Inventive Google Maps developers are always finding cool new ways for people to virtually learn more about the communities, sites and fascinating possibilities around them, through the use of Google Maps APIs and some amazing creativity.
Here are some of the latest examples, cultivated by the folks at Google Maps Mania, an unofficial blog that tracks cool maps created using Google Maps.
History Online via Maps
Surely, you have seen the satirical 1981 Mel Brooks film, "The History of the World, Part 1." Well, now you can view the history of the world using Google Maps at the Website "From Cave Paintings to the Internet."
The fascinating site allows users to explore the detailed history of the world through different periods, regions and cultures, using Google Maps. The site is maintained by Jeremy Norman, a seller of antique books and maps, who also has a keen interest in history. Visitors can peruse history from 2,500,000 B.C.E. until the present day using the map and other resources on the site.
'Picture Postcards Then and Now'
Collecting vintage postcards has been a hobby and obsession for many people over the years. Now vintage postcard lovers can take their fascination with those old images a lot farther by using Google Street View images to see what things look like today, compared with old postcards.
That's just what you will find at the site, "Postcards Then and Now," which displays a marvelous collection of 20th century postcard images from England, posted right alongside images of those same locations today from Google Street View.
This site is incredibly creative and gives a fascinating look back in time in beautiful locations across the pond.
Google Street View Images as Art
In 2008, Bill Guffey, a Kentucky artist, was looking through some New York City images on Google Street View and got the inspiration to paint a picture of a scene from one of the photographs. That idea spawned The Virtual Paintout project, in which he began painting other scenes virtually, using photographs from Google Street View.
Guffey began asking other artists to contribute works following the same idea.
The site is filled with paintings from artists of all skill levels, who are depicting the scenes they see in the photographs and putting them onto canvas, cardboard, paper, wood and other surfaces.
None yet seem to take on the photorealism approach of American painter Richard Estes, but perhaps that's only a matter of time.
Tank Fights Around the World
Make love, not war, but if you must make war, at least make it using Geo Guns, a military tank fighting game that uses Google Maps to create tank battles in almost any location—without anyone being injured.
That's the idea behind Geo Guns, which allows users to select their own battlefield or to use one of several "suggested" venues.
"Why waste precious human lives in 2013? Using this application, you can let pixels do the fighting," according to the description on the site. "Turn any place on Earth into a virtual battlefield, thanks to Google Maps' awesome new 45 degree angle view. Enter a location in the search bar and fight off the enemy intruders."
Street View Images Gone Wrong
Sometimes, Google's Street View image cameras collect photos of crazy things, such as people making unfriendly gestures, unexpected events and other surprises.
The site, "Google Street View World," catalogs those kinds of humorous Street View images, where users can explore them and search for images on a map to see what they might uncover.
"Google Street View World" has some funny images that were collected without any kind of seven-second delay as used on live television. Visit this imaginative site, and see what surprises might make you smile.