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Showing posts with the label tools & utilities

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!

randymajors.com Web Server Status Update

The randymajors.com website had a few intermittent web server issues today where the website could not be accessed.

Fortunately, if you happened to have bookmarked the Ad-Free, Full-Screen Map tools, those versions of the tools WERE NOT affected.

UPDATE:  The entire randymajors.com website should be fully functioning again now.  If you visit the website and the page is not appearing, you can try to press Ctrl+F5 on your keyboard to force a browser refresh.

Thank you for your patience while this was resolved!

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:

Have you tried AncestorSearch on Google Search for searching for ancestors (or living people) lately?

QUICK LINK TO THE TOOL:  AncestorSearch on Google Search

For a change, this post focuses on Google Search rather than the Google Maps tools on this website.

If you've tried searching for a mention of your ancestors (or living people) using Google Search, you've no doubt run into this little issue from time to time:
Google Search returns too many results


175 MILLION results?  OK, this might take a while...




Enter AncestorSearch on Google Search, a free search tool that uses Google search enhancements so that you are much more likely to find mentions of the ancestors (or living people) you're looking for that are otherwise buried in thousands of Google search results.  Basically, it uses Google advanced search operators behind the scenes so you don't have to spend time typing a bunch of awkward symbols.

An example is probably the easiest way to illustrate how AncestorSearch works.  Let's say I am looking for mention of a marriage of a couple of ancestors.  I might type something like this into Google Search:
OK, only 2,030 results to start to wade through ;)  But as I look through the first page of results, none of them pertain to my ancestors.

So instead, let's do the same search on AncestorSearch on Google Search:

In the above example, I've just typed in the names and locations into the appropriate boxes, then clicked the "Run Full Google Search" button in the lower right corner.  Another browser tab opens with the search results:

ONE result!  Nice.  And when I click the search result, it happens to been an archive page showing a full biography of my ancestors.  (You'll often get more than one result, but it will typically be a very manageable number)

So how does the AncestorSearch tool do this?  In short, Google advanced search operators.  The AncestorSearch tool doesn't do anything magical, but it's a big time saver over typing out all of those quotation marks, reverse name order, pipes and so on.  In the above example, this is the search string that the AncestorSearch sends to Google Search:

"adam smith"|"smith, adam" "caroline meinzer"|"meinzer, caroline"|"caroline meincer"|"meincer, caroline" "stephenson " marriage|married|marriages|wedding|wed|nuptial|nuptials|marry|intention 1860|1861|1862|1863|1864

Now, you can type all of that out manually into Google Search if you really want to...

Give AncestorSearch a try on your ancestors or on living people you're trying to find record of.  For example, Peter Calver, founder of LostCousins, stated in his newsletter "the first time I tried it, it led me to a new 'lost cousin'".

Here are some quick time-saving tips when using AncestorSearch:
  • Use the Tab key to move between input boxes
  • Use the Enter key when you're ready to perform the Google Search
  • Don't worry about upper case or lower case; Google Search is not case-sensitive
  • After you've searched, if you have too many or two few results, just close the browser tab that shows the search results, and make changes in AncestorSearch tab and try again
  • All of the boxes are optional, fill in as many or as few as you want
And here are a few power user tips:
  • If you have too many results, you can narrow the results by checking "Exact" for the year, or checking any of the Marriage, Births or Deaths checkboxes
  • If you're using a county name in the "Place" box, be sure and check that you're using the correct county name for the year you are searching by using this tool:  Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps (I find it's best to try searching both with the current county name and then again with the historical county name, as there is a lot of inconsistency in how historical place names get recorded)
  • If you know that your ancestor's name is often misspelled, just add the alternate spelling in the "Alternate Last Name" box.
  • The AncestorSearch tool has recently been optimized so you can more easily use it on your smartphone as well!  
And finally, here are a few pro-power user tips:
    • Another way to narrow your results further is to check the "Only return search results where persons' names are within 10 words of each other" checkbox at the bottom of the tool (it does what it says on the tin)
    • If you are getting inundated with search results from the major people finder websites, check "Exclude search results from the major people finder search tools" to skip searching those sites
    • Use the "Other search terms" input box at the bottom of the form to add an additional search term, or to ONLY search one website by typing site:wikipedia.org or to EXCLUDE search results from a particular website by typing -site:wikipedia.org
    • Multiple terms can be used in the "Other search terms" input box to add Google advanced search strings to your search, such as this (typed exactly as shown here):
      -site:wikipedia.com -"colorado springs" -denver
      This example excludes search results from wikipedia.com and excludes search results that contain the phrase "colorado springs" and excludes search results that contain the word denver
    • You can "pretend" the last name boxes are first name boxes and vice versa if you want to type alternate spellings of a first name.  The tool doesn't care which is the first and which is the last name.
    • After clicking the "Run Full Google Search" button, you can edit the search string on the Google Search page that appears, or just close that tab to go back and refine your search 

