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Showing posts with the label county lines

Quick Links: County Maps of all 50 U.S. States

If you ever need a map showing the counties of just one state, complete with county name labels, you can find links to those on the aptly titled County Maps of all 50 U.S. States page.

For example, clicking the Iowa County Map link on that page will take you to the County Lines on Google Maps tool already filtered to show just Iowa counties, complete with labels.  It looks like this:


Once on the page, you can zoom in, turn on city limits and townships in the lower left corner, and so on.

Also, if you need to find the county you are currently in (based on your mobile device's location), try the What County Am I In? tool.  And companion tools What City Am I In? and What Township Am I In? -- they do what they say on the tin. ;)

Hope these quick links make it easier to get to the state county map that you need!


Let this FREE tool do the location work for you as you search on Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org



U.S. county boundaries have changed over 17,600 times since America was settled in colonial times. Don’t sabotage your search for ancestors by not knowing the correct county for the historical years you are researching.

While searching on Ancestry or FamilySearch, the free Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker extension for Google Chrome automatically checks that the county existed in the year you are searching, warns of boundary changes, and links to historical county lines on Google Maps for the place and years you are searching!


Install for free today and never let an ancestor fall of the map again!



For a step-by-step example of how the tool works, check out this post:  Ancestor fall off the map? Use this FREE Chrome extension for Ancestry or FamilySearch to find them!

Note, this is the first version of this tool, so if you find any bugs or issues, please contact me on the form on the lower left side of this page.  And if you find it useful, please leave a rating or review on the chrome web store.



New map tool shows Coronavirus Shelter-in-Place & Stay-at-Home Orders on Google Maps

In an effort to try to provide useful information during this trying time, I've been working to maintain an up-to-date interactive map showing all Coronavirus Shelter-in-Place & Stay-at-Home Orders on Google Maps in the US.

The map overlays all U.S. jurisdictions with Shelter-in-Place* or Stay-at-Home* Orders currently in effect or imminent due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus.

Below is a screenshot of the tool, but I encourage you to go to the live map to ensure you're seeing the latest updates.


As with all map tools on this website, you can zoom in and see the relevant county lines, city limits, townships and more.

* While the term "Shelter-In-Place" or "Stay-At-Home" is not precisely accurate, they are the terms being most widely used for jurisdictions where all but essential activities outside the home are currently outlawed.  In general, the exceptions include essential workers, medical necessity, getting groceries and recreational activities such as running, walking and hiking where at least 6 feet social distance is maintained.


If you are aware of an current or imminent Shelter-in-Place or Stay-at-Home order that is not represented on the map tool, please let me know in the comments of this post, along with a link to a reputable government or news website with the announcement.

Please feel free to share if you know of others who would find this useful.

Stay healthy!

New feature: DRAW ANY SHAPE on the map to reveal all of the Counties, ZIP Codes, Cities, Townships and more

With all of the Map tools on the randymajors.com Research Hub, you've always been able to click on the map to know what ZIP Code, city, county or Section Township and Range that you clicked on.

Now with this latest version of the map tools, you can DRAW ANY SHAPE and identify what's there! Here are the simple steps:

    New Drawing Tools button on randymajors Research Hub
    New Drawing Tools on randymajors Research Hub
  1. Click the "Drawing Tools..." button on the left side of the map
  2. Select the shape you want to draw (line, custom polygon or rectangle) in the upper left corner
  3. Draw any shape on the map and double-click the map when you're done 

Here's an example in which I drew a polygon to report on ZIP Codes around Sioux City, Iowa:


See that "Results" box that pops up over the map window?  It reports ALL of the features that the shape you drew touches. So in this example, we have all of the ZIP Codes that my drawn polygon touches.

These new drawing tools work on all of the map tools to select the appropriate main topic of the tool:  countiesZIP CodescitiesSection Township and Rangehistorical U.S. countiesTime Zones, and Area Codes

Copy the Results into another program

If you have some sort of a database, spreadsheet or document, you can easily paste the list of ZIP Codes into that other program.  Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Click inside the Results box that lists the ZIP Codes
  2. Type Ctrl+A to select all of the ZIP Codes
  3. Type Ctrl+C to copy them to your clipboard
  4. Open your other program and either type Ctrl+V or choose Paste from the appropriate menu
When you're done, just click the "EXIT DRAWING" button on the left side of the map.

