A couple of reasons to use Bing maps for genealogy

I’ll admit up front that I almost always use Google for searching and maps.  I haven’t done much with Bing, which I see as a me-too product from Microsoft.  One exception, though, when I’m doing genealogy, is Bing maps.  It has two features that are real handy that I’ve been using with Place Details in RootsMagic and with photo identification.

The first nice feature is that when you search for an address Bing Maps gives you the latitude and longitude, just below the address.  You can then copy and paste the values into RootsMagic to get the coordinates for your Place Details.

Place details in RootsMagic after entering the coordinates from Bing Maps.

The other feature I’ll mention from Bing maps is more entertaining and can get you to places Google Street View can’t.  It is the Bird’s eye view.  It uses aerial photographs from an angle so you can see all sides of a building.  You don’t get quite as close as Street View but you can see from any angle you like.  For example, a while back my sister and I were trying to figure out where this picture was taken:

We thought it might be our great-grandfather Charles Menegay, but it’s not a real clear shot of his face and we weren’t sure where it was.  The bridge looked like it could be one of the railroad bridges in the valley just north of downtown Akron, but none of them looked like that nowadays.  My sister found, though, that in the early 1910s Charles worked at the Renner brewery.  Sadly, I had already been there that day and looked at the building from the street but didn’t see anything that clearly looked like the picture.  At home, though, I had an idea and brought up the location in Bing Maps and enabled Bird’s eye view.  I rotated it around so I could see the back of the building that I couldn’t get to that day and saw this:

The windows and doors in the circles area on the Bing picture match the ones seen in the older picture, they have just been bricked over some since then.  This was a huge breakthrough.  It showed where the old picture was taken, and gives us confirmation that the picture is of our great-grandfather without me having to drive back to the facility and go onto private property.


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