    Did you make any new finds with AncestorSearch?  Please share them in the comments section below!

       

    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 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.



    How to link to an HISTORICAL County Lines map for any Year and Geographic Area of Interest -- overlaid on Google Maps

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

    If you have a website or blog and want to create a link to an HISTORICAL county lines map for ANY YEAR and ANY US STATE,  this article is for you!

    Using the instructions below, you can create a link to Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps for any historical year already zoomed into a particular State, and optionally display the labels showing the county names as of that historical year.

    Here's how it works:   

    To create a map zoomed into a state for a given year, create a link such as this:
    https://www.randymajors.com/p/maps.html?state=CT&year=1788

    To create a map zoomed into a state for a given year, and show county name labels, create a link such as this:
    https://www.randymajors.com/p/maps.html?state=OR&year=1865&labels=show
      TIP: copy/paste the above links and customize to suit your needs

      To explain the above example links, there are three words (called "query parameters") you can use to create a link.  Note, they must be specified in the order shown. 
      • state - expects a 2-character state code as used by the USPS, for example, ?state=CT
      • year - expects a 4-digit historical year, from 1629 through 2000, for example, ?year=1788
      • labels - optionally shows county labels by using the word show, for example, &labels=show

      Here are the maps produced by the two examples above

      The first example links you to an Historical U.S. County Lines map centered on Connecticut, showing you the county boundaries as of 1788:
      Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps example from 1788 Connecticut

      The second example links you to an Historical U.S. County Lines map centered on Oregon, showing you the county lines as of 1865 and labeling the names of the counties on the map:
      Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps example from 1865 Oregon with county name labels

      A few important things to make this work:

      1.  You must use the question mark ( ? ) right after .html, as shown above and below
      2.  You must separate query parameters using the ampersand ( & ), as shown above and below
      3.  You must specify the query parameters in order: state, year and optionally labels

      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 Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool, already zoomed into your area of interest and showing county boundaries as of the year you're interest in!

      Share this with others who may find this functionality useful!


      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!

      Why have all the map tools changed...again?

      If you've recently used any of the map tools on randymajors.com (such as Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps or County Lines on Google Maps, etc) you may have noticed some changes.

      So why fix it if it ain't broke?!

      The biggest reason is that all the map tools were about to break due to Google shutting down their Fusion Tables technology, which is what I had been using to draw all of the maps.  So after some very, very heavy-lifting for many weeks (just ask my wife!) I was able to move all of the map tools to another Google technology.  Hopefully it's mostly transparent to you, the user, as the new tools still use a Google Maps-based map.

      But some things have changed.  The biggest difference you may notice is how you search for a place (e.g. a city, address, etc.).  To search for a place, all map tools now have a "Search places" box above them, like this (outlined in red here to highlight it):
      Search places on Google Maps with Historical County Lines

      The cool thing is that as you begin to type a place or address, it will help you autocomplete what you're looking for and you can just click the choice you want from the drop-down list that appears.