Create a pdf of your map, including the shape you drew!

Now that you know how to draw a shape on the map, you might want to create a pdf or screenshot of your completed masterpiece.  Let's say you're drawing a parcel of land based on a Section, Township and Range land description.  Follow these steps:
  1. Draw the shape on the map using the Drawing Tools as described above (TIP:  If you need to adjust the shape after you draw it, click the Hand button highlighted in the upper left of the map)
  2. In a few moments, the Results window will appear over the map listing each unique Section Township Range your shape touched.  Click the "CLOSE" button on the Results box so you can see the map.
  3. To create a pdf file of your map, right-click in the light-blue title bar at the top of the map (highlighted below), and choose "Print..." as shown below.
Print a pdf from the randymajors map tools

In the resulting Print preview window that appears, change the "Print Destination" to "Save as pdf".  (If the map doesn't appear quite right, you can try changing from Portrait to Landscape or go back and make your map window smaller and Print again).  

Another option for getting a map into another program is just to click the PrtScr (PrintScreen) key on your keyboard, and then open your other program (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, your blog) and Paste.  That's how I get all these maps in to these blog posts!

Have fun with these powerful new drawing and reporting tools!

Which U.S. states have which levels of local government...and why should I care?

This topic is more complicated than it sounds, so I'll attempt to keep it high level.

Whether you're doing present-day or historical research about a place, it's important to know which levels of local government exist in the state you are researching (e.g. counties, cities, townships).  Why should you care?

  • It may determine which place houses the records you're looking for
  • The exact location often determines which local taxes are levied and which local laws are applicable 
  • It determines who has jurisdiction for a given location (e.g. police, sheriff, etc.)
In addition to providing some definitions, I'll also point you to the Google Map tools on this website that map each level of local government.

What is Township and Range?

I'll get this one out of the way first, as it's often a source of confusion. "Township and range" is NOT a form of local government (not to be confused with "civil townships", covered later).  Instead, "township and range (and section)" is used to establish boundaries for land ownership in many states.  "Township and range" may also be called a "survey township", and is part of the Public Land Survey System (also called the Rectangular Survey System).  Use the Section Township Range on Google Maps tool to explore "township and range."  

Shaded in red below are the states that use the "township and range" system (plus Alaska):
Map of U.S. states that use Township and Range
Map of the U.S. states that use Township and Range

What are counties?

OK, after that jumble of terms, let's move on to the easiest form of local government below the state level:  counties.  According to Wikipedia, a county is "an administrative or political subdivision of a state that consists of a geographic region with specific boundaries and usually some level of governmental authority."  Counties exist in all 50 U.S. states (except it can't be that simple:  rather than counties, Louisiana has parishes and Alaska has boroughs).  

Use the County Lines on Google Maps tool to see present-day counties or the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool to explore historical county boundaries for any historical date.  Use the What County Am I In Right Now tool to find out what county you're standing in.  

Here is a map showing all counties in the lower 48 states:
Map of U.S. showing county lines
Map of the U.S. showing county lines

What are townships?

"Townships" (also called "civil townships") are "a widely used unit of local government in the United States that is subordinate to a county. The term town is used in New England, New York, and Wisconsin to refer to the equivalent of the civil township in these states. Specific responsibilities and the degree of autonomy vary based on each state." (Michigan uses "charter townships" instead.)  "Civil townships" are not to be confused with "township and range," explained above.  

Several tools on this website show "civil townships" by checking the "show townships" checkbox in the lower left of these map toolsCity Limits on Google Maps, County Lines on Google Maps, ZIP Codes on Google Maps, and Elevation on Google Maps.  Use the What Township Am I In tool to see what township you're presently standing in.  Be sure and read about the "Class Codes" described below the city limits map tool for exceptions to what is shown when you view "townships".  

Shaded in green below are the states that have active "civil townships" (several other states, not shown here, have inactive townships, meaning they don't serve a local government purpose):
Map of U.S. showing active civil townships
Map of the U.S. showing active civil townships

What is a City and what are City Limits?

So as to not continue down a rabbit hole, this will be the last form of local government described. 

Cities typically refer to "incorporated places", which are "a type of governmental unit incorporated under state law as a city, town (except the New England states, New York, and Wisconsin), borough (except in Alaska and New York), or village, and having legally prescribed limits, powers, and functions. Requirements for incorporation vary widely among the states."

