11 Jan 2005
Shanghai is big and its streets are confusing, so finding an exact location can be quite an ordeal. I recently found a great new resource to help deal with that problem.
You may know of Wang Jianshuo’s online Shanghai map. I have found it quite useful in the past. Its special feature is the ability to mark any location on the map, which creates a unique URL you can send to someone so they can view the exact location. Other than that, it’s not very different from a paper map (and the map itself is Chinese only).
Now there’s something even more useful. Shanghai has its own site devoted to transportation, and has developed an interactive map. It’s zoomable, draggable (like a PDF), and when you scroll, the street names move too so that the streets you are viewing are always labeled. The coolest feature is that you can actually input full addresses (street name, number) and see them pinpointed on the map! I have used it several times and found the location indicated to be exactly right every time. Extremely handy.
Now for the drawbacks. First, it was designed for IE, so Firefox doesn’t work. You also have to install a small plugin. If you use English Windows XP, you have to have Chinese enabled for non-Unicode applications or you won’t be able to read the addresses. (Just because you can view normal Chinese websites on your English system doesn’t mean you can view this. You have to configure it for Chinese.) Lastly, the zoom can be a little tricky.
Still, if you read Chinese and you frequently need to locate specific addresses in Shanghai, this map is awesome.