Wouldn't it be nice if Apple hired this guy?
By contrast, David Imus worked alone on his map seven days a week for two full years. Nearly 6,000 hours in total. It would be prohibitively expensive just to outsource that much work. But Imus-a 35-year veteran of cartography who's designed every kind of map for every kind of client-did it all by himself. He used a computer (not a pencil and paper), but absolutely nothing was left to computer-assisted happenstance. Imus spent eons tweaking label positions. Slaving over font types, kerning, letter thicknesses. Scrutinizing levels of blackness. It's the kind of personal cartographic touch you might only find these days on the hand-illustrated ski-trail maps available at posh mountain resorts.
Then there's the Lovely watercolor maps based off OpenStreetMaps:
Well, now, this is gorgeous. Stamen Design overlaid watercolor textures on OpenStreetMap map tiles to show you what it would look like if your favorite watercolorist designed Google Maps.
This is a zoomable, dragable version of the Viele Map of Manhattan, a map drawn in 1865 of the original boundaries and waterways of Manhattan. It is still in use today by developers, civil engineers, and architects.