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Google Street View (GSV) images can be used to “ground-truth” current and historical food retail data from approximately 2007 - when GSV was launched in a few US cities - to the present, facilitating analyses of food environments over time. A review of GSV images of all food retailers listed in a government database of licensed establishments in the Bronx, New York enabled records to be verified, businesses classified, and retail change quantified. The data revealed several trends likely to affect food access and health: increasing overall numbers of food retailers; the growth of dollar stores; and numerous openings, closings, and ownership changes across all food retail segments. Hot spot analysis identified statistically significant clusters of new dollar stores and bodegas, purveyors of less healthy processed foods, in lower-income neighborhoods in the South Bronx that face elevated rates of diet-related diseases. This article demonstrates the benefits and limitations of using GSV to conduct “virtual” food environment research.


This work was originally published in Health and Place, available at



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