Usage Hints for site locator maps
from Google Maps

These usage hints apply to locator maps reached by clicking a "Google" link in a site data page on this Website.

Our customization:  We present a Webpage containing a Google Map centered on the latitude and longitude of the place being located, as best we know it.  Above the map pane is identification of the place, matching the site data page.  At the center of the map pane is a "map tack" icon which not only pinpoints (or approximates) that location but also provides additional information when clicked.  The initial zoom level of that map gives you the closest practical view of the site and its surroundings consistent with both our knowledge of the location and the currently available overhead photography.  Additional controls and brief help text appear in the side panel of the display.  The various aspects of this customization are explained in more detail below.

NOTE:  In some cases, Google's map data is not correctly aligned with their overhead photography.  When we can see this, we will set the icon location to match the photography rather than the map, even though it's possible that the error lies in the photogrammetry rather than in the cartography.

Need help?  Want advice?  Pick a question . . .

Have a question that's not listed above? or just curious?  Read all the answers in order . . .

If you don't find what you need, use the email link at the bottom of the page to ask your question.

What's "Google Maps" ?

Google Maps is an online dynamic mapping service which is provided at no cost to Websites like ours by, an independent company.  It offers several different services for location-based information for most of the world; we utilize road maps combined with overhead photography.  Initially we used this only for North America, testing its evolving capabilities.  However, beginning in May 2006 we used it for all parts of the world, correctly anticipating that the existing coverage would improve as time goes on. 

Google's road maps and overhead photography can be viewed independently or in a coordinated overlay.  The level of detail available varies widely throughout the world.  For example, in many parts of the USA, much more detail is available for street maps than for overhead photography; but in foreign countries the reverse is frequently true.  From time to time, Google acquires improved street map data for various countries or improved overhead photography for various areas.  We do not attempt to monitor such improvements; but when we happen to find them in the course of maintaining a site data page, we will update the locator map link appropriately.

Why am I not seeing a map?

The most likely reason for not seeing a map in the locator map page is that you are using an old Web browser that is not supported by Google Maps.  Once upon a time, Google provided a way for map customizers (like to detect whether a visitor's browser was supported, and in those days we could tell you if that was why you weren't seeing a map.  However, if you can see a standard Google map but not ours, then it's probably our fault.  In that case, please report the problem by email, giving as much detail as you can.

(Another possible reason for not seeing a map is that you have Javascript turned off in your Web browser, for security reasons.  However, in that case what you should have seen in the site date page is this: "Site locator map via Google (not available without Javascript enabled) or...")  Turn on Javascript in your Web browser.

Why are these usage hints important?

The Google Maps service is aimed at the general user, and doesn't provide any online help because it expects that all aspects of its maps and controls are intuitive.  Since we have added features through our own customization of Google Maps, we supply both generic help for Google and specific help for those added features.  (We will welcome suggestions for further improvements; please use the email link at the bottom of this page.)

This page which you are now reading explains what you might not find intuitive, and also explains how we use that service.  It emphasizes what controls are especially useful in this context, and warns about what you should not do while viewing a locator map which we have customized. 

A significant limitation of Google Maps is that it only works on certain Web browsers (though those are the most widely used).  If you have been unsuccessful at getting our Google maps to work for you, click here for a new window onto Google's own home page for maps.  If your browser isn't supported by Google, it will tell you so.  However, if your browser is supported by Google, but our map doesn't display properly for you, then please tell us about it.

How can I get a different view of the site surroundings?

Google Maps has only a few options to customize the map to meet your particular needs.

Our customizations do not alter any of Google's options.  But we do provide a Reset button (see below) to help you recover from any unwanted changes that you might inadvertently make.

Why might I want a different view of the site surroundings?

The amount of detail which Google Maps provides varies in different parts of the world, and even in different parts of a single country (especially the USA).  So if you zoom in to the closest theoretically possible level, you might be unpleasantly surprised to get, not a map or an aerial view, but the message, "We are sorry, but we don't have imagery/maps at this zoom level for this region."

To save you that disappointment, we have pre-set the locator map for each site at the closest practical level available at the time we last edited the page.  If that isn't the maximum map zoom level, then no closer aerial photography was available when we built the map link, and you'll probably be disappointed with what the aerial view shows.  (But see the exceptions given in the answer to the previous question.)  At that level, you will always be able to switch between Satellite and Map modes. 

In other cases, switching will give you a fine aerial view of the building and its precise location, but won't show you enough of the surroundings to give you a good idea of its general location. 

In some areas of the USA, and possibly elsewhere, the Satellite mode now offers one or two additional closeup levels, which may give a really spectacular view of the building.

What other map controls are available?

If Google Street View photography is available for any part of the visible map, a small button with a yellow "peg man" will be present above the zoom buttons.  Dragging this button onto the map activates Street View; you will have to figure out for yourself how to use it.  (We find it slow and frustrating, but occasionally worth the effort.)  To return from Street View to a regular map (ours or another's), click the left-pointing arrow in the upper left corner of the photo pane.

In addition to overhead photography (satellite) and Street View photography, Google also has perspective photography in many populated areas.  This is only available (and detectable) at fairly close zoom levels (17+).  When it is, another button appears just above the zoom buttons, with four tiny black boxes in its center.  Clicking this button switches between overhead photography and perspective photography.  (Google has made a mistake in the human interface here -- the shape of the four tiny boxes reflects the current display, not what will happen when the button is clicked.)
Caution:  When in perspective mode, the map tack won't appear to be in the correct place.

In the upper right corner of the map pane is a button with four angles forming a square.  Clicking this button puts the map pane into full screen mode; the four angles reverse to indicate that clicking again will return the map to our customized display.

See also the description of the Reset button, below. 

The location marker (red icon) on the map is in the wrong place; how can I help fix it for future visitors?

This situation is most likely to occur when we knew the marker wasn't placed exactly.  Often that's because Google didn't offer good aerial photo detail at that time.  If so, you'll also find that we didn't set the initial zoom level as close as possible.  You may be able to zoom in closer and see better now than we could then.

If you really do know more than we do about where the marker should be, please help as follows:

I tinkered with the map controls too much, and now I'm lost.  How do I get back to the original version?

Use the "Reset" button which we have provided in the right panel of the map window.  This will eliminate any extra markers you have set, and restore the map without reloading the entire page.

But you could also use the "Reload" feature of your Web browser.  (This may be a menu selection or a toolbar button.)

Why isn't the map embedded directly in the site data page?

Although it would be possible to do that, we want to keep the site data pages as simple as possible so that they will load and display as quickly as possible.  Embedding a map that not everyone will want to examine would slow down page loading for everyone, and we think that's a Bad Thing To Do.  Also, having the map displayed separately means that any change we make to how the map is generated will be instantly available to all site data pages which have Google Maps links.

Is there an easy way to get driving directions to/from the site?

Yes!  Just click the red map marker for the site.  A popup balloon will appear, showing the latitude and longitude of that marker along with a word reflecting our opinion of the accuracy of placement of the marker.  The last line of the balloon says "Directions: To here - From here".  Click one of those phrases, and the balloon will expand to include a field where you can type the destination or origin address.  (You may have to click in the field before you can start typing there.)  Then click the Get Directions button, and Google Maps will do the rest.  (Caution:  If your start and end points are not in the same country, and especially if they are not on the same continent, you might get very strange directions!)

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This page was created 2006/02/26 and last revised 2018/05/08.
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