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Off topic: Catch my wife Laura on JEOPARDY! tonight

Tune in to JEOPARDY! tonight to catch my wife Laura displaying her trivia prowess 😎

(I'm so lucky to have such an adorable smart wife 😍 )

Laura Majors on JEOPARDY!

Overlay present-day county lines on the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool

Based on an idea from a current user (thanks Steve!), there's now an option to overlay present-day county lines on top of historical county lines.

This gives you the ability to see at a glance if you're researching in an area and timeframe where the county lines have shifted between the historical date you're viewing and the present-day.  To use this feature, just check the "Also show present-day county lines" checkbox in the lower left of the map on the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool. 

When you check that box, you'll see thin red lines (present-day county lines) overlaid on top of the thicker brown lines (historical county lines).  You'll also see the "Present-day County" name listed in small red text above the map (next to the latitude/longitude).

As an example, let's say we're researching the Nashville area as of 15 Jul 1830.  (Type Nashville in the "Search places" box above the map and type 7/15/1830 in the "As of date" box above the map).
Then, check the "Also show present day county lines" checkbox, and you'll get a map that looks like this:

Present day counties overlaid on Historical US Counties on Google Maps tool, showing Nashville in 1830

On the above map, I've highlighted in yellow where the present-day county information is shown, based on the exact location of the red dot on the map. This tells us that this location was Davidson County, TN in 1830 and today, it still is Davidson County.

But, see the faint red lines in the above map?  Those are the present-day county lines.  So we can clearly see that the western side of Davidson County in 1830 is another county today, as is a small section in the southwest corner of 1830 Davidson County.  To find out what present-day county is in those two areas, just click the map.  You'll get this:
Present day Cheatham County on Historical US Counties on Google Maps tool, showing Nashville in 1830

The above map shows us that the western part of 1830 Davidson County where I clicked (the red dot) is now Cheatham County. 

This alerts us that if we are researching an ancestor who lived in Ashland City in 1830 (see the northwest part of 1830 Davidson County), those records may be housed in Davidson County's courthouse (barring the court house didn't burn down!).  Importantly, it tells us that if we're doing an 1830 Census search on Ancestry or FamilySearch (for example) for those ancestors that lived near Ashland City in 1830, we should make sure and filter the place based on Davidson County since that is where Ashland City was located in 1830 (even though it's in Cheatham County today).  I wrote an in depth how-to on this topic here:  How you may be sabotaging your search for ancestors...and how to fix it!

What about that little southwestern part of 1830 Davidson County?  What county is that area part of today?  Well, you'll have to go to the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool and find out!

Now feel free to add City Limits to your County Maps -- and actually see what's going on!

This enhancement pertains to the County Lines on Google Maps and Elevation on Google Maps tools.

As you may already know, you can choose to show US City Limits on your county lines map by checking the "Also show US city limits" checkbox in the lower left corner of the map.

If you've done that before, and happened to be looking in a busy metro area, you get a somewhat jumbled mess of red lines, making it hard to distinguish counties and cities.  Here's what it used to look like:
City Limits on County Lines on Google Maps, all red lines

Now, when you check the "Also show US city limits" checkbox, you can still see the red county outlines, AND now you get a colorful array of cities gracefully outlined in light grey:
City Limits on County Lines on Google Maps, colorized


Hopefully this way it's easier to distinguish the county lines (red) from the cities (light gray, lightly filled in with pastel colors).  But who am I kidding, it's New York, so it's still going to look kinda busy!

By the way, don't forget you can also show the names of the counties on the map by checking the "Show county labels" checkbox in the lower left corner:
City Limits on County Lines on Google Maps, colorized and labeled with county names


Head on over to the County Lines on Google Maps tool and check it out!


A Colorful Post about City Limits and ZIP Codes

This post is all about color.  In particular, adding color to the city limits and ZIP Codes in these tools:
A few people have wondered if I could add color to the city limits -- you know -- kind of like in those old Rand McNally road atlases, or National Geographic maps.

Now, the city limits are colored in by default.  So when you use the City Limits map tool, the map will look like this:

City Limits in the Los Angeles Area on Google Maps, colorized

This should make it much easier to distinguish the individual cities, especially in large metropolitan areas.  (In the past, the city limit lines were all red, making difficult to distinguish the individual cities from one another.)

Here's a before and after with ZIP Codes, including labels.

Without color:
Arkansas ZIP Codes on Google Maps, all red lines

And Colorized using the button in the upper left of the ZIP Codes map:
Arkansas ZIP Codes on Google Maps, colorized

Hopefully, this enhancement makes the maps a little easier on the eyes ;)

Check out these new enhancements here:
Enjoy, leave comments, and share with those who care!



New Tool shows Elevations on Google Maps, all over the world

With the new Elevation on Google Maps tool, you can find the elevation of any place worldwide.

Use the "Search places" box to type an address, city or other place, and see it's approximate elevation, or just explore by clicking around the map.  In addition to elevation, the tool will also display other information about your chosen location, such as city, county, state, country and latitude/longitude.

