Early Google Maps Hack Retired

The end of an era. Adrian Holovaty’s chicagocrime.org, one of the original Google Maps hacks that predated the release of the official API and that was frequently held up in the media as practically the archetype of the mapping hack, is being retired.

It’s been a fun ride. When I launched the site, Google Maps hadn’t yet released the mapping API that’s so common — even passé? — today. I can’t help but feel like an old-timer: “Back in my day, we had to reverse-engineer Google’s obfuscated JavaScript just to get maps embedded on our own sites!” Now it seems like every other Web site finds an excuse to use those familiar, bubbly, yellow-white-blue-pastel map tiles.
Chicagocrime.org wasn’t the first Google Maps mashup. That honor belongs to Paul Rademacher’s HousingMaps, which, at that time, was modestly titled “Craigslist + Google Maps.” The straightforwardness of that original title illustrates the excitement of it all: just the mere fact that somebody had mixed Craigslist data with Google’s maps was new and remarkable. Kudos to Paul for keeping the site up and running for all these years. Not only was it a groundbreaking technical achievement; it remains genuinely useful.

A new project of Adrian’s, EveryBlock, supercedes chicagocrime.org (“more than just crime, and more than just Chicago”) — which will now, if you can believe it, become a museum piece. Literally. Via Webmapper.