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All counties and statistically equivalent entities consist of one or more geo-
graphic units that the Bureau of the Census recognizes as 

county subdivi-

sions. 

The two major types of county subdivisions are minor civil divisions

(MCDs) and census county divisions (CCDs). A State has either MCDs or 
their statistical equivalents, or CCDs; it cannot contain both. 

Minor civil divisions are the primary subcounty governmental or administra-
tive units; they have legal boundaries and names as well as governmental
functions or administrative purposes specified by State law. The most famil-
iar types of MCDs are towns and townships, but there are many others (see
Table 8-1). In some situations, the Census Bureau must complete the cover-
age of subcounty units by creating additional entities called 

unorganized

territories (UTs)

that it treats as being statistically equivalent to MCDs. The

Census Bureau has established UTs in certain MCD States to account for the
part or parts of a county that are not within any MCD or MCD equivalent. 
As of 1994, unorganized territories exist in nine States: Arkansas, Iowa, Indi-
ana, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, and South
Dakota.

1

The Census Bureau recognizes MCDs and MCD equivalents as the

county subdivisions of 28 States and the District of Columbia (see Figure 8-1). 

Census county divisions are the statistical entities established cooperatively 
by the Census Bureau and officials of State and local governments in the 
21 States where MCDs either do not exist or are unsatisfactory for the col-
lection, presentation, and analysis of census statistics. They are designed 
to represent community areas focused on trading centers or, in some
instances, major land use areas. They have visible, permanent, and easily
described boundaries. 

In the State of Alaska, which has no counties and no MCDs, the Census
Bureau and State officials have established census subareas (CSAs) as the
statistical equivalents of MCDs. These are subdivisions of the boroughs 

County Subdivisions   8-1

County Subdivisions

Chapter 8

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8-2   County Subdivisions

(legal entities) and census areas (statistical entities), both of which serve as
the geographic equivalents of counties in Alaska. Although CSAs are similar
to CCDs, there are enough differences to warrant treating them as a sepa-
rate type of county subdivision.

The decennial censuses of population and housing identify and present
data for all types of county subdivisions in every State (see Table 8-2).
Certain types of MCDs figure in the population estimates programs, the
Census of Governments, and, on a selective basis, the economic censuses.
This chapter discusses the county subdivisions of the United States; for
information on similar geographic entities in Puerto Rico and the Outly-
ing Areas, see Chapter 7.

Background

The decennial population censuses always have sought to identify county
subdivisions as a primary geographic entity. The first census ( 1790)
reported population counts for MCDs (towns, townships, and other
units of local government), and this practice continued throughout sub-
sequent censuses. For States in which local governmental units did not
exist below the county level, various administrative units or other area
designations were used, such as companies, districts, hundreds, 

remain-

der of county,

 and

 eastern (or western) portion of county. 

Although

this chapter does not trace the history of such alternate and short-lived
entities in detail, the final section of this chapter provides some back-
ground information about the different kinds of MCDs used for the 1990
decennial census.

Starting with the 1950 census, there have been four significant develop-
ments in the Census Bureau’s treatment of county subdivisions: (1) the
replacement of MCDs with CCDs in 21 States, (2) the establishment of
the UT as a standard geographic entity in 9 States, (3) the subdivision of
Alaska into CSAs, and (4) the establishment of the Boundary and Annex-
ation Survey (BAS) program.

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County Subdivisions   8-3

Table 8-1.

 Type and Number of County Subdivisions in 1990

Townships

18,154

Census County Divisions

1

5,581

Incorporated Places

2

4,533

Towns

3,608

Election Precincts

948

Magisterial Districts

735

Parish Governing Authority Districts

627

Supervisors’ Districts

410

Unorganized Territories

1

282

Election Districts

276

Census Subareas

1

40

Plantations

36

Assessment Districts

21

American Indian Reservations

3

7

Grants

9

Purchases

6

Boroughs

5

Gores

4

Locations

4

Pseudo County Subdivision

1

1

Road District

1

Total County Subdivisions:

    35,298

1

  Entities established for statistical reporting purposes only.

2

 This total includes only those incorporated places that are governmentally independent

entities. For details, refer to the subsections “Treatment of MCDs and Places in the
Data Tables,” “Criteria for MCD Equivalents,” “Places,” and to Tables 8-2, 8-3, and 8-4.

3

 Only in a few instances are American Indian reservations coextensive with an MCD

(see Table 8-2).

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8-4   County Subdivisions

Figure 8-1.  

MCD States and CCD States in 1990

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County Subdivisions   8-5

Table 8-2.  

