I have four shapefiles with different original projections that I am trying to bring into ArcMap 10.2. How do I set these four shapefiles to a single projection that will display the layers correctly? Any help would be appreciative.

Layer         Current Coordinate Ref Sys   Lines Up
Street        NAD83 UTM 16                 YES
Major Roads   NAD83 UTM 16                 YES
County        NAD83                        YES (probably)
Railroads     ??                           
  • Is it possible that some of those layers don't have projections defined? Just because it is assigned by you doesn't mean the coordinates aren't different. What were the original projections? – Branco Jun 25 '14 at 14:59
  • Did you use the Define projection or Project tool for setting or re-projecting the data? – artwork21 Jun 25 '14 at 15:00
  • I will try that. I have my dataframe and my three shapefiles set to "NAD 1983 UTM Zone 16". The streets and major roads shapefiles are aligning ontop of one another but the county shapefile is visible somewhere else in the dataframe. All three are in the same coordinate system. – Jordan Jun 25 '14 at 15:08
  • Ok I found out the original projections. The County is "NAD 1983", the Streets and Major Roads is "NAD 1983 Zone 16", and a Railroad shapefile I have is undefined. – Jordan Jun 25 '14 at 15:17
  • Almost certainly a duplicate. If you haven't yet, use the Define Projection tool to change the county's CRS to NAD83. Leave railroads undefined and add to the map. Change the data frame's (map's) CRS to NAD83. Does it line up? Then that's the CRS that it's using. Otherwise, try other CRS. – mkennedy Jun 25 '14 at 16:00

Two common cases:

  • If you created the shapefile you will have to use the Define Projection tool to define the projection/coordinate system.

  • If you downloaded the shapefile:

    1. Shapefile has spatial reference (nothing technically you have to do here, should load and re-project on the fly in ArcMap)
    2. Shapefile is projected, but no set spatial reference (look for metadata and use the Define projection tool)

Once the spatial reference is set you can use the Project tool to re-project.

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