Software developers are regularly finding new, interesting ways of using Google Maps APIs to highlight and document intriguing places around the globe, and we here at eWEEK are always looking for new maps gems to deliver to our readers.
With that in mind, here’s our latest mini-collection of creative online content that’s being highlighted using Google Maps APIs.
Virtually Visit Jefferson’s Monticello for America’s Birthday
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, built his lovely, ornate Monticello home outside Charlottesville, Va., with a flair for architecture and innovative features for its time, including a personal library that he used to conduct technological experiments. But if you haven’t been there, you’d never know just how special a place Monticello can be.
That’s no longer an issue for visitors, however, since Google’s Street View imaging service has documented Monticello for Google Maps, providing unique glimpses of the home where Jefferson lived during his life.
The grounds around Monticello and the interiors of many of the rooms in the home are now featured on Google Maps, which is something that Jefferson himself would likely be impressed with, wrote Leslie Greene Bowman, president and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, in a July 2 guest post on the Google Lat Long Blog.
“Thomas Jefferson would have loved knowing that in 200 years, his architectural masterpiece would be explored by a cutting-edge technology and seen by people all over the world on Google Maps,” wrote Bowman. “His legacy as a founding father is well-celebrated in the course of American history, of course—but Jefferson was also an innovator, always trying new things and exploring new possibilities to make a better world.”
Visit Prehistoric and Ancient Sites
The Megalithic Portal, which uses Google Maps, allows online visitors to explore some of the oldest and most historic spots on Earth, using a database that catalogs the locations, fascinating details about their history and unique photographs of the sites. The site recently released a compilation of more than 25,000 prehistoric and ancient sites in Google Earth where virtual visitors can explore and marvel at the sites, according to a June 26 post from The Unofficial Google Earth Blog.
The Megalithic Portal centers mostly on sites in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Germany so far, but accepts contributions from visitors to help continue to build it out, according to its founder Andy Burnham.
“We exist to raise awareness of megalithic, prehistoric and other ancient sites everywhere,” the site states. “They really are everywhere you look, yet few people have heard of most of them.” The group began by compiling lists of Stone Circles and Rows and has grown organically over the years, according to Burnham.
Architecture From Your Armchair
Several cool Google Maps-enabled sites have been built to highlight interesting and beautiful architecture around the world, according to the folks at GoogleMapsMania.
Archilovers describes itself as a social network for architects, designers and lovers of architecture where they can collaborate, share and pick each other’s brains. For architecture fans, it is a portal to a wide variety of lovely designs and projects.
Arti-Fact is another cool site, where users can view gorgeous buildings or sculptures around the world from the site’s impressive online image collection.
The image collection includes street and satellite views of architecture as well as street and museum views of sculpture, according to the site. Virtual visitors can find information on buildings, architects, sculptors and more from around the world, from 16th through the 21st centuries, according to the site.
Google Maps Explores Monticello, Ancient Ruins, Great Architecture
Track the Tour de France
Tour de France bicycle racing fans can track the 2013 event using several Google Maps-based tools. First, there is the Cycling the Alps site where visitors can follow the racers on maps, tracking the terrain and the course as the cyclists make their way to Paris. There’s even an Android app, priced at about $2.33 at current exchange rates, for racing fans who need to stay abreast of all the goings-on from moment to moment. The site also features a Google+ page where more information is available about this year’s Tour.
Explore Japan’s “Battleship Island”
An eerie tourist destination that inspired the villain’s secret hideout in the latest James Bond movie, “Skyfall,” an old abandoned coal mining site in Japan, is now featured via images through the Google Maps Street View project. The site, on the island of Hashima off the coast of Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan, has been widely known in Japan by its nickname Gunkanjima — or “Battleship Island,” according to a June 28 post on the Google Lat Long Blog.
“Starting in the late 19th century, Hashima served as a coal mining facility and residential complex for 5,000 people,” wrote Wakaba Ohkura, program manager for Google Maps, on the post. “After the decline of coal mining in the 1970s, however, the island became completely abandoned, only opening up again to tourists in 2009.
“Hashima has transformed into an eerie tourist destination where you can see a once-thriving town decaying and totally devoid of life. Apparently, Hashima’s buildings are deteriorating so rapidly that you can hear parts of the concrete collapse as the wind blows from the ocean,” he continued.
The new Street View images give virtual visitors 360-degree panoramas of the abandoned ruins, wrote Ohkura. “Winds have been very unkind to Hashima over the last several decades, and with the buildings falling apart, we hope this imagery can serve as a digital archive of its current state before further collapse. Today, you can virtually explore the ruins of Hashima, pretending you’re James Bond waiting to be rescued. If you are really inspired, you can visit the real place next time you get down to Nagasaki, Japan.”