A Glitch in Google Maps Lets You Watch Williamsburg Gentrify in an Instant


A lot of ink has been spilled over Williamsburg’s transformation from a seedy warehouse habitat for the city’s creative underclass into the world capital of the hipster overground. Bemoaning gentrification in Williamsburg is the most tired conversation you can have about how this city is changing. But this one glitch in Google Maps reminds of us of how stark the difference is between the Williamsburg of today and the Williamsburg of not that long ago.

The streetview has us at the corner of North 3rd Street and River Street. Just take one step toward the river, and the gleaming schlock of converted lofts reverts back to the grimy alleys that were once everywhere in one of New York’s most expensive neighborhoods. According to Google, the scene is from August 2007. What will happen in the next six years? A pod hotel in every yard?