Talk:Census-designated place

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Moved CDP Policy Proposal to Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Cities.

I removed A third instance occurs when a city's boundaries place it in more than one county. I do not think CDPs are used for incorporated cities where the boundaries span counties. There may be separate entries for the portion of the municipality in each county along with an entry for the entire municipality, but the portions are not identified as CDPs. There may be a CDP with the same name as a nearby municipality, but which is outside of the municipal boundaries. olderwiser 13:49, Dec 5, 2004 (UTC)

CDP as annexed area[edit]

LouI added or be annexed by a neighboring town as an example of a formerly incorporated place being a CDP. I'm not so sure that instance is applicable. I'm sure annexation procedures vary considerably from state to state, but I was generally under the impression that only incorporated entities like cities could "annex" land. If the annexing entity is incorporated, then the annexed land will not be a CDP (as CDPs are not defined within incorporated places). olderwiser 13:20, Dec 7, 2004 (UTC)

...except in Massachusetts. AJD 13:54, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The exception for Massachusetts and other New England Towns is explained elsewhere in the article. A question: in the case of MA, where the entire state is part of an incorporated municipality, how would disincorporation and annexation work there? If a city disincorporated (unlikely as it seems), what would happen to its land. And are Towns in MA able to annex land in the same way as cities? olderwiser 14:05, Dec 7, 2004 (UTC)
You wouldn't get one with out the other: that is, in Mass., as far as I know, a town can only disincorporate if its land is to be annexed onto a neighboring city or town. I see no reason for the same thing not to be true of cities. And yes, towns can annex land: the most recent example I know of is the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir, when a few towns in the Swift River valley (Dana, Enfield, Prescott, Greenwich) were disincorporated, razed, and flooded. What remained of their land was annexed to New Salem and a couple other adjacent towns—even though those areas, I believe, remain uninhabited. So if you compare a town map from the 1920s to a present-day one, you see that the town of New Salem covers much more area than it did. AJD 15:52, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)
But wait, it's both more and less complicated than that. In Massachusetts, only the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth can alter municipal boundaries, and they can do so at whim. So it is theoretically possible to create a gore, for example, and such places have existed in the past. (Still do in Vermont and New Hampshire.) However, the state no longer has any administrative mechanism for dealing with unincorporated localities, and so you are correct as to the effect in that the legislature would not intentionally create such a place today, preferring to assign such territory to an adjoining town. 04:56, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
But getting back to the subject, what is notable with respect to the CDPs in Massachusetts is the fact that they mostly aren't used for annexed areas. Consider, for example, the towns annexed by the City of Boston over the years: Charlestown, Dorchester, Roxbury, West Roxbury, and Brighton. None of these are CDPs, although there are some CDPs contained within some of them. There are no census units corresponding to either the original towns or the current city-recognized "neighborhoods", AFAICT. 05:11, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)
The first statement by Bkonrad (older/wiser) is essentially correct. I spent this morning doing research and will attempt to correct the Covedale article soon. The difficulty is that when Cincinnati annexed Covedale (in the 1890s), the village disincorporated. A fragament reverted to the townships that the area came from. These remaining fragments are what the census now reports as Covedale CDP. As soon as I can figure one how to word it, I'll adjust this article as well. Wish I had clearer answers, but the whole subject remains confusing, doesn't it? Lou I 14:10, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

CDP is strictly a bureaucratic concept[edit]