"City limits" refers to the defined boundary or border of a city.  When a city adds new land into the city limits, that is referred to as annexation.  Further quoting from Wikipedia, "property within a city limit is subject to city taxation and city regulation, and expects city services. Areas outside any city's limit are considered to be unincorporated, and in most U.S. states they are by default regulated and taxed by the county. In others, areas outside a city's limit fall within another type of local government, such as the civil township." 

The main tool to see city limits is City Limits on Google Maps, although several other tools have a checkbox in the lower left to show "city limits".  To check if you're currently standing in the city limits, use the Am I In City Limits tool.  

Shaded in blue below is a map of all "city limits" (aka "incorporated places" discussed here):
Map of U.S. showing city limits
Map of the U.S. showing city limits of incorporated places

Despite this article being over 800 words long, I've attempted to keep my promise of keeping this high level :)  But it can be a complicated topic:  For instance, as you can see from the above maps, there are many states that have both "township and range" and "civil townships", while there are other states that have neither.  

There are hundreds if not thousands of details and exceptions to the above definitions, and they vary from state to state.  At a minimum, hopefully this article helps explain which map tools to use on this website to view the various levels of local government (plus township and range).

Feel free to point out important exceptions to the above definitions in the comments section below.


So...what is randymajors.com Research Hub anyway?

"So what is your website all about?"  I increasingly get asked some form of this question about randymajors.com Research Hub.

A BRIEF BACKSTORY:  Back in 2006-2010, the randymajors.com website was a fairly small collection of blog posts about family history plus some of my photography.  Then, in 2011 I launched the AncestorSearch on Google Search and Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tools primarily aimed at genealogy and historical research.

FAST FORWARD TO 2018:  I decided to broaden the appeal of the mapping and search tools to a more general audience by launching the present-day County Lines on Google Maps tool.  I continued to get more traction with that tool and added more global coverage.  Then I released ZIP Codes on Google Maps.  Of course, I continue to write genealogy how-to/tips articles as well, and enhance the genealogy tools.

Finally, in 2019, I opened the floodgates and launched a whole slew of mapping and search tools including:
In 2019, I also launched the ability to:

GIVEN ALL THIS, WHAT IS THE COMMON THREAD RUNNING THOUGH THE randymajors.com WEBSITE?

In a word:  RESEARCH

randymajors.com Research Hub

Hence the name randymajors.com Research Hub  


I created an About randymajors.com Research Hub page to attempt to state my mission and answer the questions I receive most often.  A few excerpts from that page:

The goal of this website is to make research easier by providing effortless access to publicly available data through familiar, straightforward tools.

The map tools are built on Google Maps and the search tools use Google Search.  Why?
They're the world's most popular mapping app and search engine, and so very familiar to nearly everyone.

Why not use Google Maps itself rather than the map tools on this website?  There are many topics not covered by Google Maps that lots of people would like to see included.  This website aims to fill many of those gaps, such as...

If the data used by the tools on this website is publicly available elsewhere, why use the tools on this website?  In a word, simplicity.  It shouldn't be so cumbersome to see the map you want and the answers you're looking for.  The tools on this website are built so you can get the answers you're looking for with as few clicks and steps as possible.  In most cases, literally one or two clicks.

No downloads, no installation, no importing/exporting required.  Just go to the tool you want to use based on your topic of interest (e.g. county lines, city limits, ZIP Codes), and either type a place you're interested in or zoom on the map, and you have your answer.
A special note to all of my long-time users doing genealogy, ancestry and historical research:  NO WORRIES. THIS RESEARCH FOCUS IS VERY MUCH INTENDED TO INCLUDE A FOCUS ON YOU!

Thanks for your supportive comments and excellent suggestions over the years.  And thank you for sharing the tools with your friends, colleagues and family!



Now you can get access to an AD-FREE version of AncestorSearch on Google Search too!

Back in December, I announced a way to get access to all of the map tools AD-FREE and FULL-SCREEN.

I'm pleased to announce an AD-FREE option is now available for AncestorSearch on Google Search as well!

The functionality is identical, but with no ads:

The ad-free versions of the map and search tools are formatted to work equally well on your smartphone or tablet too!

