Google Maps Bring Seinfeld Fun, San Francisco Literature and More

Cool Google Maps uses can also help you estimate taxi fares in many cities, as well as create your own online map-based travel blog.

Innovative and fun maps are always being built by creative Web developers using Google Maps APIs, and several discovered recently by eWEEK are being brought together here in another of our occasional maps roundups.

San Francisco Literary History

This city is famous for so many things, from the Golden Gate Bridge to its lovely cable cars, its gorgeous San Francisco Bay, its tradition-steeped Chinatown and its world-famous hills. But San Francisco also has a deep literary history marked by famous writers, well-known literary landmarks and some spectacular independent bookstores where book lovers can stay lost for hours in aisles of classics. To commemorate that history and those landmarks, The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper created a Bay Area Literary Map using Google Maps so that visitors can click and find incredible literary history as they explore the city.

"This interactive literary map of San Francisco celebrates the region's storied past and tracks its ever-evolving present with descriptions and locations of independent booksellers, a compilation of roughly 300 Bay Area authors, dozens of landmarks, and writers' passages about places that fired their imagination," wrote John McMurtrie, the paper's book editor, in an introduction on the Website. "No such resource will ever be all-encompassing, but this one will change and grow with the rhythm of the region's literary life."

Here visitors will find intriguing places to visit, such as the plaque on Portsmouth Square where a young immigrant named John Hamilton opened the first bookstore in the city, according to McMurtrie, as well as fascinating facts about writers such as Mark Twain, Allen Ginsberg, Isabel Allende and Jack London, who included passages about the city in their writings.

Seinfeld in New York via Maps

Fans of the television sitcom "Seinfeld," which originally ran from 1989 to 1998 on NBC-TV, will certainly love this amusing, creative maps site, "Seinfeld: A Map About Nothing." This mash-up contains maps sites of locations where Jerry and his friends shared some of their funniest moments from the show, including Monk's Café, where they often met to eat and chat; the Roosevelt Hospital (think Junior Mints); Yankee Stadium; and Madison Square Garden (remember Elaine's boyfriend, Puddy, as an insane New Jersey Devils fan?). There are also hysterical scenes and memories in Central Park, the NBC studios (when Jerry and George pitched the idea of the show's original concept), the New York Public Library, the West Side YMCA (Jimmy likes this one—you'll get this when you watch it again) and, of course, the site of Soup Kitchen International, where there is definitely "no soup for you!"

There are video clips on the site for each location and, of course, a Google Map to bring it all together. Go and visit and stay to laugh for a while.

Map Your Travels

Lots of people write blogs nowadays, but Maptia takes it even further for people who want to write about their travels. In this community, participants can write posts about their travels and link them to a Google Map, along with photos and other details. Maptia calls it a site for sharing relationships with the places people visit, as well as a place for great storytelling to remember the adventures forever. The site, which is still under development, hopes to add more features in the future, including a personalized map of the world and a place where users can collect and showcase other content that they discover on Maptia, according to its organizers.

How Much Will That Taxi Ride Cost Me?

When travelers or commuters need a taxi to get to their destination, they might want a rough idea about how much the fare could cost them as they hop into their shiny taxi. That's where TaxiFareFinder can be helpful. This site uses the Google Maps API to help calculate mileage for taxi rides in many cities around the nation and the world, as well as provide average taxi fares and estimates of other related fees. The site also lists major landmarks and attractions so users don't have to have exact addresses of things like major airports to enter their destinations.

Now for Something a Little Different

OK, so this isn't a real Google Map, but trust us, it's worth seeing. Instead of being a Google Map that you can use, this is a short animated film, titled "Address is Approximate," about a Google Maps adventure that's taken by a lonely desk toy in an office after the employees head home for the night. Think "Toy Story" on Google Maps and you'll have an idea of the fun and creativity that is in store for you here. The toy "longs for escape from the dark confines of the office, so he takes a cross country road trip to the Pacific Coast in the only way he can—using a toy car and Google Maps Street View," according to the film's creator. The soundtrack is great, and the smile it will leave on your face will be worth it.