Which exists only in the mind of the Census Bureau. It often has nothing to do with what is actually on the ground, i. e. a real community. Perhaps when writing articles on any "CDPs" you might want to distinguish between the two concepts. I live in one of these CDPs, only we call it a town, and it has been a town to its residents since it began, long before the Census Bureau created the concept of a CDP. This needs to be addressed. Think about it. Glacierman 06:42, 22 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's not entirely true. Yes, CDPs are statistical abstractions. The Census Bureau defines CDPs in cooperation with local officials to provide statistical data for populated places that are not incorporated municipalities (or other legally defined administrative divisions of the state or county). However, despite the input of local officials, the Census Bureau definition of a CDP may not always precisely correspond with local understanding of the area with the same name. When referring to the statistical data, I think it is important to identify that the statistics are that of the CDP. When describing aspects of the town other than the statistics, there's certainly no problem with using the term town (or whatever other locally appropriate appellation there may be, e.g., hamlet, village, community, neighborhood). See similar discussion at Talk:Hungry Horse, Montana. olderwiser 14:12, 22 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
This type of thing is surprisingly difficult to determine what you should use. Clearly we should use CDP as it refers to the statistics, but it is not so clear that the article should use CDP as the dominate name/type. There are a lot of issues. The postal service, census bureau, local/state governments, and local populous may all refer to the same name but a slightly geographically different area. Which one do we use? I live in Pennsylvania where many towns are legally a "Township". So the official name has is "Something Township", but the locals typically call it the town of "Something" instead. Just some thoughts. -- RM 17:22, 31 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm glad to see that you're not bent on pushing "census-designated place" as a new term to replace all words that might define a community. I, early-on, took offense when you used rambot to change the terms "town" and "village" to "census-designated place" in all U.S. related articles. To me (and I'm sure I'm not alone) it was like you saying "you don't live in a town, you live in a census-designated place and you're not a person, you're a statistic". However, judging from what you say above I don't think you are one of the TLA zealots I mention below (you haven't been reverting my edits). My only objection is the sentence "<insert town or village here> is a census-designated place." There needs to be an appropriate friendlier term.
I have been changing articles here and there trying to say that a CDP is a statistical boundary and that the named communities lie within the CDPs. I have also been adding the USGS locations to compare to the Census Bureau locations (they can be miles apart). Rsduhamel 03:17, 31 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

TLA zealots[edit]

Aren't there enough three-letter acronyms already? Good grief, the Census Bureau coins the term "census-designated place" for their statistical purposes and you all find nirvana because you have a new TLA to inflict on the rest of us. Saying (for example) "Pine Valley is a census-designated place" is no more proper than saying "Pine Valley is a zip code" or starting an article with "San Diego is an incorporated place". The Census Bureau web site says a census-designated place is the statistical counterpart of incorporated place, not a new definition for towns and villages. It also says that the boundaries of a CDP have no legal status. Furthermore, the USGS has been designating the locations of populated places since forever. The locations listed by the Census Bureau are the centers of the CDPs and rearely, if ever, are anywhere near where the USGS, and the people who live there, locate the communities.

Calling a community a CDP except for statistical purposes can also be very misleading. For example, I live near a neighborhood called Bostonia. The USGS, the Post Office and the people who live there place Bostonia within the city of El Cajon. However, the Bostonia CDP is entirely outside El Cajon. The Wikipedia article on Bostonia only covered the Bostonia CDP which most people around here don't think of as part of Bostonia. The Census Bureau places Bostonia nearly a mile from where the USGS, and most Bostonians place Bostonia. Another case is nearby Lakeside. Within Lakeside is a neighborhood called Winter Gardens. Nobody in Winter Gardens says they live in Winter Gardens; they all say they live in Lakeside (as does the Post Office). The Census Bureau has divided Lakeside into two CDPs. One is called Winter Gardens and the other is called Lakeside. The Wikipedia article on Lakeside did not include the part of Lakeside that contains Winter Gardens. So, starting the article with "Lakeside is a Census Designated Place" us just plain untrue.

I reluctantly agree with not using the terms "town" and "village" because the definitions are subjective. However, reducing the names of the communities we live in to a bureaucratic acronym is offensive. I don't know about other states but California uses the term "unincorporated community" for unincorporated towns and villages. That's still a bit bureaucratic but it's a hell of a lot better than census-designated place. I have edited a few articles to call such places unincorporated communities and point out that they fall within the Census Bureau's CDPs. I would appreciate it you TLA zealots would stop reverting my edits. Get real will you? Rsduhamel 02:38, 31 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Ok, I get your point, but calling us zealots is a little over the top. If it needs explaining, explain it on the article instead of attempting to merge an article with the name that has been around since 1980. For further details on why I oppose the merger, please see the link below. --Moreau36 22:11, 31 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Merge proposal to Place (United States Census Bureau)[edit]

