I working on a history of then Pacific Northwest. My goal is to display dynamic time series maps of the creation/presence/growth of various towns, their population size, railroad line tracks laid, church foundings, industries' arrival, timber logged, etc.

My data set will be simple SQLite tables with fields like:

  • Location - County or Town (obviously some relational tie to geo coordinates and boundaries)
  • Year
  • Category (population, church, RR arrival, etc.)
  • Quantity (for those categories where this applies, eg. population, or lumber produced)

I want to generate clean, simple maps with WA, OR, ID road or terrain backgrounds and whatever data set and symbols I select for any point in time.

My skills are limited. I'm not looking to be GIS specialist. I'm an advanced beginner in Python/Pandas and R. My preference is MAC but I can use Wintel-only too.

I welcome suggestions comparatively easy to adopt and use for the above modest goals FREEWARE.

2 Answers 2


QGIS is the default go-to Open Source and free GIS application.

It runs on all major desktop operating systems like Windows, Mac, Linux, BSD, along with third party companion apps for mobile operating systems.

  • Thank you. Exactly the guidance I needed.
    – DP-WA
    Jan 18, 2023 at 16:55

Since you already have some familiarity with Python you might also want to take a look at Folium which adds Python/Jupyter and add leaflet.js library for visualisations.

An example (from the site):

import folium
import pandas as pd

url = (
state_geo = f"{url}/us-states.json"
state_unemployment = f"{url}/US_Unemployment_Oct2012.csv"
state_data = pd.read_csv(state_unemployment)

m = folium.Map(location=[48, -102], zoom_start=3)

    columns=["State", "Unemployment"],
    legend_name="Unemployment Rate (%)",



Generated Map

  • 1
    Thank you. I'll give it a try.
    – DP-WA
    Jan 20, 2023 at 5:48

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