Healthy Communities Institute

What is a Census Place?

Census Places are geographies defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, which include both Incorporated Places and Census Designated Places (CDPs). These areas may change over time as population and/or commercial activities increase or decrease, and they may be thought of as:

  • municipalities, cities, towns, villages, boroughs
  • town/townships
  • communities
  • neighborhoods
  • populated places
  • areas associated with a specific name

Incorporated Places are legally bounded entities established by the government in each state and requirements for such designation vary by state. The most common types of incorporated places are cities, towns, villages, and boroughs, with exceptions by state. 

Census Designated Places are statistical entities that represent and are geographically defined in order to provide data for areas with settled population centers and may include urban areas and/or commercial or industrial types of land use. These areas usually have identifying names but are not legally incorporated under the states in which they reside. CDPs are defined before each decennial census by states, local agencies, and tribal officials and are then reviewed and approved by the Census Bureau. CDPs allow for collection of data for areas and populations that otherwise would not have an identity within the Census Bureau's geographic framework.

There are exceptions for Incorporated Places and CDPs that vary by area and state. Additionally, not all places or communities appear in Census Bureau products. The details of both topics may be examined using the resources linked below.

For more information and further details, please refer to the following resources:

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