13 June 2019

Are you talking about townships or townships?

You're in luck either way:

If you want to map Township/Range/Section, I've just released a new tool called Township Range on Google Maps that maps them all the way down to the quarter quarter section. These townships are part of the Public Land Survey System found in roughly 30 states in the U.S. (which you can read about here).  You can search by address, place, GPS coordinates, or do a reverse find by Section, Township, Range.  They look something like this:


Using the Township Range on Google Maps tool shown above, you can:

  1. Search by address or place using the "Search places" box above the map
  2. Use the "Find parcel" tool on the left side of the map if you have a known Section Township Range you want to map
  3. Just click around the map to see which township, range, section and even quarter and quarter quarter section you clicked in  

On the other hand, if you want the other type of townships (e.g. the level between county and city in many states) discussed in my last post, they can be found on both the City Limits on Google Maps tool and the County Lines on Google Maps tool by checking the box in the lower left corner of the mapHere's an article on this type of township.  This is an example of this type of township on the map:

Be sure and read the coverage notes and usage tips below each map tool.

Hope these are useful in your research!  Feel free to share with anyone you think may find the tools useful.

05 June 2019

Townships have arrived!

One of the most commonly requested features I've heard over the past several months is the ability to map townships.

Well, now you can on both the County Lines on Google Maps and the City Limits on Google Maps tools by checking the "Also show townships" box in the lower left corner of both map tools:


If you're using the City Limits on Google Maps tool and you search for a place or address that is in a township, that township will be highlighted on the map for you even if you don't have the "Also show townships" checkbox checked.  This is based on the assumption that if you're using the City Limits tool, you probably want to know if a place or address is part of a city-like entity, which townships often are.  So, searching for Manalapan township, NJ will produce a map like this:

Checking the "Also show townships" checkbox adds all of the rest of the townships to the map.

To see townships on the County Lines on Google Maps tool, just check "Also show US townships".  If you then click on the map or search a place or address that happens to also be part of a township, you will see that information listed at the bottom of the map:


So, just remember, if you want to see the City or Townships highlighted on the map, use the City Limits on Google Maps tool.

Enjoy!  Feel free to share this tool and leave any comments below.


For those who want to dive a tad deeper...

By way of background, townships are primary governmental or administrative divisions of a county (separate from a city or town) found in much of the northeastern and midwestern U.S. states.  Here's a map showing where townships are present:

These are the townships that can be viewed on the County Lines on Google Maps tool and the City Limits on Google Maps tools.

The above townships are not to be confused with the Townships that are part of the Township, Range, Section designation used by the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) in 30 states in the west, central and southern U.S.  This latter PLSS type of Township/Range/Section can be viewed on the Township Range on Google Maps tool on this website.




04 June 2019

Several upgrades to the City Limits on Google Maps tool

Following on from the enhancements to the County Lines on Google Maps tool, I've made several improvements to the City Limits on Google Maps tool as well:

1. In addition to the city limits drawing, you can optionally choose to show county lines as well.  Just check the "Also show county lines" checkbox in the bottom left corner of the map:

2.  There are a couple of enhancements related to Latitude/Longitude or GPS coordinates.  The first one is that the Latitude/Longitude of the place you clicked on (or typed) appears at the bottom of the map (Also, the area of the city in square miles now appears below the map too).  The other new feature is that you can now type GPS coordinates into the "Search places" box above the map.  For example, let's say you have a GPS coordinate of 105.25° W, 40° N.
The format for typing GPS coordinates into the map is Longitude first, Latitude second.  Longitudes west of the Greenwich Prime Meridian* are always a negative value, as are latitudes south of the equator.  So in this example, you would type -105.25, 40 and a drop-down menu will appear with the fully formatted coordinates for you to click on.  Like this:


3. Some users commented that it was sometimes hard to see the city limits of the city you're looking at when that city is adjacent to a lot of other cities in a metropolitan area, for example.  To help with that, your selected city's boundaries are now highlighted in brighter red and its interior shaded light yellow to help it stand out a bit (note I didn't want to shade the yellow too dark or it will obscure the roads and other map features within the city you're looking at).  Here's an example showing Overland Park, Kansas:

4. You can now use your current location by clicking the "⊕ Locate" button in the upper right corner of the map.  The Locate button will be more accurate on smartphones and other devices containing a GPS; desktop browsers typically show an approximate location.

5. One final enhancement, per user request:  you can click the "☐ expand" button in upper right to get a larger map window optimized for your particular screen size.  After expanding the map, click the "☐ reset" button in the upper right to return to the original map size.

Be sure to read the coverage notes and usage tips below the tool.

