Band of Bridges: Celebrating the Golden Gate Anniversary

Editor’s Note: Today’s guest author is Greg Moore, President of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Google is excited to help support this celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge.

On May 27th, the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge celebrated its 75th anniversary. Our organization, the non-profit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, is working with the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District; the National Park Service; the Presidio Trust; and the City of San Francisco to help commemorate this landmark event.

As president of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, I have the privilege of enjoying the majestic architecture of the bridge and its landscape on a regular basis. This iconic Bridge stands at the center of the Golden Gate National Parks.

However, we’re pleased to announce that now the American spirit and beauty of the bridge will be available to everyone. Our new interactive website, Band of Bridges, brings the celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary into everyone’s homes.

The website enables visitors to virtually connect bridges from around the world to the Golden Gate, making what we hope will be the longest bridge in history. Using the Google Maps API, users can navigate every corner of the Earth and search for bridges or enter a specific bridge they are already familiar with—maybe even one from their hometown. Each new bridge added will connect to preceding bridges, resulting in spans that stretch hundreds (or thousands) of digital miles.

With the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics approximating 600,000 bridges in the United States alone, we hope to connect thousands of bridges and people from across the globe.

Just as the Golden Gate blends together its surrounding nature, culture and people, Band of Bridges, conceived by San Francisco advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners and brought to life by the Google Maps team in Mountain View, is a culmination of the amazing creative and technological talent of the Bay Area in California.

The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy would like to thank Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Google for bringing such vision, beauty and authenticity to our efforts.

Please join us in celebrating the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary and be part of our Band of Bridges.

Real-World Sightings in Google Earth and Maps

Today we’re premiering our new Real-World Sightings series on Google Earth and Google Maps. As part of this experiment, we’ve added 10 images to the map based on stories we’ve heard from our users. As is common with betas, we’ll evaluate interest and engagement with this feature before determining future rollout plans.

It all started with a recent visit to my friend Nessie in Boston. As I crossed the bridge into town, the car in front of me stopped short so I slammed on the brakes. The cars next to me were also stopped, so I got out to see what was causing the back up.

There was a huge, red lobster sitting on the bridge.

He wasn’t scared or hostile. In fact, he seemed quite amused as a few brave drivers navigated around his over-sized legs to successfully cross the bridge. Soon everyone’s fear and alarm gave way to wonder and surprise.

As I made the journey under the giant crustacean’s torso, I was reminded how much bigger the world is than we often realize. I made it to Nessie’s place in Boston safely and got to thinking: the world must be full of magical stories like this.

My friends at Google agreed, and so we asked users from around the world to share stories of the strange and delightful things they’ve seen. We were surprised at how many reports we received, so today we’re adding a new feature to Google Maps and Earth: Real-World Sightings. People have witnessed fantastical creatures in every corner of the globe, and in our effort to mirror the real world as completely as possible, we have decided to start including these eyewitness reports on the map.

So if you happen to run into a dragon or alien today in Google Earth (make sure you have 3D Buildings turned on) or Maps, don’t be alarmed. Instead, we encourage you take a few minutes to look for other creatures that have been reported in places all across the world. We’ll tweet some tips to help you get started finding these images on our Twitter handle @GoogleMaps, so follow along throughout the day to spot some fun things you may have thought only existed in legends and fairy tales!

Join us on the bridge for International Women’s Day 2011

I lead a global team at Google and travel extensively. When I speak about my work, the questions I get are often about the efforts we make to bring more women into engineering and how I maintain my work/life balance with two young children. These are very important questions, but I’m acutely aware that they reflect a certain amount of privilege when it comes to issues of women’s equality. Despite the incredible advances women have made in the last century, many around the world are still struggling to provide for their families and keep them safe amidst violence and instability.

For the past several years I’ve been part of a sponsorship program administered by Women for Women International, an organization dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. Every time I receive a letter from a woman I sponsor, each of whom is determined to improve her life despite the terrible odds she faces, I’m reminded of why it’s so important that we all—women and men alike—recognize the challenges women continue to face around the world.

That’s why I’m so excited to celebrate the centenary of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2011. This year Google is collaborating with Women for Women International on their “Join me on the Bridge” campaign. Originally conceived of by women from Rwanda and Congo as a sign of solidarity between women in two conflict-ridden countries, last year’s campaign brought together thousands of women and men at more than 100 bridge events on four continents.

This year we’re making it simple for you, your friends, your classmates and your colleagues to participate in bridge events on International Women’s Day by offering new online resources.

To attend a bridge event, check our map to see all the events that have already been planned. Or you can use our event toolkit to plan your own event on the bridge of your choice. You’ll see that there are two kinds of events—physical and online; if you’re not able to attend a bridge event in person on March 8, you can lend your support online by virtually attending an event via Street View in Google Maps.

Finally, on our International Women’s Day 2011 site, you can to donate to Women for Women International and more than 40 other incredible organizations working in the fields of women’s economic security, education, empowerment, equality, health and safety.

See you on the bridge on March 8!