Have you ever imagined what it’s like to stand atop one of Michigan’s most recognizable structures, the Mackinac Bridge? Now, using Google Maps Street View, you can. And you can do it from the comfort of your own living room!
We’ve partnered with Google to make many of Michigan’s most iconic destinations accessible to the more than one billion people all around the world who use Google Maps each month. Using Google Trekker technology, attractions such as the Mackinac Bridge – not previously accessible on Google Street View – now have 360 degree, fully navigable imagery that will allow potential travelers to explore these destinations.
We’re giving our readers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how we captured this truly remarkable footage. Get ready – you’re in for the climb of your life!
What did you think? As you search for the words to describe this breathtaking virtual experience, here’s a behind-the-scenes look into how it all came together.
The Street View Trekker is a backpack system with a camera on top that is worn by an operator who walks through pedestrian walkways or trails on foot. The imagery is captured automatically and stitched together to create the 360 degree panorama seen on Google Maps. More than 44,000 panoramic photos were taken by members and volunteers on the Pure Michigan team and the Department of Natural Resources who borrowed the Trekker and traveled for four weeks, capturing some of the most breathtaking scenes around Michigan.
There are 15 lenses at the top of the mast, each pointed in a different direction that enabled us to create a 360-degree panoramic view. As the operator walks, photos are taken every 2.5 seconds. The Trekker weighs approximately 40 lbs, and is the size of a large hiking backpack. It’s about 4 feet in height when set on the ground, and when worn, the camera system extends 2 feet above the operator’s shoulders. The Trekker battery can last around 6-8 hours on a full charge.
So, we strapped on the Trekker and made our way to one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. According to Robert Sweeney, executive director of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, the trek to the top of the bridge can be characterized by feelings of anticipation and exhilaration. The climb starts by navigating a series of small openings, similar to what you would expect on a submarine.
There are 2,500 cells in each tower that range in size from 6 cubic feet to 60 cubic feet. Needless to say, we ran into a bit of trouble getting the Trekker to the top…
…But we made it. And the view was 100 percent worth it!
Here’s what it looks like on Google Maps Street View.
Are you adventurous enough to make the climb? Each year, the Mackinac Bridge Authority donates 25 certificates to charitable organizations. Each certificate enables two people to take a tour of the top of the Mackinac Bridge.
The public can bid on the certificates or buy raffle tickets (depending on how each organization chooses to handle their fundraising campaign). For more information and a list of participating organizations, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 906 -643-1336.
Other Michigan destinations available on Google Street View are: Mackinac Island, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Island Loop Route National Water Trail in St. Clair County, the State Capitol building in Lansing, Ford Field, the Detroit Riverwalk, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Wagner Falls, Bond Falls, Silver Lake State Park and Sand Dunes, Palms Brook State Park, Brighton State Recreation Area, Pinckney State Recreation Area, Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Ocqueoc Falls in Millersburg, Agate Falls in Trout Creek and the Presque Isle River.
These sites join other natural wonders, including the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal, the Great Pyramids, the Galapagos Islands and many more available in the Street View feature of Google Maps.
For more information and to view other Michigan destinations on Google Maps Street view, visit michigan.org/GoogleTrekker.