See Talk:Place (United States Census Bureau) Rsduhamel 20:13, 31 March 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

so what is it??[edit]

Hey guys, I read the article, and the whole discussion, but I still dont get it?? what is that CDP?? I was asked to translate this article, so we can post it in polish Wiki, but im kinda lost. As a matter of fact, I dont even truly understand whats the difference between town and city.... City is bigger that town, right? thats it? anyways, From what I understand CPD is an area, that was outlined by the Census Bureau, and it was called something (ussualy the name of a city that its in, or next to), speccificly used for statistics, is that right?, so say this is:

|                     |             |
|                     |             |
|     City Peach      | City Pear   |
|                     |             |
|                     |             |
|                     |             |
|             ----------------|     |             
|             |               |     |
---------------  CDP Pear     |------
              |               |

so CDP is not a town or a city, it is just like a part of it, or just next to it, just made, so the Bureau can count their numbers is that right?? Frizabela 07:29, 5 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, the precise meaning of "town" will vary considerably from state to state. In some a town is a legally recognized type of municipal corporation, while in others it is merely a colloquial term for a populated place. And even in states where "town" is a type of municipality, people will often still use the term informally to describe any populated place (regardless of whether it is incorporated or not). As for CDP, you're not alone in finding it confusing. A CDP is never a part of what the Census Bureau regards as an incorporated place (which may be at odds with how an individual state defines incorporated municipalities). For example, in the New England states, a Town is recognized as an incorporated municipality. But the Census Bureau treats New England towns as subdivisions of a County and does designate CDPs within New England Towns. But the Census Bureau does not designate CDPs within cities (although, confusingly, it does sometimes designate areas adjacent to a city as a CDP and use a name which in common usage also may also refer to a portion of the city but that is not included within the statistical area of the CDP).
The main point, I guess, is that a CDP is a somewhat artificial designation for the purposes of collecting statistical data. In many cases a CDP will approximate an actual community and in other cases it may be a sort of "remainder" or the urbanized areas that are sometimes adjacent to incorporated municipalities, but are not a part of the municipality. So in your diagram above, if you are implying that CDP Pear is a populated area that is not within the municipal boundaries of either city, then yes that is possible (also I do not think the Census Bureau ever uses the name of an incorporated area as the name of the CDP--at least not without some modifer). But a CDP would not ever designate an area that is within the municipal boundaries of a city. olderwiser 15:00, 6 May 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm in a state which has a lot of CDPs, Maryland. In Maryland it is particularly difficult to incorporate new municipalities, so some of the biggest, most urbanized communities in the state are unincorporated and have no formal existence (see Silver Spring, Maryland and Bethesda, Maryland). Calling them "towns" is nonsense, because a town is a specific type of incorporated municipality in Maryland. So it is really important that we do not eliminate the concept of CDP here. And they are not just "places" either. The place people call Silver Spring is not necessarily coterminous with the CDP, and in fact the postal system defines Silver Spring one way, the Chamber of Commerce another, etc. -- none of them exactly corresponding to the Silver Spring CDP. (In fact, sometimes the CDP includes what some people consider two different communities: Wheaton and Glenmont, for example.) -- BRG 19:59, 14 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh, and yes the Census Bureau will use a name of an incorporated municipality as the name of a CDP: see Chevy Chase (CDP), Maryland, Chevy Chase, Maryland, Chevy Chase Village, Maryland. -- BRG 20:03, 14 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wow, the situation with Chevy Chase is pretty wild. Section 3 of the Village of Chevy Chase is the name of an incorporated municipality, as is Section 5 of the Village of Chevy Chase -- both distinct from the Village of Chevy Chase (which is actually a town) and the Town of Chevy Chase. Whew. Thanks for pointing out that the CDP shares the same name -- that is the first time I've come across that. I've seen CDPs named based on a municipality (e.g., Greater Galesburg, Michigan), but had not before seen the CDP having precisely the same name as a municipality (at least where the municipality was not treated as a minor civil division by the Bureau). olderwiser 01:58, 15 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It gets even more confusing. Chevy Chase is also a postal ZIP code area in Maryland and a neighborhood (in DC!). -- BRG 17:26, 15 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The ZIP Code for the Chevy Chase section of DC is 20015, while the MD Zip Code for Chevy Chase near the DC city line off Wisconsin and Western Avenues, NW is 20815. I'm not sure whether this ZIP Code is assigned to Chevy Chase, MD near the circle on the other side (Massachusetts Avenue?) - could be either 20813 or 20825. Lwalt ♦ talk 08:14, 10 October 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It only gets confusing because zip codes are designed for something unrelated: to make it efficient and convenient for the post office to decide how many distribution points should be used, and which ones deliver to which houses. It's a driving-around-logistical thing. It happens occasionally that a person who votes for mayor of city A has a zip code associated with a post office that's located in the city limits of city B. It makes sense to the post office because that's the most efficient way to sort and route the mail in that specific circumstance. (Or, perhaps it made sense at some point in the past, and forcing people to change their zip code is pretty burdensome.) Residents of Fisher's Island are New York residents even though the only ferry service to the island comes from Connecticut, and they therefore have a "Connecticut" zip code. But it's not really a "Connecticut" zip code, it's a zip code that defines "which houses get their mail from a truck that left from a certain distribution point". I recommend you leave zip codes out of this discussion, because it doesn't help the article explain what a CDP is designed to do. Petershank (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 18:40, 10 September 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