Here's an example showing the historic center of Mexico City at about 7,359 feet:

Elevation on Google Maps tool showing Elevation of Mexico City


Want to see an elevation profile along your path or route?

Just click the blue "Elevation Profile..." button on the left side of the map.  Then, slowly draw the path by clicking along your desired route, then click "Stop Drawing" when you're done. (You can also just draw a straight line if you want to see the elevation profile across a whole state, for example).  Here's an Elevation Profile across Colorado:
Elevation on Google Maps tool showing Elevation Profile across Colorado

Want to use the metric system?  You can also change the units from feet/miles to meters/kilometers by clicking the "Use m/km" button.

One more cool feature:  Ever been curious about other places that are the same elevation?  For instance, if I search for Madrid and check the "Show similar elevations" (then zoom the map out), I get a map showing a set of contour lines representing all the places within +/- 50ft elevation (or +/- 50m):

Elevation on Google Maps tool showing similar elevations to Madrid
 
If you're any kind of card-carrying map geek like me, you'll find that feature pretty fun to play with! ;)

For a more complete understanding of the capabilities, be sure and read the QUICK TIPS and the COVERAGE NOTES below the Elevation on Google Maps tool.

Please feel free to share this tool with your friends, and leave any comments below!

Enjoy!

Create a custom County Lines map or ZIP Code-based Sales/Service/Delivery Territory map on the fly -- overlaid on Google Maps

I've had requests from several people to add the capability to create links on their website that would open up the County Lines on Google Maps tool already focused on their region of interest.
Several have also wondered if there is a way to create a ZIP Code-based Sales/Service/Delivery Territory map on the fly.

Now you can!  Here's how it works:

Create a map zoomed to a State and show County Name labels

To simply zoom to a state and optionally show county name labels and a map title, create a link such as this:

https://www.randymajors.com/p/countygmap.html?state=CT&labels=show
TIP: copy/paste the links below and customize to suit your needs

The parameters you can use are as follows:
  • state - expects a 2-character state code as used by the USPS, for example, ?state=CT
  • onestate - optionally shows ONLY the counties in the state specified by the state parameter by using the word show, as in, &onestate=show (in other words, this will hide the county boundaries that are outside of your state of interest)
  • title - optionally give your map a title (use the + character to represent spaces), for example, &title=Connecticut+Counties
  • labels - optionally shows county labels by using the word show, as in, &labels=show
  • color - optionally choose the color used for the Map Title, expects a 6-character hex color code without the leading # character, for example, &color=00FF00 would create a green map title (free tools are widely available on the internet to find your hex color)

Create a map zoomed to ZIP Code(s) and optionally show the ZIP Code Boundaries and add a Title

To zoom to one or multiple ZIP Codes, and optionally show their boundary (e.g. for a service territory, sales territory or delivery area), create a link such as this:

https://www.randymajors.com/p/countygmap.html?zips=10023,10024,10025,10026&zipboundary=show&title=My+Service+Territory
TIP: copy/paste the links below and customize to suit your needs

The parameters you can use are as follows:
      • zips - expects a comma-separated list of one or multiple 5-digit U.S. ZIP Code(s) (do not use spaces between the commas), for example, ?zips=10023,10024
      • zipboundary - optionally shows a merged overall boundary based on the zips (e.g. for a service territory or delivery area) by using the word show, as in, &zipboundary=show 
      • title - optionally give your map a title (use the + character to represent spaces), for example, &title=My+Sales+Territory
      • color - optionally choose the color used for the Map Title and the ZIP boundary, expects a 6-character hex color code without the leading # character, for example, &color=00FF00 would create a green map title and ZIP boundary (free tools are widely available on the internet to find your hex color)
      • labels - optionally shows county labels by using the word show, as in, &labels=show

      Maps created from the above two examples

      The first example links you to a County Lines map centered on Connecticut, showing you the county lines and labeling the names of the counties on the map:
      Google Maps with County Boundaries example from Connecticut including county name labels


      The second example creates a Service Territory Map based on a list of ZIP Codes (10023,10024,10025,10026) and creates a title for the map:
      Create a custom County Lines map or ZIP Code-based Sales/Service/Delivery Territory map on the fly, overlaid on Google Maps


      A few important things to make this work:

      1.  You must use the question mark ( ? ) right after .html, as shown above and below
      2.  Do NOT use spaces anywhere in the URL or query parameters
      3.  You must separate query parameters using the ampersand ( & ), as shown above and below
      4.  User the + character to represent spaces in the title parameter

      TIP:  For simplicity, you can drop the https://www from the front and just create the link as:

      With this functionality, you can feel free to create links on your own website that open a window to the County Lines on Google Maps tool, already zoomed into your area of interest OR showing a ZIP Code based sales territory, service territory or delivery area!

      Feel free to share this with others who may find this functionality useful!


      NOTE:  The above article relates to PRESENT-day County Lines.  Here are the instructions for linking to HISTORICAL County Lines.