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Yahoo loves New York

Yahoo adds New York City to its growing list of city guides, another step in its bid to stand out in the cutthroat search engine market.

    Yahoo added the Big Apple to its growing list of city guides this weekend, another step in its bid to stand out in the cutthroat search engine market.

    The guide, which Yahoo quietly launched this weekend suggests alternatives to the typical tourist traps. Visitors can also browse for jobs, read local news, and find a place to live in its classified listings, perhaps posing some competition to dailies such as the New York Times.

    Among the offerings in the new site, which is expected to draw more hits than other Yahoo city services, are "Playbill," an online listing of Broadway plays; the Manhattan yellow pages; "Manhattan Life," which includes a look at the SoHo district; and a rundown on local news, weather, and sports.

    Mom-and-pop shops can advertise via city guides, avoiding outrageous fees on popular sites.

    Austin, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Chicago will be the next featured cities and will launch in a few months, according to Yahoo executives.

    San Francisco was the first city to launch, followed by Los Angeles, Canada, and Japan.

    Some analysts say that city guides like Yahoo and the Digital City project by America Online and Tribune will survive the so-called shake out on the Internet that is expected to occur next year, partly because they are building a strong brand name on the Net.

    Digital City features Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. City Search features New York City, Pasadena, California, and Raleigh, North Carolina. Ten new sites including San Francisco and Alaska will launch in a few months.

    But competition in local content sites is stiff. Companies such as CitySearch are already operating such sites, and Microsoft is expected to roll out a similar service called Cityscape by the end of the year.

    In addition, daily newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and Boston Globe are building strong regional Web sites.

    Yahoo has another arrow in its quiver, too. The company quietly is beefing up its search-engine capabilities. It now is being powered by the popular search engine Alta Vista. Users automatically will be offered Alta Vista results if Yahoo search results come up empty. Users also can choose between the two in the event that both Yahoo and Alta Vista produce results.