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.
About Steven Can Plan
I started this blog in 2007 as the writing assignment for an introductory urban planning class at UIC. It's about cities (mainly Chicago), GIS oftentimes, and transportation (mainly bicycling). Learn more about me, Steven Vance. I also write for Streetsblog Chicago.
Steven Can Plan is hosted on Dreamhost.
Chicago Bike Map App
The Chicago Bike Map app is a bike and street map stored entirely in your iOS device – no data connection required. The map is designed to look much like the City of Chicago's official printed and online bike map. The app works on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Highly Recommended Bike Products
Bells can be quite useful, especially to tell people in front that you're passing them. I like the ding-dong bell the best. It makes a solid DING and then DONG on the spring's return.
The best value taillight. It has three red LEDs that alternate and provide extreme brightness. I have two of these.
These folding locks are lighter weight and more versatile than an equally strong u-lock.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities (50th Anniversary Edition) (Modern Library) by Jane Jacobs
Joyride: Pedaling Toward A Healthier Planet by Mia Birk, With Joe (Metal Cowboy) Kurmaskie, Joe Kurmaskie, Jim Moore
I met Mia Birk in October 2011.
The Practice of Local Government Planning (Municipal Management Series) by
You could basically design and administer a new town kind of effectively after reading this huge and boring textbook.
Making Maps: A Visual Guide to Map Design for GIS by John Krygier PhD, Denis Wood PhD
If you are going to make a map, whether it be hand drawn or digital, you should really give this book a read. Then read it every time you make a map. It will help make sure your maps are laid out sensibly, in a way that others can easily read, and that it doesn't include fluff or unnecessary data.