16

Where can I find a shapefile that contains boundaries for the major cities in the United States?

I have tried the census website but could not find anything.

8

The TIGER data from the census bureau is available at http://www.census.gov/geo/www/tiger/

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • 3
    For the most part, you can get incorporated cities with the Places layer (but beware the Census Designated Place! Take a deep breath and dive into Census definitions here: census.gov/geo/www/2010census/gtc_10.html). The County Subdivision layer may also be helpful. – neuhausr May 27 '11 at 14:15
4

A bit old but vaild.

http://www.census.gov/geo/cob/bdy/cc/cc00shp/cc99_d00_shp.zip

http://www.census.gov/geo/www/cob/cc2000.html

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

3

You don't say if you are using esri or not.
ESRI Products come with a "data and maps" dvd.
It is not in shp but can be selected and converted to shape using arcmap.
I installed mine on a network drive in the mapdata folder. The rest of the path is like this.
G:\MapData\ESRI_Data\streetmap_na\data\citylim.sdc

3

Check the TIGER/Line files. You want to look for "Place" layers for each state, which you can fine under national based shapefiles by selecting each state. Or, for the 2012 version, you can grab all the states from this page.

2

Getting the Data

You can acquire US Census Place Data, which includes cities, here.

For instance, Rhode Island's 2017 Place Data is available here.

For ease of bulk downloading, the full list 2017 place data is:

https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_01_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_02_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_04_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_05_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_06_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_08_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_09_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_10_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_11_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_12_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_13_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_15_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_16_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_17_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_18_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_19_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_20_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_21_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_22_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_23_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_24_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_25_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_26_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_27_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_28_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_29_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_30_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_31_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_32_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_33_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_34_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_35_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_36_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_37_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_38_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_39_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_40_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_41_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_42_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_44_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_45_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_46_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_47_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_48_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_49_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_50_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_51_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_53_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_54_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_55_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_56_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_60_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_66_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_69_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_72_place.zip
https://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/TIGER2017/PLACE/tl_2017_78_place.zip

Interpreting the Data

The technical documentation for the 2017 US Census Data is available here. I found it by searching for "namelsad classfp" on Google (unusual field names from the shapefiles acquired previously).

Search the file for "_place" (with the underscore) to find the meanings of the fields in the shapefiles acquired previously. These are:

Field    Length   Type     Description
STATEFP       2   String   Current state FIPS code
PLACEFP       5   String   Current place FIPS code
PLACENS       8   String   Current place GNIS code
GEOID         7   String   Place identifier; a concatenation of the current state FIPS code and place FIPS code
NAME        100   String   Current place name
NAMELSAD    100   String   Current name and the translated legal/statistical area description for place
LSAD          2   String   Current legal/statistical area description code for place
CLASSFP       2   String   Current FIPS class code
PCICBSA       1   String   Current metropolitan or micropolitan statistical area principal city indicator
PCINECTA      1   String   Current New England city and town area principal city indicator
MTFCC         5   String   G4110 (incorporated place) and G4210 (census designated place)
FUNCSTAT      1   String   Current functional status
ALAND        14   Number   Current land area
AWATER       14   Number   Current water area
INTPTLAT     11   String   Current latitude of the internal point
INTPTLON     12   String   Current longitude of the internal poin

You'll then want to know the values of the CLASSFP column. These are available here. Some of the relevant ones are:

C1 An incorporated place that is governmentally active, is not related to an
Alaska Native village statistical area (ANVSA), and does not serve as a
minor civil division (MCD) equivalent.

C2 Incorporated place that also serves as a minor civil division (MCD)
equivalent because, although the place is coextensive with an MCD, the U.S.
Census Bureau, in agreement with state officials, does not recognize that
MCD for presenting census data because the MCD cannot provide governmental
services (applies to Iowa and Ohio only).

C3 Incorporated place that is a consolidated city.

C5 Incorporated place that also serves as a minor civil division (MCD)
equivalent because it is not part of any MCD or a county subdivision
classified as Z5.

C6 Incorporated place that coincides with or approximates an Alaska Native
village statistical area (ANVSA).

C7 An incorporated place that is an independent city; that is, it also
serves as a county equivalent because it is not part of any county and a
minor civil division (MCD) equivalent because it is not part of any MCD.

C8 The portion ("balance") of a consolidated city that excludes the
separately incorporated place(s) within that jurisdiction.

C9 An incorporated place whose government is operationally inactive and is
not included in any other C subclass.

U1 Census designated place (CDP) with a name that is commonly recognized for
the populated area, and designated as a populated place by the U.S.
Geological Survey.

U2 Census designated place (CDP) with a name that is not commonly recognized
for the populated area (e.g., a combination of the names of two or three
commonly recognized communities, or a name that identifies the location of
the CDP in relation to an adjacent incorporated place).

U9 A census designated place (CDP) that coincides with, or approximates, an
Alaska Native Village Statistical Area (ANVSA).
0

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/geodata/catalog/national/html/cities.htm

The file is large but I guess it can be trimmed per your necessity.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • This looks like it's just one point per city, not city boundaries? – Jeff Kaufman Sep 3 '16 at 10:34
  • large? it's 2MB. which file are you talking about? – Travis Webb Sep 26 '16 at 17:51
0

I suppose you could infer the major cities by size and/or population. In such case, you can use this pre-joined geodatabase which has the 2010 city boundaries along with area AND basic population estimates.

0

koordinates.com is a free place to find a variety of city boundary shapefiles. You can even pick the coordinate system. Here is a link to Texas cities.

Do some searching around for other cities. They have a lot on this web site. You do need to create a login.

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