scorecardresearch Skip to main content

‘This is Boston. Nice.’ Why Trevor Rainbolt, a GeoGuessr whiz, put up a billboard in Boston.

He just wanted to give fellow players a helping hand — and be on Google Street View “forever.”

Trevor Rainbolt, a whiz at the Google Street View-based online game GeoGuessr, said he paid for a billboard in Boston as a way of helping fellow players identify the city.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

If you’ve ever tried Geoguessr, the online game that challenges players to identify random locations from around the globe using only Google Street View, you know it can be a difficult task.

But not for Trevor Rainbolt, the GeoGuessr whiz, TikTok star, and live streamer who has attained Internet fame for his ability to recognize places at lightning speed — sometimes in a fraction of a second — by analyzing obscure clues like plant life, building materials, or the shape and color of roadside bollards.

Now, Rainbolt hopes to offer players a giant hint should the game ever ask them to deduce that they’re in Boston: his face on a billboard that reads “This is Boston.”


The ad popped up suddenly in a spot over the intersection of Brighton Avenue and Linden Street in Allston on Wednesday morning, causing some confusion for those who came across it.

It includes a screenshot of Rainbolt sitting behind his computer, as if peering out at the street, along with the words “This is Boston. Nice.” and a red smiley face emoji. Identifying a location and then celebrating calmly has become a signature move for Rainbolt while playing GeoGuessr.

Shamus Moynihan, who spotted the billboard on Wednesday and tweeted about it, was clearly confused by the ad, which didn’t appear to promote any specific goods or services.

“Uhhh. OK?” he wrote, adding a picture of the perplexing signage and tagging the website UniversalHub for some answers.

Fans of Rainbolt’s — or those who have seen him in memes since videos of his Geoguessr prowess have gone viral — recognized him immediately.

But this wasn’t some kind of clever guerrilla marketing campaign, Rainbolt said.

Reached by phone on Thursday, he told the Globe that he paid for the billboard himself — just for laughs, and to give his fellow gamers a helping hand.


“I think the answer is always, ‘Why not?’” he said. “As long as I help one person get a good score, it was worth the money.”

For years, Rainbolt said, billboards have offered helpful clues when they show up in Google Street View scenes while playing GeoGuessr, whether they show area codes or other references to the city where they’re located.

So he figured he would put up the most helpful billboard of them all.

At first, he considered pulling a prank on GeoGuessr players by having the billboard be a red herring.

“The initial thought was to put up ‘This is Houston’ in Boston, so it would just, like, ruin their game. But then I was like, ‘I’ll be nice,’” he said.

The ad went up Wednesday morning, and “within an hour” people started to notice it and began peppering him with questions — including why he decided to put it up in Boston, of all places.

Rainbolt, who grew up in Arkansas, said he doesn’t have any ties to the city. It was actually his agent, who went to Boston University, who suggested picking the billboard due to its prime location near lots of college students.

He also originally planned to include a QR code that linked to his TikTok account, where he has more than 2 million followers. But he was told doing so would be against local billboard regulations, so he swapped it out for the smiley face emoji, which is his logo.


The billboard will only be up for the next four weeks, so Rainbolt said he hopes one of Google’s mobile camera cars will make its way through the intersection in that time to capture it (the company appears to have last paid it a visit in October). That way, it will pop up on Street View, which GeoGuessr uses as the basis for its game.

“It’s kind of a hope and a prayer,” he said. “If they don’t, it’s still funny.”

He won’t get to see it in person. Last summer, after successfully monetizing his fame with YouTube ads and sponsorship deals, he quit his job and set off on a mission to see his favorite GeoGuessr locations around the world in person. He’s currently spending a month in Thailand, before heading to Laos.

But “I love Boston,” he said. “I want the Boston people to know that. And I hope they enjoy my face, even though it’s pretty menacing, the stare.”

If you don’t enjoy seeing that on your way to work? Well, he apologizes.

“It’ll be down eventually,” he said. “But if you do, you’re welcome.”

Spencer Buell can be reached at Follow him @SpencerBuell.