Google Maps Ghosts

It’s quite common these days for people to spot weird things on Google maps street view. People have seen everything from aliens to the Loch Ness monster. The problem I have with a lot of these sightings is that there’s no context. What looks like a scary clown stalking the countryside could have been a a dad dressed as clown on his way to his son’s birthday party for all we know.

The Stuart Hotel as it appeared on Google street view (February 2016)

One of the more famous ghost pictures found on Google Maps is that of the Stuart Hotel in Liverpool. I shouldn’t say ‘ghost’ really since it looks more like a demonic elf or something. The most logical explanation is that it’s a Halloween mask or costume that has been put in the window.. possibly on purpose so that others would see it and think it’s real. Maybe the owners knew that the Google earth van was coming to town that day and they thought it’d be funny to put a cardboard cut-out of a gremlin in the window or something. The reason I am so sceptical is because I’ve actually done something similar myself.

It’s a little blurry but above is a picture of my old flat as it appears on Google Street View. It was probably around 2015, we had recently played a gig and had been paid with Star Wars memorabilia (unusual I know) one of the things we got was a life size cardboard cut-out of Han Solo. After his legs accidentally fell off due to being moved from room to room a lot, I decided to put his top half on our front window sill for the sake of being weird for no particular reason. It was of course fantastic that the google street view van turned up a few days later and managed to capture Han in the window.

It’s not so unusual for people to try and draw attention to themselves or their houses, just look at the mad stuff people cover their houses with on Halloween and Christmas. I think a lot of what we see as ghosts or monsters on Google Street view is nothing more than people pranking the world by doing something weird for the cameras.

Another explanation might just be good old pareidolia! we do tend to see faces and patterns in things, it just seems to be the way our brains are wired. It explains why a burnt piece of toast might look like it has the face of Jesus on it or why light reflecting off a window might look like a vampire looking in at you. It’s our overactive imaginations and our tendency to turn every unknown shape into something familiar.

Yesterday I drove past an old building near me that has always looked pretty cool to me, I think it’s because it’s red/pink and it has old fashioned windows which are in a way Georgian styled. We used to drive past it to go to band practice. When I got home last night I decided to check it out on Google Street view to see if it had any ghosts in the windows. I know it seems silly but it just looked like it might be haunted. This is what I found..

I don’t know what that thing is in the top window, but it looks ghoulish to me. I don’t know if you’ll be able to see what I’m seeing, but it kinda looks like a monster with a pointed head and pointy ears with a hand that has very long fingers or fingernails. It’s face is partly hidden by a window muntin (yes, muntin is a new word to me too)

It is most likely a reflection of something, maybe the clouds. It could be something covered with a sheet in that room or anything else that is quite innocent. It just shows you how easy it is for some people to see shapes, figures and faces in windows on Google street view, especially if they’re looking for something weird.

I’m not doubting the existence of ghosts and I’m not saying that all Google Street View ghosts can be easily explained as something quite normal or innocent but it seems that most of them can probably be explained as such. There will always be the real ghosts that may in fact go undiscovered. Let me know if you find one!

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11 thoughts on “Google Maps Ghosts

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