All the details are on this page:  NEW:  Enjoy ALL of the map and search tools AD-FREE and FULL-SCREEN!

GOOD NEWS:  If you have already signed up for access to the ad-free map tools, you now automatically have access to the ad-free search tools as well!  Just look for the "Login to Ad-Free Version" link in the lower-left corner of each map and search tool.

Use your smartphone to instantly know what City, Township and County you are currently in

Have you tried the What County Am I In? tool?  Using your smartphone, it quickly lets you know what county you are currently in...as in where you are standing or sitting right now.

And now, the What County Am I In? tool has been enhanced to also let you know what city you are in (if you are inside incorporated city limits), and what township you are in (if you are in a township).

When you go to the tool's web page (https://www.randymajors.com/p/what-county-am-i-in.html), you'll see a map like the following, and the listing of the city, township and county you are presently in:
What County Am I In?

In the above, county lines are also shown, and if you check the options in the lower left, you can also see the township boundaries and city limits on the map:
What Township Am I In

What City Am I In?


When you first use the tool, you will likely get asked for permission to use your current location, like this:

For the tool to function, you must allow permission to know your location.  (Note, your location is not stored by this website, but only used once to determine your city, township and county.)

There are a number of reasons why knowing your current county (or city or township) may be useful, including:

  • determining if you're in your county-based sales territory (or city or township)
  • recording city, township and county information when conducting field research
  • performing volunteer/emergency work
  • determining jurisdiction
  • calculating the correct sales tax
  • noting the city, township and county when doing various hobbies such as geocaching


This is evidently a pretty popular question, as Google search console shows thousands of people seeing this website listed in their search results when they search for:

  • what/which county am i in
  • what township am in in
  • what county am i in now
  • am i in the city limits
  • am i within the city limits


Details:  The location is based on your smartphone's GPS location, and will typically be more accurate when you have both cellular service and WiFi turned on.  Of course, the tool should not be used for legal or land survey purposes, but it's a quick and easy way to check jurisdictions with reasonable accuracy.



County info added to Section Township Range on Google Maps tool, plus a tip for historical county research

Sometimes it's hard to determine where you are when using Section, Township and Range Maps.  So to help provide more geographic context when searching for a land parcel, county information has now been added to the Section Township Range on Google Maps tool.

For example, let's do the following "Find parcel" at the bottom of the map:
Find Parcel on Section Township Range on Google Maps Tool

That will show the following map, now including the county name on top as well as dashed gray lines for the county boundaries, like this:

Note the county name shown in the upper right (highlighted with the red box above), and the county line is just to the left of the blue dot on the map.  So as of today, that parcel is located in Elmore County, Idaho.

But what if you're doing historical research and want to know what county that exact location was part of in December 20, 1879 when your ancestor moved there?  Here's how to find out:

Highlight the Longitude, Latitude numbers and type Ctrl+C to copy them to your clipboard (highlight just the numbers as shown below):

Now, go over to the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool.  Once it loads, simply click into the "Search places" box above the map, type Ctrl+V to paste the values from the clipboard, and choose the first item that appears:


Then simply type 12/20/1879 in the "As of date" box at the top of the map, and feel free to zoom in for a closer look:

You can see that parcel (based on that longitude, latitude pasted) was located in now-extinct Alturas County, Idaho Territory as of 20 Dec 1879.

I hope this addition of county information is useful, and now you know another way to search for places as well, this time using longitude, latitude!


For those who have read this far, if you're interested in Ad-Free, Full-Screen Map and Search Tools, you now have an option to get access to that!  Learn more about it here:  NEW: Enjoy ALL of the map and search tools AD-FREE and FULL-SCREEN!


Check this post for more background on the Public Land Survey System, aka Township Range, aka Congressional Townships.

Wishing you and your families and friends a wonderful holiday season!

Enjoy ALL of the map and search tools AD-FREE and FULLSCREEN!

Over the years, I've had lots of requests for a way to subscribe to the map and search tools on randymajors.com rather than having advertisements displayed.

This has been a challenge, as I want to keep the tools free of charge for everyone to use, and the advertising helps offset the significant costs associated with the development and operation of the tools.

