I am teaching Elijah Anderson’s Code of the Street in my Introduction to Sociology class, and I have found that an excellent supplement to the text is the “Street view” of Google Maps. With a simple internet connection, you can type in addresses into maps.google.com and show students the places Anderson describes in the book.

Anderson begins the book with a descriptive tour of Germantown Avenue, starting in the wealthier and middle class neighborhoods and continuing through the ghettos described throughout the book.  As you read the introduction, you can follow his description of the street with Google maps.  The “Street view” allows you to “drive” up and down the street, look all around, and actually see how the ghettos are different from the middle-class neighborhoods that are his comparative foil.

The entire street is not photographed in this way, but much of it is.  You can detour off Germantown Avenue as well, following other major arteries and smaller streets through the city.

Here are the instructions and some screenshots. I don’t know much about Philadelphia; this is only based on Anderson’s descriptions.  Perhaps those more knowledgeable than I can fill in some details?

Go maps.google.com and type in the following addresses. Then click on “Street view” and navigate up and down the street as you desire.

“8500 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA” takes you to a little shopping district in Chestnut Hill, the upper-middle class nighborhood that Anderson starts out with. You can go all the way up to about 9500 or so.

“7600 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA” transitions into the Mt. Airy neighborhood, a more racially mixed middle class neighborhood. The street view ends at 7200.

“4600 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA,”  Here the Street View starts up again and goes for a few blocks before turning off on Windrim Ave.

“3700 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA”–Corner of Broad St, “one of the centers of the North Philadelphia ghetto”

“2900 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA.” Here, you start to see the empty lots, barred windows, and shuttered buildings.

“1000 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, PA.” Where the street ends under the interstate:



Peter Hart-Brinson is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is a cultural sociologist and is working on a dissertation about gay marriage.  His post is inspired by Elijah Anderson’s Code of the Street… so it’s for serious sociological nerds.

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