09/09/11 431 W, 1 I - + 9 - 2 Finding Firehouses

Here's the objective: find as many former and historic engine houses as possible in a city. Start with research. Google the fire department, and see if, by chance, by lucky chance, there's already a list of all such structures. You might get lucky. Or, mail the department, asking for same. You'll probably hear back from their historian, if they have one. Or maybe you have a book about the department, or other materials or sources or web sites that can be used to produce such a list. For my Milwaukee visit this week, their 1971 history book Beertown Blazes was the primary reference.

Make a list of the street address of all known firehouses or fire department structures older than 1961. Active or retired structures. (The Milwaukee book made this easy, with quite a bit of appendix material listing station addresses and dates of operations.) Build your list using Microsoft Word, and create a big table, one row per structure. Once the list is complete, move to next step. Enter each address into Google Maps, and look at the Street View. (Yes, this takes time. But, hey, it's fun to be obsessive.) Also use Bing Maps and their Bird's Eye view, which can be easier at times. Fewer clicks. If there's a firehouse-looking structure at that address, make a note. If not, make another note.  Click to enlarge:

Once the list is finished, it's time to map. UsedGoogle Maps again, and enter the address of the first fire station on your list. Switch to Driving Directions mode, and enter the address of the second station on your list. Then the third, then the fourth. Repeated until finished, or until Google Maps stops working. (That happened to me.). Then, take a screen shot of the browser window. Paste into Microsoft Word. Using the drawing tools in Word, crop the pasted graphic so only the map is displayed.

Return to your list of fire stations. Enter into your list the single letter that matches the station's location on Google Map. Double- or triple-check your work here. Get this step wrong, and you, my firefighter friend, are hosed. When finished, sort your station list by those single letters. Print both your station list and your map document. Commence traveling. Once you arrive at your destination city, consult your printed map document. Pick the first station to visit, probably the closet to your present location. Cross-reference the station address from your printed list of stations. Enter the address into your vehicle's GPS. Proceed to fire station. Rinse and repeat. Just like that. Questions?


Since you mentioned using Google Maps, Google Maps Streetview, and Bing, what if I told you there is a website that combines all 3 at the same time? It is at http://www.mapchannels.com/dualmaps.aspx.. Email me if you have any other questions.
James - 10/17/11 - 04:40

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