I hope you enjoy these enhancements!  Feel free to leave comments below.


P.S.  Also, thanks to all those who have taken a few moments to provide feedback on the tools in the user surveys!  I'm receiving really good feedback, and am humbled at the number of great things people are using the tools for.  I'll aim to provide some high-level summaries of the survey results in the next couple of weeks.  If you haven't provided feedback yet, and would like to, please find the details here.  I very much appreciate it!


* By the way, speaking of the Greenwich Prime Meridian, I've also released a new tool that shows Time Zones on Google Maps.  With it, you can see the time zone boundaries, time zone name, GMT offset, and the current local time anywhere in the world!  Be sure to read the usage notes and coverage info below the tool.  Here's a sample screenshot, with city/county details shown:

31 May 2019

County Lines on Google Maps enhancements, Time Zones tool released

This is just a quick note to let you know of a few enhancements to the County Lines on Google Maps tool, as well as the release of the worldwide Time Zones on Google Maps tool.

First, for the county lines tool:

1.  When searching in the US, you can now choose to also show City Limits at the same time as County Lines.  Just check this little box in the lower left corner of the map:
With "Also show US city limits" checked, you'll be able to click on a place on the map (or type a place or address in the "Search places" box above the map) and see not only the County, State, and Country, but the City too.  For example:

2.  There are a couple of enhancements related to Latitude/Longitude or GPS coordinates.  The first one (which has been present for a few months), is that the Latitude/Longitude of the place you clicked on (or typed) appears at the bottom of the map, as shown above.

The other new feature is that you can now type GPS coordinates into the "Search places" box above the map.  For example, let's say you have a GPS coordinate of 105.25° W, 40° N.
-- CONTINUED BELOW --


The format for typing GPS coordinates into the map is Longitude first, Latitude second.  Longitudes west of the Greenwich Prime Meridian* are always a negative value, as are latitudes south of the equator.  So in this example, you would type -105.25, 40 and a drop-down menu will appear with the fully formatted coordinates for you to click on.  Like this:


Click the top choice in the drop-down menu, and you end up somewhere in Boulder, Colorado in this example:


3. Some people like to search for places by typing in an address, place, city, etc. into the "Search places" box above the map.  But some people like to just start exploring the map by clicking around, zooming, panning etc.  If you're in that latter category, you can do that now...you don't have to type if you don't want to!

4. You can now use your current location by clicking the "⊕ Locate" button in the upper right corner of the map.  The Locate button will be more accurate on smartphones and other devices containing a GPS; desktop browsers typically show an approximate location.

5. One final enhancement, per user request:  you can click the "☐ expand" button in upper right to get a larger map window optimized for your particular screen size.  After expanding the map, click the "☐ reset" button in the upper right to return to the original map size.


As always, the County Lines on Google Maps tool includes county boundary lines, or their equivalent, for any place in the U.S., Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico and Switzerland.  Be sure to read the coverage notes and usage tips below the tool.

I hope you enjoy these enhancements!  Feel free to leave comments below.


P.S.  Also, thanks to all those who have taken a few moments to provide feedback on the tools in the user surveys!  I'm receiving really good feedback, and am humbled at the number of great things people are using the tools for.  I'll aim to provide some high-level summaries of the survey results in the next couple of weeks.  If you haven't provided feedback yet, and would like to, please find the details here.  I very much appreciate it!


* By the way, speaking of the Greenwich Prime Meridian, I've also released a new tool that shows Time Zones on Google Maps.  With it, you can see the time zone boundaries, time zone name, GMT offset, and the current local time anywhere in the world!  Be sure to read the usage notes and coverage info below the tool.  Here's a sample screenshot, with city/county details shown:



28 May 2019

How can I improve the randymajors.com mapping and search tools for you?

With many tools getting quite a lot of usage on the randymajors.com website, it's a good time for me to ask users what I can do to improve the tools.

I'd be grateful if you would take a few minutes to provide feedback on the tools you use by following the links below.  Your feedback will help ensure I focus on the things that are most important (including new tools you wish existed!).

Please click links or images below to be taken to the survey for that tool.  Your responses will remain anonymous.  (Visit the tools using the links on the right side of this page; visit the surveys using the links below.)

County Lines on Google Maps (this is the present-day county lines tool, see the historical county lines tool below)

ZIP Codes on Google Maps

Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps (this is the historical county lines tool, see the present-day county lines tool above)





Thanks so much for your time!
Randy



15 May 2019

For the map and geography geek in you...

For those of you who are map and geography geeks like me, I've just released a new tool I created on Google Maps that I hope you find both informative and maybe even fun!

