Bottom Line: Here’s a simple way to plot some of the US Census data.

I’ve been wanting to learn how to do some simple geo data plotting in Python for a while, so I finally sat down and figured out the first few steps.

A lot of the US Census data is freely available to download from, so finding and downloading it was easy. The part that actually tripped me up the most was figuring out how to load the data into GeoPandas. I first tried loading the file with the built-in read_file() method, which didn’t work. I tried extracting the data from the zipfile a bunch of different ways and loading the shapefiles using Fiona and nothing seemed to work… until I found a blog post where someone was prefixing their filename with zip:// before reading into GeoPandas. Sure enough that worked like a charm.

Anyway, you can view my Jupyter notebook to see how it came out.