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Citysearch

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While the streets aren’t paved with gold, those who take a stroll on Sidewalk, Microsoft’s hugely hyped city-guide website, can find a wealth of neatly configured arts-and-entertainment info for cities from Seattle to Boston. But Sidewalk — to which Microsoft reportedly has committed $500 million — is just one contender in the costly battle shaping up among cyber-Baedekers. The sites are proliferating, capitalizing on the Web’s dexterity with databases and drawing revenue from such advertisers as Citibank, Barnes & Noble, and the Gap. Indeed, they may even break the Web’s money-losing jinx; analysts predict the sites will siphon off a small fraction of the $67 billion-plus spent on advertising in local print publications. Here’s a user’s guide to the more bustling urban URLs:

CITYSEARCH (http://www.city search.com) Eight metropolises plus Australia. Best for: Those who enjoy first-person musings about events. Worst for: Long-timers who want depth. Standouts: You get a bookmarkable custom page with individualized updates; newsletter mailing lists; highly detailed maps. Drawbacks: Search results are patchy; misses some admission prices. Wild card: The love-it-or-hate-it hipster tone. B+

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