Grabs shapefiles from the US Census and converts them to .kml format
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GovHub's Census Shape Converter

The Census Shape Converter, (or CSC, for lack of a better name,) helps decipher the vast U.S. government repository of map shapes from the 2010 census into .kml files, a more universal format.

Currently, CSC does these things:

  1. Grabs an archive from the U.S. Census FTP archive.
  2. Converts your choice of States, Counties, or Localities to .kml format
  3. Separates the different maps into a coherent file structure.
  4. (Optionally) reduces the size of the .kml file using the Douglas-Peuker algorithm.


CSC is designed to be run from the command-line, so there's no trickery to installing it.

You will have to install its one dependency, the GDAL/OGR Binaries, which are used for conversion to .kml. Follow the instructions in the GDAL Readme to add ogr2ogr to your ~/.bash-profile.

After that, just run php convert.php in the command-line, and the script will guide you through the rest.


  • Support other regions, e.g. school districts, zip codes, etc.