I'm excited to say that you now have an opportunity to choose what works best for you:

Free map tools supported by advertising, OR...
Ad-free fullscreen version of County Lines on Google Maps tool
Make a small monthly contribution to enjoy AD-FREE FULLSCREEN map and search tools

The above screenshots are from the County Lines on Google Maps tool, but ALL map and search tools on randymajors.com now have an ad-free, fullscreen version like what is shown on the right side above.*

Here's how the ad-free version works:

  1. You decide how much you want to contribute as part of an automatic monthly subscription.  ALL DOLLAR AMOUNTS give you access to ALL map and search tools; the dollar amounts shown below are suggestions based on how many tools you use.
  2. You get access to ad-free fullscreen versions of ALL map and search tools for any dollar amount you contribute
  3. NEW!  The recurring monthly contribution can be set up using ANY MAJOR CREDIT OR DEBIT CARD or you can use your PayPal account.  You can cancel your contribution at any time and go back to using the free map and search tools supported by advertising. 

Contribute here:

randymajors.com Research Hub logo
A small monthly contribution gives you access to ALL
MAP and SEARCH TOOLS AD-FREE & FULLSCREEN
Google Account e-mail*:
* Requires a Google Account to sign in to the Ad-Free map & search tools
Or, say thank you with a one-time contribution: 
Note, the one-time contribution does NOT provide ad-free access nor include any of the benefits shown at this link, but is much appreciated to help support the development and maintenance of the tools on this website

Upgraded functionality to the Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker Chrome extension for Contributors


NEW!  Are LOCATION ERRORS in your tree keeping you from finding records?

TREE FACT-CHECKING:  In addition to the current functionality on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org search forms, being a Contributor adds Auto-Checker functionality to all of the U.S. locations in all of the facts on all Person profile pages in Ancestry.com trees!  The screenshot below shows an example (click for a larger view):


Plus, when you link through to the maps as shown above, you'll be using the ad-free fullscreen maps!  To contribute, simply click the yellow Contribute button in the blue form above.

HERE'S HOW IT WORKS:
  • Once you contribute, you'll receive a login email right away giving you access to the ad-free fullscreen map tools; login using your Google Account email (usually a gmail address).
  • Then, click the Auto-Checker blue Chrome extension icon in the upper right of your browser and check the box at the bottom that says "I am a randymajors.com Research Hub Contributor".  
  • Now go to any person profile page on any Ancestry.com family tree and you'll automatically see the enhanced Auto-Checker functionality next to each fact containing a U.S. location on the page, as shown in the screenshot above!

I hope you enjoy this option.  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Happy mapping and searching!


* The ad-free version is available for ALL MAP AND SEARCH TOOLS, including:

Check out the new Custom Maps on Google Maps tool

The new Custom Maps on Google Maps makes it easy to create your own custom Google Map using any combination of ZIP Codes, counties, cities and more!

You can use this tool to quickly create:

  • sales territory maps
  • delivery area maps
  • service area maps

...all on Google Maps!

If your territory is composed of dozens of ZIP Codes, you can choose to 'merge' them to show an overall territory boundary.  Then, add your own title to the map, and even choose colors.

An example link you create looks like this:

https://www.randymajors.com/p/customgmap.html?zips=10023,10024,10025,10026&zipboundary=show&title=My+Service+Territory

The resulting map would look something like this:


Be sure and read the full instructions starting at "How do you create your own sales territory, delivery area, or service area map based on ZIP Codes?

Some websites that make use of this custom map functionality


New tool shows what county you are in right now

"What county am I in?"

That's one of the most common Google search terms that people use where randymajors.com appears in Google's search results page.

Given that's evidently a popular query, I thought I'd make it easy for people to immediately get the answer to their question.  Just go to this page:

www.randymajors.com/p/what-county-am-i-in.html

Or even easier, you can just click this to see what county you're currently in:

what-county-am-i-in.com

You'll get a map with the answer at the top, like this:
what county am I in


TIP:  If you're traveling about and already have the map open, you can just click the "⊕ Locate" button in the upper right corner of the map to update your location on the map.

Why might this be useful?

Well, if you're currently at home or your work office, you very likely already know what county you are in.  But if you're traveling, you might want to use your mobile phone to determine what county you are currently in.  Based on user survey results from this past summer, users commonly want to know their current county for these purposes, to name a few:
  • house hunting/real estate
  • determining sales territory
  • field research
  • volunteer/emergency work
  • determining jurisdiction
  • sales tax
  • various hobbies such as geocaching
  • general interest
For this to work, you must have location services enabled on your mobile phone/browser/computer, and if asked "Allow randymajors.com to use your current location?", answer yes.
Hope this makes it one step easier to find out what county you are in!






