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.
Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
The TIGER data from the census bureau is available at http://www.census.gov/geo/www/tiger/
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).
A bit old but vaild.
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.
The file is large but I guess it can be trimmed per your necessity.
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.
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.