      The other biggest change is based on lots of feedback that people wanted the map to occupy more of their screen.  I moved the website over to a new "responsive" template, which is a fancy-techy term for a website that works to optimize itself for all different screen sizes and devices.  The new layout of the site enables the website to occupy the entire width of your screen, which in turn makes the map bigger.  Also, instead of the "information boxes" appearing within the maps at the bottom of the screen like this...:
      Historical County details as found in Newberry Atlas

      ...now, you'll see the same info just above the map, like this:
      Historical County details as found in Newberry Atlas now at top of the map

      With the change to the new website layout, the listing of tools are now on the upper left side of the page , like this:
      Links to most popular tools on this website including Google Maps with county lines, city limits, ZIP Codes and township range section
      If you DON'T see that list of tools on the upper left side of the page, it means that you are likely running on a lower resolution or smaller screen, and so you get this little "hamburger menu" instead in the far upper left corner of each page on the website:
      Menu button to expose links to Google Maps with county lines, city limits, ZIP Codes and township range section
      Just click it and the left menu bar will appear, including the listing of tools.  This is done so that the left sidebar doesn't take up valuable space on your screen.

      There is also a change in behavior when you click the maps.  Now, the place you click on the map is always marked by a blue dot so you know where you clicked, and the information pane above the map is updated based on the location of the blue dot.

      Also new:  MOBILE!  The map tools should now also be usable on high end mobile devices as well.  You'll get the same basic layout, like this (from iPhone) with the added benefit that the text should now be readable (it really wasn't before):
      Mobile version of Google Maps with county lines, city limits, ZIP Codes and township range section

      I hope these changes are on-balance good for you.  At a minimum, they're at least better than the website getting shut down because of the Google Fusion Tables sunset :)

      With so many changes, no doubt some will take some getting used to.

      And I likely didn't get everything just right, so please please let me know what is and isn't working for you in the comments below, or in the "Get in touch with Randy Majors" form in the very bottom left of each page.



      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:

      Ability to also show US township boundaries on Google Maps with City Limits

      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:
      city limits and township boundaries on Google Maps with City Limits tool

      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:
      city limits and township boundaries on Google Maps with County Lines tool


      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.




      County Lines on Google Maps enhancements, Time Zones and Area Codes tools released

      QUICK LINK TO THE MAP TOOL:  County Lines on Google Maps

      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. 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:

      And one more new tool:  Area Codes on Google Maps




      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.

      NEW:  You can also view several different climate topics for any U.S. location, as described underneath the tool.  It looks something like this:


      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)

        

      Now use your current location on all randymajors.com mapping tools!

      This enhancement applies all of the mapping tools on this website:

      County Lines on Google Maps
      ZIP Codes on Google Maps
      City Limits on Google Maps
      Township Range on Google Maps
      Location Explorer on Google Maps
      Climate Info on Google Maps
      Time Zones on Google Maps
      Area Codes on Google Maps
      Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps

      On all of these randymajors.com mapping tools, you always had to start by typing in a city, address, place, etc.

      Now with this latest enhancement, if you want to know more about your current location, you can just click the "⊕ Locate" buttons in the upper right corner of the map to immediately zoom to your current location.  As a shortcut, you can also see your current county and answer "What county am I in?" here: www.what-county-am-i-in.com

      Depending on which of the above tools you're using, once the map zooms in,  the name of the current county, city, ZIP Code, or historical county will appear, along with all of the applicable boundaries.

      How might this be useful?
      - You want to find out "what county am I in?"
      - You're on the road and standing on your ancestor's farm and want to know what county the farm was part of back in 1850
      - You're in an unfamiliar area and want to know where nearby research locations are where you can dig deeper (e.g. courthouses, libraries, cemeteries)
      - You're travelling in a rural area (and not sure of a town name or address to type, or it's inconvenient to type) and you need to determine your current county or ZIP Code
      - I've heard of people using the tool for a wide variety of other uses that benefit from quickly finding out your current county, from geocaching to real estate title work to disaster support relief

      Feel free to share in the comments if you have other uses for this!

      Technical note:  The "⊕ Locate" functionality will be more accurate on smartphones and other devices containing a GPS.  It will work on most desktop browsers as well, but will often be a rough approximate location.