I spotted a few enticing visual patterns when browsing Australian cities in Google Earth recently. First, of course Canberra’s Ebenezer Howard-inspired city centre looks fantastic from the air, even if it was never finished according to plan.
(See also Marion Mahoney Griffin’s beautiful watercolours – “infused with sepia, gold and other luminescent tones which capture the goldenness of a quintessential Australian landscape” – as part of the winning submission for Canberra’s design, with her husband: 1, 2, 3, 4.)
It’d be interesting compare a few more garden city layouts – given Google Earth’s fantastic capability for revealing urban layout, as noted previously with respect to Barcelona (see also). Unfortunately, the current detail of satellite footage in Google Earth’s Welwyn Garden City – and that of fellow Hertfordshire example Letchworth – is not good enough to do comparisons.
But another garden city, Colonel Light Gardens in South Australia, has decent detail, including of the enjoyably-named Piccadilly Circus:
I’ve overlaid the following images from the original plans and sales brochures for the suburb, lifted from the Colonel Light Gardens Historical Society’s (PDF), onto the eventual layout. They fit beautifully:
While we’re overlaying, the beautiful plan for Canberra doesn’t quite line up with eventual reality, even given the unfinished nature of the project, as this overlay of the Griffins’ plan onto Google Earth indicates:
But back in the real Canberra, or Google Earth’s version of it anyway, what are these features over to the east of the city centre? Water treatment plants? Agricultural plots? They’re huge:
However, I think I know what this is: reflections from the roof of the redeveloped Southern Cross railway station in Melbourne causing glitches in the satellites’ cameras. Perhaps a case of the blooming jaggies (which sounds like a late-60s British psychedelic band). They look like giant icicles, hanging at that endlessly surprising vertiginous perspective that Google Earth has, belying the sun-bleached tone of the surrounding terrain:
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