Google Maps nowadays shows "areas of interest" in pale orange. (Source.) As far as I can tell, "areas of interest" are basically just high-density commercial districts.

I think it makes sense to show commercial zones in their own color. It's definitely more interesting to walk through a busy area such as Times Square than through a quiet residential street on Staten Island. In fact, even low-density commercial areas are probably more interesting to walk through than residential areas.

You might say, "well, just walk along arterial roads". But this doesn't always help. In my city, large parts of many arterial roads are zoned for residential use (e.g. mid-rise apartments and condos) rather than for commercial or mixed use.

Google Maps does color-coding of "areas of interest" reasonably well. It's true that pale orange is a little bit hard to see at low zoom levels on a low-resolution cellphone; but this is just a minor quibble. Still, I wonder who else shows these areas; maybe one of Google's competitors does a bit better at showing where these districts can be found.

My question

Is there any map website, other than Google Maps, which can use color-coding to show me where commercial areas are?

The website must be free for personal use, since I don't want to pay money to use it.


On second thought, the official Toronto zoning map is definitely a fine option. (The middle of another post explains how to read the map.) I think I like the fact that it shows all commercial zones: even low-density ones like the ones on Marlee Avenue. Of course, it only covers Toronto, Canada; but it still meets my needs fine.

closed as too broad by whyzar, PolyGeo Jul 14 '17 at 12:12

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • If your focus is on the color-coding rather than alternative services, creating your own theme/style can be an option? https://mapstyle.withgoogle.com/ – Kazuhito Jul 14 '17 at 10:39
  • I'm not sure what my focus is. I want to see what's out there. ❧ About the Google styling wizard: Intriguing! I clicked "more options", but don't see a way to recolor "areas of interest". Can I? – unforgettableid Jul 14 '17 at 10:53
  • Now I see your point. Please ignore the comment above. – Kazuhito Jul 14 '17 at 11:11

Take a look at OpenStreetMap (OSM). One of the main benefits of OSM is that it is open source: you can easily download the underlying data.

OSM also provides a legend.

  • +0. A good idea in theory, but not in practice. Let me explain: – unforgettableid Jul 14 '17 at 11:54
  • I looked at OSM's map of Toronto. OSM does a very good job of showing the streets and landmarks here, but doesn't (yet) do a reasonable job of showing the zoning. (It does okay in some areas, such as the financial district, but not elsewhere.) ❧ According to the legend, retail/commercial areas should be pink. But, in reality, most of the commercial zones in my city are shown in gray, just like the residential zones. – unforgettableid Jul 14 '17 at 12:02
  • Why might this be? Well, OSM is made by volunteers. In my city, they're probably not that interested in adding zoning data to the map. ❧ One possible solution would be for OSM to programmatically draw zoning data from elsewhere. But I don't know whether or not zoning data is available with an OSM-compatible license. And, anyway, doing anything programmatically can require a fair bit of volunteer labor from some interested computer programmers. ❧ I suspect that Google Maps doesn't have any zoning data, and that it just looks at density of points of interest. ❧ Maybe OSM should do the same. – unforgettableid Jul 14 '17 at 12:02
  • OSM is a viable option in most big cities, I have used OSM zoning data as a reference myself, the best part about OSM is that the data is free to download and use, being open source. You can use this dataset as the starting point and enhance the zoning yourself, using multiple sources. – Hasan Mustafa Jul 18 '17 at 5:36

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