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A New Way to Map Manhattan

By Sree Sreenivasan | October 17, 2011 3:06pm

At a time when Google Maps is so useful, and so dominant, I've not had a reason to look at another map service. Until now.

I first read about CityMaps.com, an NYC-based maps startup in July, when DNAinfo's Amy Zimmer wrote about its launch:

A new website is aiming to help struggling businesses hurt by the Second Avenue subway construction by letting local merchants broadcast their happy hours, cashmere sweater sales or other information on an interactive map in real time, CityMaps' founders want businesses across the city to use the site as a sort of digital sidewalk blackboard, but they're making a special effort to reach out to stores in the path of the subway construction.

That particular Second Avenue angle turns out to be just a sliver of CityMaps’ ambitions. From the site’s About page:

For consumers, CityMaps is a one-stop shop for gathering accurate information and details about a particular city, a specific neighborhood or even a single city block.  The best tools that social media has to offer combined with our own proprietary technology enables CityMaps to effectively aggregate information including restaurant menus, reviews, ratings, and reservation tools, local deals, movie tickets, and even parking rates from Yelp, CitySearch, Twitter feeds, Fandango, Groupon, Facebook and other popular sites.

For businesses, CityMaps offers a platform akin to a virtual storefront or a sidewalk blackboard where retailers can post announcements, advertisements, and other specific information using their favorite social media tools to communicate straight with their customers and market themselves in new and exciting ways.

Over the last couple of days, I've been playing with CityMaps and have found it to be a site worth visiting (and re-visiting) for those of us trying to get around the city. The main reason is that it shows you Manhattan in a new way, focusing on the stores and other businesses that we use to navigate our neighborhoods.

When you arrive at the site, you see the close-up of Midtown Manhattan and the first thing that strikes you is the proliferation of logos of store and organizations.

Click on any store’s logo and you get information about it, including the phone number (I wish the hours were listed on all stores), as well as a link to reviews sucked in from sites like CitySearch, and where, available, deals and coupons.

Given how fast stores go out of business in this city, some stores that have shut down continue to show up on the maps. The service may want to incorporate a “report this store’s closing” crowd-sourcing feature.

The site is in beta mode and features only New York City (mainly Manhattan) so far, but you can see how this could be part of the future of maps.

What do you think? Is this something you’d use? Post your comments below using your Facebook account or on Twitter @sree,

Every week, DNAinfo contributing editor (and Columbia Journalism professor) Sree Sreenivasan shares his observations about the changing media landscape.