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Places Banned on Google Maps

Places Banned on Google Maps

Not every place in this world can be found on Google Maps. Some of them are blurred and distorted for security or other reasons. This Techspirited article enlists some places that are banned on Google maps and tries to tell you why.
Sharmistha Sarkar
Did You Know?
The Wooden house at 2207 Seymour Avenue, Cleveland Ohio where Ariel Castro, a criminal, kidnapped three women between 2002 and 2004, and locked them inside, is obscured on Google Maps. The women were imprisoned in his house until May 2013. The house was destroyed in August 2013.

Google Maps is a tool by which one can get a satellite view or a street-level view of many locations around the world. While it is an excellent way to find places on all parts of the globe, it exposes these locations to anyone searching for them, which could pose a risk to the security of the people living there. For security reasons, many governments have requested Google to keep their locations blurred or have them removed from Google Maps. Honoring their requests, Google does not show some places on Maps. Many other places have been blurred due to personal-privacy lawsuits or for reasons unknown. The locations blurred or not seen on Google Maps include those like private properties, race tracks, military and nuclear facilities, airbases, islands, regular people's houses, or palaces. Some appear suspiciously blurred on Google Maps, while others are banned for security reasons.
Places That Are Not Visible On Google Maps
Elmira Correctional Facility, Elmira, New York

Elmira Correctional Facility is a maximum security state prison which is situated in Chemung County, New York, in the City of Elmira. It is supervised by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. It was founded as Elmira Reformatory in 1876. It was censored in Google Earth for 2006.
Tantauco National Park, Chile

Tantauco Park is a private natural reserve in Chile, which was created in 2005 by Chilean business magnate and President of Chile. The National Park is known for its remarkable biodiversity and is home to many endangered animals. On Google Maps, it is a small area of low-resolution imagery.
HAARP Site, Gakona, Alaska

HAARP is a controversial Alaska-based research facility located at Gakona in Alaska in the United States. They conduct research on the ionosphere and investigate the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for radio communication and surveillance. It is believed that its ionospheric testing is the cause for some of the hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes although there is no solid proof for this. The image of the large land area above the site has a lower resolution than the area surrounding it, on Google Maps.
Volkel Air Base, Netherlands

Volkel Air Base is a military airbase used by the Royal Netherlands Air Force. It is located in the town of Volkel in Netherlands. It is one of the several military airfields in Netherlands, and one of the three major operational bases of the RNLAF. WikiLeaks published diplomatic correspondence which says that the area has nuclear weapons, which may be the reason why it is blurred.
Cornell University Combined Heat and Power Plant, New York

The Cornell University Combined Heat and Power Plant is located in New York. The eco-friendly facility produces electricity by burning natural gas to lower the release of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The place appears blurred on Google Maps.
Faroe Islands, Denmark

The Faroe Islands are a group of islands located between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Large parts of the archipelago appear as low-resolution images on Google Maps.
Marcoule Nuclear Site, France

Marcoule Nuclear Site is a nuclear plant in the Chusclan and Codolet communes, near Bagnols-sur-Cèze in France. The plant is located on the banks of Rhone. This giant energy site is run by the atomic energy organization, Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique (CEA) and Areva NC and is called CEA VALRHO Marcouleuse. There was an explosion in 2011 and it killed some people. The site is shown in reduced resolution on Google Maps.
Babylon, Iraq

Babylon is a city from ancient Mesopotamia whose ruins lie in Iraq. It appears several times in the Bible and is known for its Hanging Gardens. While the surrounding area of the city of Babylon is visible on Google Maps, the city itself appears blurred. Babylon is listed as Babil on the map.

Mururoa also known as Aopuni, is an atoll which is a part of the Tuamotu Archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean. Moruroa Atoll includes the atolls of Tureia, Fangataufa, Tematangi, and Vanavana. Moruroa and Fangataufa were the sites of extensive nuclear testing by France between 1966 and 1996 and caused numerous international protests. The airstrip, dock, and buildings are grayed out on Google maps.
AREVA La Hague nuclear fuel reprocessing facility

The AREVA La Hague site is a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in La Hague located on the French Cotentin Peninsula. It has been in operation since 1976. The facility treats spent nuclear fuel from different countries. It is shown in reduced resolution on Google Maps.
NATO Air Base, Geilenkirchen, Germany

It is the Main Operating Base of the NATO E-3A Component, one of the two operational elements of the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force. The western side of the base is blurred on Google Maps.
Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest, also called Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle in English, is a forest that spans across most of the Amazon Basin of South America. A majority of the Amazon is shown in low resolution at full zoom. Some areas seem to be censored.
Severnaya Zemlya

Severnaya Zemlya is an archipelago in the Russian high Arctic. It is located off the north coast of Russia. This archipelago separates two seas of the Arctic Ocean, the Kara Sea in the west and the Laptev Sea in the east. All the major islands have been blurred on Google Maps.
Chekhov, Moscow Oblast

Chekhov is a town and the administrative center of Chekhovsky District in Moscow Oblast, Russia. It was previously named Lopasnya after the Lopasnya River. The place is blurred on Google Maps and the reason is unknown.

Alcoa Inc. a company based in the US, is the world's third-largest producer of aluminum. It is located in New York. The facility is blurred on Google Maps.
Fort Drum

Fort Drum is a census-designated place and U.S. Army military reservation. It is located in New York, United States. The areas are blurred on Google Maps.
Some Facts
  • North Korea was not visible on Google Maps. The whole country was seen without any markers, street names, or other details. There was only one marker for Pyongyang. Since February 2013, North Korea is fully covered in Google Maps including Satellite view.
  • During the launching of Google Maps, images of the White House and United States Capitol in Washington D.C. were blurred out. At present, Google Maps and Google Earth show these sites as uncensored, but with out-of-date imagery.
  • The airbase connected to Málaga Airport is censored in most maps. The runway is censored in Bing Maps. It became visible in Google as of June 2015.
  • Ingolstadt Manching Airport, which was previously blurred, is now visible on Google Maps. However, it is blurred out on Bing Maps.
  • Number One Observatory Circle, which is the official residence of the Vice President of the United States, was seen blurred in Google Earth on various dates.

So, these were some places that appear blurred or have been censored on Google Maps. In some cases, the reasons for less or no visibility are obvious, while in others, they are a mystery.