this question says they do but when i compare what i can find in the cartographic boundary files section of the census bureau's gis page, they don't look as good as certain shapefiles provided by the city government. am i missing something? or do i have to scrounge through each city's website to get this level of detail (assuming it's there at all)

comparison photos of new york city and reproducible R code below.

enter image description here

enter image description here


tf <- tempfile() ; td <- tempdir()

# from http://www.census.gov/geo/maps-data/data/cbf/cbf_cousub.html

download.file( "http://www2.census.gov/geo/tiger/GENZ2013/cb_2013_36_cousub_500k.zip" , tf )
z <- unzip( tf , exdir = td )
ny.shp <- readShapePoly( z[ grep( 'shp$' , z ) ] )
nyc.shp <- subset( ny.shp , as.numeric( as.character( COUNTYFP ) ) %in% c( 5 , 47 , 61 , 81 , 85 ) )
# shows some water.
plot( nyc.shp )

# from http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/html/bytes/districts_download_metadata.shtml

download.file( "http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/download/bytes/nybb_14c.zip" , tf )
z <- unzip( tf , exdir = td )
nyc.shp <- readShapePoly( z[ grep( 'shp$' , z ) ] )
# very awesome.  does not show water.
plot( nyc.shp )
  • You could download the census data, and then clip it by a highly detailed USA polygon, that should yield suitable results
    – Maksim
    Oct 16, 2014 at 14:45
  • @Maksim but where is the highly detailed usa polygon? i had thought my census.gov link above was a highly detailed polygon, but comparing the two images.. it's not. Oct 16, 2014 at 14:58
  • Not too sure about that, I have StreetMap Premium, I'm sure a Google search will help
    – Maksim
    Oct 16, 2014 at 15:04
  • Natural Earth might be one source, or OpenStreetMap
    – neuhausr
    Oct 16, 2014 at 15:36
  • @neuhausr i think the answer to my question might be "no." :( natural earth provides lots of layers but the census bureau provides the same. i was hoping for an integrated file that just showed every place in the nation, finely blanking out the water Oct 19, 2014 at 12:16


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