Census Map Tools

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The Wall Street Journal has made a free online census mapping application available to the public.  To use the tool you have to sign in with either an existing Twitter or Facebook account.  That takes you to an additional sign up page (according to the site the initial login via Twitter or Facebook is to reduce strain on the site’s server) requiring you to pick a login name and provide an email address.

The mapping application currently loads block level data for the entire United States with Google Maps as the background data:

We’ve loaded the map maker with the latest  US Census Bureau census block shapefiles and the 2010 Census PL 94-171 redistricting population data. This data was helpfully processed for the block level by FairPlan2020. For now, we’ve only included population breakdowns by race and ethnicity.

Search for location on the right hand side or use Google’s zoom in and pan tools to locate the desire location.  Once you’re zoomed in you can start selecting Census blocks for your map and analysis. Census blocks can be selected using the spacebar.  If you pick the wrong Census block, remove the selection with the e key.  There is no way to rubberband a selection but hovering the mouse over the map after selecting either the “space” or “e” tool on the right will enable an easier way to select or unselect multiple blocks.  A pie chart shows a running breakdown of the different racial groups and an overall population count.

Maps can be shared by copying the URL from the browser address bar and emailed to others to view.  According to the instructions, completed maps can be exported to a KML file.  Unfortunately, my attempt resulted in an internal server error.  Per an update from Alber Sun at the Wall Street Journal, the export KML function is working now.  Maps created by others can be browsed from Census Map Maker’s home page.

The application has the potential to be a useful mapping and educational tool for the classroom.  It could also be used as a quick exporter tool for basic U.S. Census demographic data.

Visit: Census MapMaker – Wall Street Journal

Census Map Maker from the Wall Street Journal
Census Map Maker from the Wall Street Journal

Explore 30 Years of Census Data

Data from the last three censuses has been mapped out by the Washington Post.  Plurality, population change, overall population, density, and family type are available for viewing for 1990, 2000, and 2010.  Some data from 1990 is only viewable at the county and state level.

On a broader scale, data can be viewed by state or by county.  Type in your city or ZIP code to access block group level statistics.  Toggling between years or data type is done easily by clicking on the different menu options.  Hover over individual areas for a popup window with statistics.

Visit: Interactive map: 30 years of census data


Also, scroll down towards the bottom of the page for some in-depth census analysis focusing on the Washington D.C. area and suburbs of the United States.

US Census Mapping

(Via @carmenology)

Further GIS and the US Census Resources

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2 thoughts on “Census Map Tools”

  1. Thanks for pointing out that bug in the export KML function. A few people I’ve pointed that out and I’ve finally tracked it down and I’ve fixed it now.

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