I named the tool Location Explorer on Google Maps.

Think of it as kind of a "drill-down" for any chosen U.S. location -- be it a place or address. Not sure how to best describe it...so let's use pictures:


For the above example, I simply typed an address in Salt Lake City, and the 12 above maps appeared.  The maps show all of the following "topics" for your chosen location (the address or place you typed), depicted by the red dot:

  • City Limits
  • County Lines
  • State Lines
  • ZIP Code Boundaries
  • Area Code Boundaries
  • US Congressional District Boundaries
  • Latitude and Longitude (by request, I've also added Township and Range to this map window, where applicable)
  • Watershed (also known as Drainage Basin)
  • Closest National Park or National Forest, including boundaries
  • Elevation
  • Slope (the steepness of the land)
  • Aspect (the compass direction the land slopes down in)

In addition to seeing the above topics on the 12 maps, the name or other relevant information for each topic is labeled in the upper right corner of each map.

If the map isn't exactly where you want to see the above information for, you can simply click any of the maps at a new nearby location or just type a new location above.  You can also zoom in or out using the + and - buttons in the upper left of the first map or last map.  Note that all of the maps stay "in sync" with each other as you change locations.

One thing...please be patient as the map layers the tool uses are very large, and the maps may take up to 10-15 seconds to finish drawing.  To get a much more detailed understanding of how to best use the tool, and exactly what is depicted on the maps, be sure and read the detailed tips and coverage notes below the map on the page.


This is a first version of this tool, so think of it as a beta version that may very well break or otherwise function erratically.  And I'll definitely be adding topics and tweaking functionality continuously.  In the meantime, I welcome your comments, compliments, suggestions, possible uses for the tool or any other feedback in the Comments section below.

I hope you have as much fun exploring the tool as I've had building it!  And yes, you can definitely call me a geogeek.

(As a reminder, if you want to explore many of these topics individually on a large Google Map, you can use these tools:  County Lines on Google Maps, City Limits on Google Maps, ZIP Codes on Google Maps and Area Codes on Google Maps.  For historical county lines, use Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps)

  

27 April 2019

How can you see city limits on Google Maps?

Short answer...you can't. Except for one at a time, like this, where I typed "St Louis" in standard Google Maps:

But what if (for some reason) you want to see ALL of the city limits in an area.  Well now you can here:  City Limits on Google Maps

It looks like this:

-- CONTINUED BELOW --


The city limits can be very detailed and so may take a few moments to draw:


Despite this being somewhat of a mess to look at, I've had several people who have been using my County Lines on Google Maps tool who have requested being able to view city limits on Google Maps.  Why?  Here are some possible reasons:
  • To be able to type an address and know what city it's in or if it's in an unincorporated area
  • To be able to explore the map interactively and see city boundaries around your neighborhood of interest
  • To quickly answer jurisdictional questions about an address, point or neighborhood on a map
  • To find what areas around your metro area are unincorporated, meaning that they may not have local sales tax there. (Note: I'm not giving tax advice; talk to your tax advisor for that :) )
  • Any of a number of real estate related queries where knowing the city comes into play
What other uses do you have for seeing City Limits on Google Maps?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

(This is version 1.0, so please also let me know if you encounter errors.)

Also, another mapping tool I just released:  Area Codes on Google Maps


11 April 2019

Latitude and Longitude now displayed on County Lines on Google Maps tool

A few users have requested the ability to see the latitude and longitude for their chosen location while using the County Lines on Google Maps tool.  This functionality has now been added.

As usual, just start by typing in a place name or address for which you want to see nearby county lines, then click "Go!".  Now, in addition to seeing the county name at the bottom of the map, just below that you will also see the latitude and longitude for the red map marker, as shown below:


The latitude and longitude displayed is for the red map marker, so if you wish you can zoom in further and click somewhere else on the map.  You will then see the county name where you clicked as well as the latitude and longitude for the red map marker, as shown here:


If you are looking for the approximate latitude and longitude for a large tract of land, you could change the map to show satellite imagery by clicking the "Hybrid" button in the lower left corner of the map.  Then click on the map where you want to know the approximate latitude and longitude, as shown below:


Another neat little feature is to click the "Use Current Location" button (found just to the right of the "Go!" button) to see the approximate latitude and longitude of your current location.  A write-up on that functionality can be found here.

Important technical note and disclaimer:  While the number of decimals in the latitude and longitude displayed for the map marker imply a positional accuracy of within a few feet, note that Google Maps is not inherently that accurate, and therefore this tool should not be used for legal purposes or anything beyond entertainment value.  Here is a useful article that discusses accuracy of Google Maps' latitudes and longitudes.