Google Maps can take Website visitors to amazing places for adventures and exploration or to see beautiful places and cool possibilities around the world. And it’s all done using the magic of the Google Maps API, which allows Website builders to bring “life” to maps and give them new uses, meanings and interpretations.
Here are some examples that eWEEK found to be insightful, fun and intriguing.
The Living New Deal
To help pull the United States out of the Great Depression, the federal government invested millions of dollars from 1933 to 1943 to create new jobs and get Americans back to work constructing public works projects around the nation. Communities got new post offices, federal buildings, roads, schools, courthouses, airports, parks and public artworks. There are probably Works Projects buildings in your own communities, and you can see many of them on The Living New Deal Website, which was built using the Google Maps API.
“Because these public works were rarely marked, the New Deal’s ongoing contribution to American life goes largely unseen,” according to the site. “Given the New Deal’s scale and impact across America, it seems inconceivable that no national register exists of what the New Deal built. The Living New Deal is making visible that enduring legacy.”
This is a fascinating site, recently discovered by the unofficial GoogleMapsMania, where visitors can click on towns and cities and see the Works Projects and learn more about them. The project, which began in 2006, aims to inventory, map and publicize the achievements of the New Deal and its public works across all 50 states, and visitors to the site can even contribute their own insights and suggest projects that should be added to the registry.
Explore Old Maps Around the World, From Your Computer
Lovers of historical old maps and the secrets that such maps can divulge will adore the Old Maps Online Portal, which is a collaboration between The Great Britain Historical Geographical Information System (GIS) Project based at The University of Portsmouth, U.K., and Klokan Technologies, Switzerland. Site visitors can type in place names or click inside a map window and specify a date to find millions of map images for exploration.
Included in the amazing and beautiful collections are old, historical maps from institutions such as Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia; the British Library’s Map Library; Cartography Associates’ David Rumsey Map Collection; the Dutch National Archives; Harvard Library’s Harvard Map Collection; Institut Cartografic de Catalunya in Spain; the National Library of Scotland; the National Library of Wales; the New York Public Library Map Division; and the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library.
See Google Street View Images, Randomly
Imagine taking a 20-cities-in-20-days trip to some far off land, and that will give you a taste of what you can explore around the world using MapCrunch. Using this fun Google Maps-based site, visitors can choose to see Google Street View images from 44 nations across North America, Europe, Asia and other regions, including Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United States.
What makes MapCrunch so much fun is that the images are randomly selected, which gives you that quick-visit feel as though you saw many cities in a few days on a guided tour. Visitors can click the green “Go” button to start their journey, or they can choose their destination from the menu of countries on the screen.
Google Maps Find History, Old Maps, Pinball Joints, Ships and Planes
Looking for a Pinball Wizard
Fans of the old-fashioned game-room gem, pinball, can now find destinations where they can fulfill their dreams of their next high scores using PinballMap.com, a pinball locator, showing all the public pinball machines in select regions of North America, according to the site. The maps are available for select cities and regions, including Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, New York City and Seattle, and are maintained by local players and pinball leagues. Visitors to the site can suggest updates for new or removed machines and can also comment on a machine’s condition, upload photos of locations, add their high scores on a machine and more.
The Plane, the Plane and the Ship, Too
Aviation and ship lovers can dive deep into the hobbies of plane spotting and ship spotting through sites provided by Planefinder and Shipfinder, where enthusiasts can conduct real-time viewing online of planes and ships around the world.
The sites offer fun and fascinating views of planes and ships that are equipped with data transmitters that report their positions in real-time around the world. Visitors can see the flight routes and ship routes, click to get more information about the aircraft and ships they are following, and even search a wide variety of criteria to find specific planes or ships.
Track San Francisco’s Buses
It’s silly and it’s goofy, but trust me, it’s also fun to check out the SF Live Bus site, where Google Maps APIs are used to create a real-time, animated map of San Francisco’s MUNI buses as they make their way around this beautiful city on the bay. The little red inbound and blue outbound icons, identified by their bus route numbers, graphically show the movement of the buses on surface streets. Wouldn’t it be cool if your city did the same thing with your local transit system so you could visually see where the vehicles are on your smartphone or tablet during your commute?