The new feature comes thanks to Google Summer of Code and Pawel Niechoda, the student who spent the last few months plugging away for OpenStreetMaps.
To create a static image, like the one of Graceland above, you simply pass the center of the map, zoom level, and dimensions to OpenStreetMap.
Static APIs have become more popular lately. Google upgraded its static API and MapQuest released its first take. One reason for the popularity could be how maps are being used. On many sites, developers simply point out a single location, using an interactive map in a non-interactive manner. This is more resource intensive for the mapping provider, as well as slower for the user to load. Static maps create a simple way to solve this issue.