Google StreetView is now live for Latvia!
Now, after doing some poking around, there are some caveats to this. I would not agree that there is “almost 100% coverage”, as some news articles say. While their coverage of Rīga and other major cities appears to be amazing, once you leave the major population centres, it is not nearly that comprehensive. Though that isn’t necessarily StreetView’s fault – there are plenty of streets in small towns and country roads that don’t even appear on Google’s regular maps of Latvia. I’m not sure why this is, but a simple comparison between Google Maps and BalticMaps will show you that Google Maps is missing a lot. For example, the town of Smiltene – Google Maps has an “urban area” outline to the region, but only shows about four or five streets. Meanwhile, clicking over to BalticMaps shows at least two dozen. I have been to Smiltene, and I can tell you that there are more than four or five streets.
Despite this, however, Google StreetView can be a useful tool, particularly for those who have ancestors from Rīga and other major cities, who would like to see their ancestral homes (or what currently exists where the ancestral home used to be). So have fun exploring!
While I have the opportunity, I will also mention some other Latvian mapping tools. The aforementioned BalticMaps is an excellent resource for modern-day maps of Latvia. This map provides a comprehensive overview of all of the towns and manorial estates across the Baltic provinces of the Russian Empire. It does not list individual farmsteads, but if you’re looking for the name of an obscure or small estate that you can’t find in other lists, odds are you will find it here. Lastly, I recommend the 1920s-1930s series of 1:75000 maps published by Jāņa Sēta – you can order them on CD here. The detail is such that individual farmsteads are mentioned.
Do you have any Latvian mapping tips or suggestions? Add in comments!