merging some CDPs in New England into towns[edit]

Related discussion about merging certain New England CDP articles to the town article. See Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Vermont#Merging town center CDP articles into town articles and Talk:St. Johnsbury, Vermont#CDP change for details. --Polaron | Talk 21:31, 14 November 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I removed the words "or area" after the word "place" in the opening sentence. The term "place has an official meaning to several organizations in and out of the U.S. The term "area" does not carry the same meaning. I'm sure it was added in an attempt to clarify the term but I think it confuses it just as much. I put "a concentration of population" in parenthesis to clarify the meaning. Rsduhamel (talk) 07:04, 16 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fixed the covedale example to another example[edit]

This phase An example is the former village of Covedale, Ohio, compared with Covedale (CDP), Ohio.

Since these both point to the same (merged?) wikipedia article, this probably isn't the best example anymore.

The better comparison is between Covedale, Cincinnati, Ohio, compared with Covedale (CDP), Ohio. rhyre (talk) 12:51, 7 August 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

New CDP designations for 2010?[edit]

As this article indicates (based on cited sources), the census folks have changed some of their rules and definitions for 2010. This obviously means that there will be some new CDPs this year, and some old CDPs will be redefined.

Polaron has started creating lists of new CDPs and has been adding information to various article leads regarding new CDP designations and changes in old designations. Some of his changes are sourced to GNIS entries for CDPs that were added to GNIS in 2010, but he has been unable to point to any other source for his information. I'm very uncomfortable with these unsourced additions. Does anyone know of a source for this information? --Orlady (talk) 16:59, 2 September 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: not moved. Malcolmxl5 (talk) 01:06, 11 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Census-designated placeCensus designated place – Standard usage by the U.S. Census Bureau which created this term is census designated place without a hyphen. To give two examples, see the documents at and Other links can be found in the article. Using "requested moves" in case anyone has a good reason not to move this. relisted --regentspark (comment) 17:09, 3 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Zyxw (talk) 20:43, 25 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Feel free to state your position on the renaming proposal by beginning a new line in this section with *'''Support''' or *'''Oppose''', then sign your comment with ~~~~. Since polling is not a substitute for discussion, please explain your reasons, taking into account Wikipedia's policy on article titles.
  • Oppose. Undoubtedly the term, as spoken, consists of three words concatenated: "census~designated~place". Once that has been settled as the content of the title from reliable sources according to principles at WP:TITLE, we turn to style. On Wikipedia that is the province of WP:MOS, where WP:HYPHEN follows just about all best-practice publishers and style guides. Our guideline calls for "census-designated place". That is standard use of the hyphen in English, both US and elsewhere. See this search on Google scholar: "census designated place", which shows that several scholarly sources follow the same style as Wikipedia. We do not necessarily go with the majority in style matters; but we find ourselves agreeing with those that are most style-aware and consistent. NoeticaTea? 04:33, 27 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Comment. I can't say that I really care. The official term does seem to be "census designated place" -- without the hyphen -- but that is a stylistic abomination, as the hyphen is clearly needed here. Both versions are "wrong", but for different reasons! --Orlady (talk) 23:12, 27 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose per MOS. Sources not using a hyphen properly is no reason for us to make the same errors. "Census-designated" is an adjectival phrase modifying "place," and this is a well-established and appropriate use of hyphens. I don't care if no one has told the Census that. --BDD (talk) 19:50, 29 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose: The marked inability of government agencies in the US and around the world to use proper grammar and punctuation, like hyphenation of compound adjectives, is no reason to enshrine their ignorance in an encyclopedia. It is standard operating procedure here to correct things like this. See also WP:SSF – aping grammatical and stylistic nonsense by specialized sources, be they zoological or governmental or fannish or whatever, is not logically defensible and is very unhelpful to encyclopedia readers and editors (and makes Wikipedians look willfully ignorant of basic style and grammar rules to the vast majority of readers who care about such things). — SMcCandlish  Talk⇒ ɖכþ Contrib. 