A quick update on the increased speed of the mapping tools

After some infrastructure upgrades, all of the randymajors.com mapping tools are now operating faster!  In my time tests, I was seeing drawing speeds that were 2.5x to 3x faster than before the upgrade.

The very largest of map layers, such as Section Township Range on Google Maps, seem to see the biggest improvement (drawing in 5-6 seconds now vs 25-30 seconds before the upgrade), although other layers such as Historical Counties, County Lines and ZIP Codes also drew about 2x faster that before.

So you should on average see the information panel above the maps update a bit faster and see the maps draw a bit faster, especially when zoomed in to the state level or closer.  Enjoy!

This update applies to all of the following tools:

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!


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 Area 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 Area 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 a ZIP Code-based Delivery Area/Service Area/Sales Territory and add Title, Colors etc

Tool just updated:  Now it's easier than ever to create your custom delivery area map based on ZIP Codes by using this simple form found here:

Custom Delivery Areas on Google Maps 



A lot of people seem to do a Google search for 'Create territory map with ZIP Codes free'.  This is how to do just that!  To zoom to one or multiple ZIP Codes, and show the overall boundary (e.g. for a service area, sales territory or delivery area), see instructions here:

Custom Territories using ZIP Codes on Google Maps

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 Custom Google Maps Tool, zoomed into your area of interest and showing a ZIP Code based sales territory, service territory or delivery area!

Some websites that make use of this custom map functionality


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.



No more bouncing maps and evasive red dots!

Just a brief note here to let you know of a fix to an issue that has been reported by a number of users of all of the randymajors.com map tools (such as the County Lines on Google Maps, Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps and all the others).

The issue was related to the maps "bouncing" and the red dot (shown below) moving even though the user didn't intend for it to move.
Red dot that shows current location on all randymajors Google Maps mapping tools

In particular, if the user was panning around the map (e.g. dragging the map with their mouse) in order to see something just off the edge of the map, prior to this fix, the red dot moved and the map bounced (changed center) as you panned.  Basically, it was taking whereever you ended the drag of the mouse and making that the new map center.  Furthermore, it would take that new center point represented by the red dot's new location and then update the information pane above the map based on that new location. 

Several people found that behavior to be in the range of unexpected to annoying.  

An example may help further explain the issue:  If you searched for Phoenix, Arizona using the "Search places" box above the map, then once the map appeared with the red dot on Phoenix, you panned (or dragged) the map in order to view what is southeast of Phoenix.  In the past, the County Lines on Google Maps tool would move the red dot to where you ended the "mouse drag" and change from reporting the name as Maricopa County (where Phoenix is) to reporting it as Pinal County or Pima County, depending on how far your dragged the map.  

Also, just single-clicking the map would re-center the map where you clicked and update the information panel.

All that (bad) behavior is gone now!

So, with the new behavior, here's a run down of what does and does not move the red dot (and update the information pane above the maps).

Moves the red dot and updates the information pane:
  • Typing a new place or address into the "Search places" box above the map
  • Single-clicking the map to "explore" the place you clicked
Does NOT move the red dot nor update the information pane:
  • Panning the map by dragging it with the mouse (or using two-fingers to move the map on iOS) 
  • Zooming in or out using the "+" or "-" buttons in the upper left corner of the map (or pinch-zooming on iOS)
These last two changes enable you to explore around the edges of the map view by dragging the map around WITHOUT changing the red dot's location and information pane.  

And you can now single-click around the map to see information about where you clicked WITHOUT the map center "bouncing" around and changing unexpectedly.

Using the same example above, now if you search for Phoenix, Arizona using the "Search places" box, the red dot will appear on Phoenix and the information pane will report Maricopa County.  Now if you drag the map to the southeast to see something on the edge of the map, the red dot will stay put in Phoenix, the map won't bounce, and the information pane will still report Maricopa County.

That was a bit more wordy than I intended it to be, but bottom-line: just view the four bullets above and you should understand the new map behavior.

Or even easier:  The click and pan behavior now operates like the Google Maps you know and love.

And hopefully this new map behavior is in the range of expected to enjoyable :)

Happy mapping!