2009 TIGER Shapefiles Released

October 2nd, 2009 by mike.mahaffie
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The US Census Bureau has released the 2009 version of TIGER in shapefile format. The data are available by county and by state. (The Delaware files are found here)  This is said to be the last release of TIGER data before the 2010 Census and appears to include some of the geographic updates for 2010. The next release, in 2011, will include all of the geographic updates for the 2010 Census and will be followed by the tabular data from the Census itself.

The data sets released this week are shapefile versions of the Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing files — the electronic mapping line-files fondly known as “TIGER” that played an important role in the development of GIS and the geospatial industry.

The release includes, among many other data sets:

  • Census Blocks (current and from Census 2000)
  • Block Groups (2000)
  • Tracts (2000)
  • Places (current and 2000)
  • County Subdivisions (current and 2000)
  • Statistical Areas
  • School Districts (current and 2000)

Those data sets for which there is a “current” version have been updated from Census 2000 data. The Census geography files (blocks, for example) should reflect changes in the block boundaries. The local geography files (places and school districts) should include changes in our local boundaries. All of the files will likely have some accuracy updates.

I have not checked all of these data yet, but it is likely the case that the Census Bureau’s update has not yet caught up to our own basemap version of “current.” Improvement work continues though, so they will catch up.

One of the user notes on the Census Bureau site that suggests that Windows XP users may have some trouble extracting files from the ZIP files in which they are delivered.  I have experienced this and overcame it by using the open-source utility 7ZIp instead of the built-in zipping utility in Windows.

I will also point out that when opening the Census Bureau’s ZIP files you will likely find that the zip includes several layers of folders; those that I downloaded were several sub directories down from a top-level directory which did not have a name.  So, on opening the ZIP file I was presented with a blank file name. Once I double-clicked on that I was able to navigate down to the files themselves.

The TIGER files are in there. It may not look like they are there, but they are. They are there. Enjoy.

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