22:03, 5 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Oppose I've heard that in American usage the hyphen is much rarer than in my form of English, and since this is an American topic that would seem to be a priority. But the fact is that even if what I heard about American English is correct, the current title is not "wrong" in American English as it is in Irish English (to me, the proposed title looks more like a sentence in the form N-VPast-N, but without the appropriate determiners). elvenscout742 (talk) 05:24, 6 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Any additional comments:
  • It was noted above that we don't always go with the majority, and in this case we have not. In the Google Scholar search mentioned there were 924 results, of which 441 displayed the phrase: 69% with "census designated place" vs. 31% with "census-designated place". For the same search with an upper year limit of 2003 (the year this Wikipedia article was created) there were 236 results, of which 103 displayed the phrase: 83% without the hyphen vs. 17% with the hyphen. -- Zyxw (talk) 21:47, 27 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Dead Link in Source 1[edit]

Hi. :) I'm a brand new editor. And I'm working on the article for my town, which is a CDP.

I didn't know what that was, so I clicked the link to this article, and then clicked the link in source 1 in the notes section.

1 ^ a b c "Census Designated Place". Cartogaphic Boundary Files. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2010-09-30.

That link directs to here:

But that page apparently no longer exists on the Census Bureau's site.

Since many areas in the U.S. are CDPs, and that is the first source in this article, we should probably fix it.

I searched but couldn't find anything similar and, being new, I don't want to link to the wrong source and break the article.

Any suggestions of what to link to now/instead would enable me to be bold(er). Thanks! :) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Msannakoval (talkcontribs) 14:01, 31 August 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Thanks for your comment. The Census Bureau's website has been restructured several times. The source content cited in this article is still valid to cite as a reference, although the URL may have changed. The page that is linked here likely is still available at, and it's probably been moved to a different location on the census website (I'm sure I've seen it recently, but I haven't taken the time to look for it at the moment). --Orlady (talk) 02:36, 1 September 2013 (UTC) Never mind -- it looks like you found it and fixed the article. Good work! --Orlady (talk) 02:38, 1 September 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How do you see a list of census-designated places?[edit]

I went to U.S. Census Bureau, Geography Division, "Cartographic Boundary Shapefiles - Places (Incorporated Places and Census Designated Places)". Cartographic Operations Branch, December 11, 2014.

which is given as a reference in the article, and you can download a zip file for every state, but I have no idea what to do with the files in the zip file. Thank you. deisenbe (talk) 00:33, 28 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Shapefiles are used to generate graphical outlines, borders, and maps. I think what you're looking for is what the Census Bureau calls "Gazetteer Files". They're in the "reference" section of their web site. Specifically, the "Places" gazetteer files are tab-delimited text files. Open one of them into a spreadsheet and sort by the "funcstat" column, to separate out cities from CDPs. Petershank (talk) 18:17, 10 September 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I have removed this from Category:Census-designated places in the United States as that is a container category and so should not contain individual articles. There is also a link to this article via the category as it is listed as the main article. Dunarc (talk) 23:48, 24 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]