MapArt is a four-volume collection of files designed for use with Macintosh and PC drawing programs. Getting copyright permission to scan maps and use them on your Web server can be extremely difficult (AAA simply refuses all such requests in my experience). If you only take a small portion of a map and are using it on a non-profit server, you might have a good "fair use" argument, but a clip art collection such as MapArt will let you sleep better at night.
MapArt maps are available on floppy or CD-ROM in Adobe Illustrator 1.1 format, which is readable by most other drawing programs as well. Elements that are thematically related are organized into groups so that changing line weights, fonts, etc. in a consistent fashion is easy.
Metro Areas (25 in the US) include parks, airports, and universities. State maps have cities, Interstates and state highways, counties, rivers, and zip codes. Country maps show major cities and borders, sometimes internal borders (e.g., states and provinces in North America). Global perspective maps are available in 40 projections including some I'd never seen before.
The maps are clearly professional-grade, although I wish that the U.S. state maps had more features such as national parks marked. Users hoping for topographic features, e.g., mountain ranges will also be disappointed.
MacWarehouse sells the World and U.S. packages for $129 each or $195 bundled together. The maps are also available direct from Cartesia Software at (800) 334-4291 and come with a 90-day satisfaction guarantee. (Cartesia, 80 Lambert Lane, Suite 100, PO Box 757, Lambertville, NJ 08530, (609) 397-1611.)
Philip's sample map is quite slick. For interesting tools to make maps in Illustrator, check out software from avenza.com. They provide a certain amount of sample data, and their add-ons allow AI to import standard USGS public domain data (but it still takes some fussing to symbolize it they way you might like). Avenza has some mapping discussion lists you can join as well.
An alternative to buying map data is to get maps on demand from places like mapquest.com. If you want small-scale and/or non-US maps and don't need a lot of local detail, a great server site is http://www.aquarius.geomar.de/omc/make_map.html. They have a CGI interface to the open source GMT (generic mapping tools) mapping system (for Unix) which will serve maps in PS or AI format that can have a number of optional geological cultural and other themes added to them, and provide a limited choice of projections. I've used them generate map animations on my end, but their server is not very swift and these files can be fairly big (500K-1 MB+). They do provide a choice of detail levels that seems to work for some themes only.
There are quite a lot of sites that serve free map data now, and if you contact me I can give you more info. My new web site will have these links, so stay tuned... -Geoff
-- Geoffrey Dutton, April 28, 1999