I'm doing a research project that involves using demographic data collected from both the national Census and the American Community Surveys.

I am interested in about 40 zip codes within NYC.

The tool I was using to query Census and ACS only can pull up the most recent year, but I need to go a few years back.

What tool should I be using?

ACM data

For example, I'm looking for the estimated population between ages 35 to 44 in each of 40 zip codes in 2013 as well as 2011.

2 Answers 2


You may want to look in the NHGIS Data Finder that provide:

The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) provides, free of charge, aggregate census data and GIS-compatible boundary files for the United States between 1790 and 2015.

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Alternatively, I would suggest using the "Maps" tab in the Select Geographies within the Advanced search for American FactFinder(AFF). There are other ways to tackle this search, but this is the one I recommend.

Go to the select geographies category and select the map tab

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Then go and enter the location and select the layer of interest, then specify geography

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Then add to your selection for the table to display those specific zip codes, it sends those selections in the upper right box and highlights them on the map as well.

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Next you can click on the topics category, choose the table of interest. Currently for those year you have a finite number of tables that correspond to the geography selection plus the years available. The best option may be the 5-year American Community Survey(ACS).

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Also, here is where you can select the long form data for the same geography, go to the topics category then dataset and look for 2010 SF 1 Or SF 2

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  • Thank you for the very very detailed answer. Do you know if it's possible to download the data in long form?
    – wizlog
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 18:44
  • Yes, you can go to the topics > dataset and search for 2010 SF 1 OR SF 2. I updated my response with a screen shot.
    – whyzar
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 19:08

As long as you're just looking to go back to 2011, you can simply click within the box in the top left of the image you shared that reads VERSIONS OF THIS TABLE ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE FOLLOWING YEARS to view tables for each year between 2014 and 2011 (in this case).

A non-GIS aside on Census data here is that when using American Community Survey data you can choose between estimates representing 1 year (e.g. 2014) or 5 years (e.g. 2010-2014). 1 year data is only available for geographies with 65K people or more so it looks like you'll NEED to use 5 year estimates for these particular Zip Code Tabulation Areas.

(note: these are not exactly zip codes but the Census Bureau's attempt at representing zip codes with population data, if that matters to you. More here: https://www.census.gov/geo/reference/zctas.html)

Since you need to work with 5 year estimates, know that a 5 year estimate of 2010-2014 and and 5 year estimate of 2009-2013 will share 4 years of EXACTLY the same data (2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013). This means if you want to gauge change over time, you would ideally use two non-overlapping (e.g. 2005-2009 vs 2010-2014) 5 year estimates but since you don't have that with this table I would select 2014 to get the 2009-2014 estimates and select 2011 to grab the 2007-2011 estimates from the VERSIONS OF THIS TABLE ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE FOLLOWING YEARS box and just be mindful of the caveat that you're two data "points" rely on some overlapping responses to the survey.

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