Saturday, December 17, 2005 Maps

I've been looking for apartments on Craigslist and found the Web site Maps to be helpful. Maps, a subsidiary of Amazon, provides images of selected cities, block by block. The photos are taken from the street, from a perspective perpendicular to the flow of traffic on the street. Both sides of a block are usually documented.

Not all blocks have been covered (on the Web site, you can choose whether or not you want to see which blocks have been covered -- otherwise you just get a street-level map image). I also found the interface a little confusing. And, of course, if you're interested in seeing a place outside of the 24 cities currently listed on the site, the service isn't going to do you much good.

But in terms of just getting a general sense for a neighborhood, in a city that I'm already familiar with, it's nice to know what's in the direct vicinity of a listed apartment. Is the neighborhood more industrial? In transition? Very trendy? Do the streets look uncomfortably deserted? Are there any trees?

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