By Eva Potter
Famous for its charming village, great skiing, interesting shopping, fantastic eateries and vibrant nightlife, Ellicottville holds a solid spot on the tourism map, and now you can go inside a variety of establishments using Google Maps without ever leaving the comforts of home.
Google Maps is a popular online mapping site that provides street maps, satellite images, panoramas, travel routes, Street View images and virtual interior tours. You can find it at www.google.com/maps/views.
Last December, Adam Hilker, a Google Trusted Photographer and co-owner of PlacesMobile, Inc., creators of virtual visitors’ guides, chose to visit the village as one of its Google projects and captured Ellicottville’s charm and character through the lens of a camera for Google Street View. Ellicottville can count itself in the lucky category, as not many other ski towns have been documented in this format.
“At the time (in December), there wasn’t much snow,” and conditions were foggy, said Hilker.
Since the goal of these photo shoots is to portray Ellicottville enrobed in its finest winter white, he knew this would require a return trip, so he’ll be back next Wednesday, Feb. 25.
Using specialized equipment to capture the 360-degree panorama, Hilker shoots street scenes of the Village, along with interior views of businesses. To date, he has created virtual tours for Holiday Valley, the Gin Mill, The Barn, Watson’s Chocolates, Tangled Twigs, Dekdebrun’s Ski Shop and Ellicottville Brewing Company, and you can tour them all free online.
Each of the above businesses is shown in five sets of 360-degree viewpoints. Each of the 360-degree viewpoints, which became the Google Street View images, contained approximately 12 images each. Hilker said about 60 images are required to capture each viewpoint. He also took still photos for the Google+ page.
For the Google+ page, he said, “We use about 10-15 of those (photos). Those are points of interest, interior décor, store hours, credit card information and the storefront to make it look better.”
Ready to do a little armchair surfing to see these gorgeous pictures for yourself? Just go to www.google.com/maps/views and search for “Ellicottville, NY.” You will see red location “dots” on the map of Ellicottville, each of which represents a location filmed from the Street View perspective.
While you’re on the site, you’ll also see some of Hilker’s high elevation images of the village.
“When we do the aerial views – the 360s (degrees) up in the air – we take about 15 different viewpoints just to capture it, because it’s a lot harder to do,” he explained.
To create the 360-degree tours, PlacesMobile photographers use Google’s server and program to “stitch” the images together to create the images you see on Google Maps.
Hilker says he is making plans to work with a few more businesses when he returns to Ellicottville next week.
“We really want to make sure that people know that Ellicottville is a special project. Not many locations are chosen to have their town have a virtual tour created for them and displayed so well on Google Maps, and no other ski towns have been done like this before,” he said. “We will not be coming back again this season, so if (businesses) want to participate, this is their last chance.”
If you are an interested business that would like to sign up with PlacesMobile, you can contact them for pricing and more information at www.placesmobile.com/google-business-views.