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Launched just a few weeks ago, mapdetroit.com is a new, interactive site that allows users to participate in a virtual map of Detroit’s downtown. Log on, and you’ll be presented with a map of downtown Detroit — by clicking on the map, you can zoom in on specific locations, or you can search by different categories.

Click on “Buildings/ Landmarks” and you’ll be able to pinpoint the location of structures like the GAR Building (the giant castle near Grand River and Cass avenues) or general areas, like Grand Circus Park. After the site zooms in to highlight your selection in red, it provides some tidbits of historical information, and, occasionally, a photo. It’s particularly useful if you’ve ever wandered down a downtown street and wondered what that staggering abandoned hotel or office building was once called. In addition to landmarks, you can select restaurants and bars, residential areas, retail shops, parking, public transportation (while it lasts), banks, and a whole slew of other business and civic buildings. Metro Times is tickled that we were included on the map — aw, shucks! And if you think they missed something important, the site encourages you to submit photos, information and Web links.

It moves a little slowly, which is to be expected for v. 1.0. But if you’re patient, the site can be extremely useful for plotting an adventure downtown — in just a couple of clicks you can find a place for parking, an ATM and a place to chow. Plus, it’s just plain fun to play around with.

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