Vermont's historic Statehouse is a veritable museum, and one of the state's most popular tourist attractions. But you no longer have to trek to Montpelier to see it — thanks to Google Street View, you can take a highly detailed tour online.
Google held a press conference at the Statehouse today to launch its tour of the Capitol — one of 1000 iconic locations worldwide that Google Maps added today to its virtual collection. In addition to the Statehouse, Street View's high-resolution, panoramic images make it possible to “visit” places such as a zoo in Singapore and the peaceful canals in Copenhagen, Denmark.
"Google’s mission is to make the world's information
accessible to everyone," said Matt Dunne, Google’s Head of Community Affairs. Dunne was joined by Statehouse curator David Schutz, Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell (D-Windsor) and representatives from the Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
Dunne, a former state representative and state senator, is intimately familiar with the Statehouse. He spoke before the unveiling of the tour of his former workplace, which is the first state capitol to have its interior photographed by Google Maps.
Why the Vermont Statehouse?
First, it’s one of the top three tourist attractions in the
state, next to Ben and Jerry’s and Shelburne Farms Museum, Dunne explained.
More importantly, it's rich in history. According to Schutz, it has the oldest legislative chambers in the United
States that are still in active use. It has many of its original furnishings, which date back to 1859, including
the senate chamber’s walnut desks and chairs.
Many of those appeared on screen when the speakers debuted the tour on a monitor. The tour makes it possible to zoom in and and see the wood grain of the original desks, or the detailed black tiles on the first floor, containing ancient fossils from Isle La Motte. Viewers who look closely at a painting of George Washington can almost make out the brush
“People need to fully appreciate the capability of an
invention of Google," said Schutz. "It is incredible to be able to go up to a portrait like
that and to see all of the treasures. It makes them actually look like
treasures, even on a screen."
Schutz laughed when recalling the day the Google camera, a machine with a dome filled with multiple rotating cameras, was
whizzing around the Statehouse on a dolly. He said he felt lucky to witness the
Schutz hopes the tour excites vacationers and Vermonters alike and creates more foot traffic at the Statehouse.
Dunne said he wants it to give a more in-depth understanding of
the building to those who don't want to be rushed on a tour.
“People in Vermont don’t necessarily know how historic this
building is," Dunne added. "Now they can see it."
Francis Brooks, Statehouse Sergeant of Arms, has been
working in the building since 1983. When asked if the photographs' detail adds any
threat to security, he shook his head no.
“Google just lets people see something they could have done
on their own,” he explained, emphasizing that all of the rooms mapped are
already accessible to the public.
Brooks is also amazed by the quality of the images.
“It makes the building look exactly as it is," Brooke said. "As soon as he
put up the screen, there was no question."
Those who couldn’t make it out to the Statehouse today you can tour it here, thanks to Google Maps.