Create a custom area map based on a list of States or ZIP Codes

The Custom Areas using ZIP Codes tool has been enhanced so you can also use U.S. States to define your custom area map.

This can be useful to show:
  • service area maps
  • sales territory maps
  • delivery area maps
  • other custom area map of any topic defined by States or ZIP Codes
To build a map based on states, create a URL like the following:

Here's what the above map looks like:

You can take a screenshot of the static map to include it on your own website, and also create a link like this to let your website users go to an interactive Google Map:  Click to see My Business Coverage Area

Of course you can also still define your custom area map based on ZIP Codes

To create a custom delivery area, service area, or sales territory map based on a list of ZIP Codes, use this form:  Custom Areas using ZIP Codes - Create Map Form.  

For easy use, note that you can draw a custom shape on the map to define your custom area by using the option outlined below:
Create custom area using ZIP Codes on Google Maps

Just draw the area on the map above the form, then click the Finished Map Link to see the results.

Happy mapping!

Option to show businesses, attractions and other points of interest on all map tools

The map tools on start with a clean map, such as this from the What City Am I In? map tool, where city names and neighborhood names appear:

What City Am I In map tool

Now you can choose to show points of interest, businesses, attractions and more by clicking the POI button in the upper right corner of the map.  When you click the button, Google's default place listings appear, with attractions typically showing first, as shown below.

What City Am I In map tool with POIs

As you zoom in further, more points of interest, businesses and more will appear.  Current place information (such as temporary closures, etc.) appears with the label.  Click the label for more detailed information and to pop open a place listing in Google Maps.

What City Am I In POIs detail

To get back to a clean map, just click either the Map or Satellite button in the upper right corner.

The POI button is now available on all map tools.

Easier Sign In to Ad-Free Fullscreen Map and Search Tools

Thanks to a suggestion from a user, it is now much easier to login to the Ad-Free Fullscreen Map and Search tools on Research Hub.

Rather than having to hunt for a little Login link at the bottom of each tool, you can simply click the "Sign In or Join" button in the upper right corner of any page on  It looks like this:

Once you click the Sign In or Join button, just click the "Sign in with Google" button that appears:

After signing in, you'll be taken to the ad-free fullscreen version of the map tool you were currently using.  To use other tools, click the "Map & Search Tools" button in the upper right, or click the logo in the upper left to view posts, tips and other content.

Hope that makes it a little quicker and easier to sign in!

Learn more about the Ad-Free, Full-Screen Map and Search tools hereAd-Free Fullscreen Map and Search Tools here.

Historical US Counties on Google Maps enhanced to match Census dates, adds townships

With Census season upon us, I've made a little update to the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool.

Now, when you search for a year that was also a U.S. Federal Census year (e.g. 1790-2020) , the date will automatically set to the day of the Census that year.

Per the Census Bureau, "From 1790 to 1820, the censuses were conducted as of the first Monday in August (August 2, 1790; August 4, 1800; August 6, 1810; August 7, 1820); the 1830-1880 and 1900 censuses were as of June 1; the 1890 census was as of June 2; April 15 was Census Day in 1910; and the 1920 census was as of January 1. Since 1930, Census Day has been April 1."  Yes, since 1930, Census Day is April Fool's with that what you will ;)

So, for example, if you're using the Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker Chrome extension for Ancestry and FamilySearch, and happen to search a Census year, your map will open up linked to the correct census date, so you know you're searching in the correct county for that ancestor in that year!

(See Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker overview and complete write-up, and join the nearly 1,000 people who have downloaded it for free here since its release a few weeks ago)

Here's an example searching on Ancestry for a Robert Jones living in Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois in 1820.

First, you'll be surprised/indifferent/relieved to see that the Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker correctly tells you that Sangamon County did NOT exist in 1820, together with a handy link so you can see what DID exist! By the way, I didn't type Sangamon County in the Search form, Ancestry's auto-complete menu suggested it.  (see Auto-Checker screenshot below)

Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker 1820 example

Click the "View MAP of 1820 Illinois counties" link in the Auto-Checker, and you'll get a new tab showing you historical counties from that year, centered on Springfield!

First, you'll notice that Springfield was in Madison County, Illinois that year!  (No, Springfield didn't move...the county lines did.)

Next, you'll notice that the date is set to 8/7/1820 since that's when the Census was taken that year.  (see map screenshot below)
Springfield IL in 1820

By the way, of course you can search on any exact date in the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool, but if you just type a four-digit year and it's a federal census year, the date will default to the Census date that year!

And bonus for reading this far:  

In the lower left corner of the Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps tool, you now have a checkbox to "Also show US townships".   Those are present-day township lines, but they often will align with historical township names and provide additional local context.  Here's what it shows if we click around Pleasant Plains just west of Springfield:

Springfield now Sangamon County

As shown above, Pleasant Plains is in Cartwright township.  Also, in the above example, I've checked "Also show present-day county lines", so we can be relieved to see this really is where Sangamon County is today!

Happy searching and mapping!