I wanted to create a map of the 35th Ward boundaries using Google My Maps for a story on Grid Chicago. I planned to create this by taking the Chicago Wards boundary shapefile and exporting just the 35th Ward using QGIS into a KML file. I ran into many problems and ended up using Google Fusion Tables as the final solution.
First, QGIS creates invalid KML files. Google Earth will tell you this. I opened the KML file in a text editor and removed the offending parts (Google Earth mildly tells you what these are; you can use this validator to get more information).
Second, Google My Maps would not import the KML file. I tried a different browser and a different KML file; a friend ran into the same issue. I reported this problem to Google.
I uploaded to Google Fusion Tables a KML file containing all wards. I did this instead of uploading the single Ward because, like a database, I can filter values in the column, selecting only the row I want with “ward=35″.
After applying the filter, the map will show the boundary for just that ward. I grab the HTML code for an embeddable map and voila, the article now displays an interactive map of the 35th Ward.
Whenever I want to create a map for a different ward, I go back to this Fusion Table, make a new filter and copy the new HTML code.
A screenshot of the embedded map, showing just 1 of 50 wards, in the Grid Chicago article.
I had the same problems with QGIS exporting and uploading the KML files to My Maps the other day when I was creating maps for the abandoned railroads for Monday’s Grid Chicago article. Not thinking about Fusion Tables, I drew on the map with my mouse the lines.
Screenshot of the map of abandoned railroads.