1. Navigating the Internet for Online or Interactive Maps

With GIS, open software and access to geospatial data, making a map has never been easier. Which means, there are a lot of online maps out there.

Like any resource, you must critically evaluate the source, to make sure it passes the CRAP test.

Most importantly, check out the end of the url and who authored the map. Where did they get their data from?

For example,

I want to find a map of New York City's land use.

1. Open your browser, choose your preferred search engine (for the purposes of this guide, I am using Google)

2. Enter keywords New York City and Land Use AND Map OR GIS


  • Don't limit to Images. By doing so, you'll get map images from any source and many are static maps
  • Adding GIS or Map is recommended; this way you will find maps that have used geospatial data and mapping software.

3. The first link that shows up in the search is:


.gov informs me that this is a governmental website. Government information is a primary source.

This map was created by the New York City Planning Department; data used to populate the map is from government open data sites and other public data sources.

Conclusion: it's a reliable source.

Online Map Repositories & Collections:

To find maps on the Internet, it's often best to use a map repository. These online map collections provide access to a wide variety of maps with global coverage that have been digitzed. The following are recommended when searching for maps on the Internet.

David Rumsey Map Collection

New York Public Library Map Warper

Old Maps Online

Perry Castaneda Library Map Collection

University of Toronto Maps & Atlases

Content last reviewed: