Google continues to add new features to their map service, and the latest is a “3D” buildings feature which you can find in some of the major cities around the United States and Tokyo, Japan. It’s really more like 2.5D buildings as Google Earth Blog is calling it.

When you go to Google Maps, select a big city like San Francisco, Chicago, New York, etc., and then zoom in. I found that the “2.5D” looks best when it’s either one notch away from being fully zoomed in, or zoomed in all the way. The screenshot below came from New York City.


There are 35 cities in all that have this look to them.  Unfortunately there’s no rotating or tilting, what you see is what you get.  But because of the shading, you can get a general idea of the height and shape of the building.

One exception to this that some of the taller buildings in big cities like the John Hancock, and the Sears Tower in Chicago don’t exactly look 3D. Certain buildings look better than others.

If you’re not a fan of the new look, unfortunately you’ll have to live with it because this isn’t a feature that can be disabled.

I think it’s a nice addition because you’re able to get an idea of what’s surrounding you, and when you switch to the Satellite mode, there’s not that many differences between the views.