A young girl dancing on North Smallwood Street. A police officer in Mid-Town Belvedere shrugging with his palms outstretched. Many others around the city waving their arms — or raising their middle fingers.
These are among the dozens of characters pictured on the streets of Baltimore by Google Street View vehicles as they whizzed by and recorded images of storefronts, landmarks and surprised pedestrians.
The amalgamation of Baltimoreans smiling, flexing or raising their hands was created by Kara Mae Harris and her boyfriend, Chris Nelson, who are both frequent users of the Street View service, which Google began rolling out in 2007. The blog, Google Goofballs, recently attracted attention when Harris posted it on Twitter.
Harris said she uses Google Street View when researching for her history and cooking blog, Old Line Plate, and her boyfriend uses the service to find locations on Bmore Photo Tag, a Facebook group in which users create and complete biking scavenger hunts.
Harris, a Maryland native, took screenshots of people recognizing — and posing for — the Google Street View vehicles and posted about 20 of them to a Tumblr blog just to keep the images in one place. Last week, she tweeted the link to her blog and was surprised when it was retweeted by more than 100 users, including by State Del. Robbyn Lewis.
Street capturing services have been known to catch some darker moments, like a homicide victim in Curtis Bay in 2015 caught by Bing Streetside or an alleged drug deal in New Jersey photographed by Google’s car.
But while some people featured on Harris’ blog — whose faces are blurred out by Google — cover their heads or flip off the camera, many seem happy to have stumbled upon the Google car, stretching their arms out as its multiple cameras click away.
“For a lot of people, this is what Baltimore’s like,” Harris said of the men and women showing off for the camera. “It’s kind of like when you go to the stadium and they do the little dance cam.
“If you just walk around in the city, there are always people doing funny little [things].”