By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
October 6, 2012

FORTUNE — It was easy to make light of the Flyover feature in Apple’s (AAPL) new Maps app as long as it was only available for a few major cities. Given what iPhone and iPad users were losing — the relative accuracy of Google’s (GOOG) mapping data and its useful Street View feature — the ability to interact with photo-realistic aerial images of New York, Paris and London seemed like a dubious trade off.

But I found myself feeling quite different about Flyover when Apple — responding perhaps to what critics were saying about the way the Brooklyn Bridge seemed to melt in the Maps app’s first iteration — turned on the 3D feature in the part of Brooklyn where I happen to reside.

Suddenly the neighborhood in which I’d lived for nearly three decades was laid out before me like an open book. Here were the backyards of houses I’d walked past a thousand times. Over there were roof decks and gardens I didn’t know existed. I could see individual gravestones in Greenwood Cemetery and nearly every tree and barbecue pit in Prospect Park.

Apple is reportedly moving quickly to improve its much-maligned maps in iOS 6, but depending where you live it may be some time before Flyover makes it to your neighborhood.

Below, to give you a feel for what it’s like, a snapshot of some backyards around the corner and the Picnic House in Prospect Park.



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