The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is the Legacy of Gene & Marilyn Glick. The Cultural trail is a world-class urban bike and pedestrian path that connects neighborhoods, Cultural Districts and entertainment amenities, and serves as the downtown hub for the entire central Indiana greenway system. It's a fantastic project that is beginning to take root here locally.
In speaking with Pat Coyle, I thought it would be cool to actually map the Cultural Trail and put it on a Google Map so folks could interact through Google Earth (You can download it for free) or view it on a Web Site.
Building a path for a Google Map could have been intimidating, but with Google Earth it's pretty easy. You can use the Path tool to create a path. Click the path tool and click where your path begins and ends. A line will be drawn. Each click after will produce a mid-point. It can be kind of tricky (ctrl-click deletes a point), but you can quickly produce a path on a map. If you right-click on your layer in the sidebar, you can add descriptions, change the look and feel of your layer, and even set the altitude.
With Google Earth, you can also tilt the landscape and turn a ton of other layers on and off. The top-right set of tools allows you to zoom, tilt, change your view, rotate, and change altitude. The usability of the application is very intuitive!
In December, Google Maps added KML support to their API, so you can easily output your layers as a KML file and point to it with a Google Map.
As well, you can document and upload your layers for folks to discover them. I haven't done that yet, but I will be soon! The first part of this project was to create the path. One neat trick – I opened an image of the Cultural Trail and imported it into Google Earth. I set it to about 30 percent transparency and used it as a gauge to map the trail quicker.
The next part of this project will be building an interactive map with mouseovers on points and popups of images. Cool stuff!