Type and Number of County Subdivisions by State in 1990

Alabama

Census County Division

390

Alaska

Census Subarea

40

Arizona

Census County Division

78

Arkansas

Township
Unorganized Territory

1333

2

California

Census County Division

386

Colorado

Census County Division

  208

Connecticut

Town

  169

Delaware

Census County Division

   27

District of Columbia

Incorporated Place (city)

    1

Florida

Census County Division

  293

Georgia

Census County Division

  581

Hawaii

Census County Division

   44

Idaho

Census County Division

  170

lIlinois

Township
Election Precinct
Incorporated Place (city)

1434
  243
     2

Indiana

Township

1008

Iowa

Township
Incorporated Place (city)
Unorganized Territory

1602
    53
     1

Kansas

Township
Incorporated Place (city)
Unorganized Territory

1414
  129
     2

Kentucky

Census County Division

  475

Louisiana

Parish Governing Authority District
Incorporated Place (city)
Unorganized Territory

  627
     1
     1

Maine

Town
Plantation
Unorganized Territory
Incorporated Place (city)
American Indian Reservation
Gore

433

36
35
22

3
1

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8-6   County Subdivisions

Table 8-2.  (cont.)

Maryland

Election District
Assessment District
Incorporated Place (city)

 276

 21

    1

Massachusetts

Town
Incorporated Place (city)

312

39

Michigan

Township
Incorporated Place (city)

1242

283

Minnesota

Township
Incorporated Place (city)
Unorganized Territory

1803

880

59

Mississippi

Supervisors’ District

410

Missouri

Township
Incorporated Place (city)

1367

  

1

Montana

Census County Division

193

Nebraska

Election Precinct
Township
Incorporated Place (city)

705
469

81

Nevada

Census County Division

67

New Hampshire

Town
Incorporated Place (city)
Grant
Purchase
Township
Location

222

 13

    8
     6
     6
    4

New Jersey

Incorporated Place (total)

Borough
City
Town
Village

Township

320
250

52
15

3

247

New Mexico

Census County Division

131

New York

Town
Incorporated Place (city)
American Indian Reservation
Borough

932

62
14

5

North Carolina

Township
Unorganized Territory

1037

3

North Dakota

Township
Incorporated Place (city)
Unorganized Territory

1352

373

81

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County Subdivisions   8-7

Table 8-2.  (cont.)

Ohio

Township
Incorporated Place (total)

City

   Village

1318

235
171

64

Oklahoma

Census County Division

302

Oregon

Census County Division

211

Pennsylvania

Township
Incorporated Place (total)

Borough

 City

Town

Road District

1549
1034

977

56

1
1

Rhode Island

Town
Incorporated Place (city)

31

8

South Carolina

Census County Division

294

South Dakota

Township
Incorporated Place (total)

City

 Town

Village

Unorganized Territory

973
318
162
155

    1
   98

Tennessee

Census County Division

462

Texas

Census County Division

863

Utah

Census County Division

90

Vermont

Town
Incorporated Place (city)
Gore
Grant

242

9
3
1

Virginia

Magisterial District
Incorporated Place (city)
Pseudo County Subdivision

458

41

1

Washington

Census County Division

245

West Virginia

Magisterial District

277

Wisconsin

Town
Incorporated Place (total)

Village
City

1267

627
417
210

Wyoming

Census County Division

71

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8-8   County Subdivisions

The Shift from MCDs to CCDs

Many States in the southern and western parts of the United States had
few or no subcounty governmental units that could serve as an adequate
geographic framework for census purposes. The MCDs in those States
frequently proved difficult to enumerate because their boundaries and
names were not well known locally or were subject to frequent change.
Also, these MCDs presented problems in the data tabulations because
they often divided incorporated places into many component parts. This
cluttered the census tables with superfluous lines of data, many with very
small populations that were not meaningful to data users or that yielded
statistically unreliable data from the questions asked of only a sample of
households. In addition, most data users found these MCDs unsatisfactory
for purposes of statistical analysis because of frequent name changes and
boundary shifts that resulted in a lack of geographic comparability. These
changes made it difficult—or impossible—to use these MCDs as a stable
spatial unit for historical comparisons.

In order to provide a more useful set of geographic entities for data tabu-
lation and analysis, the Census Bureau worked with State and local officials
to establish a statistically equivalent subcounty unit that it called the census
county division (CCD). The State of Washington was the first to implement
CCDs and did so in time for the 1950 census publications. During the 1950s
and 1960s, State officials and the Census Bureau replaced MCDs with CCDs
in 19 more States. A twenty-first State, North Dakota, adopted CCDs for
the 1970 census; shortly thereafter, it opted to return to MCDs—a decision
based on the financial advantages of having MCDs that qualified for Federal
Revenue Sharing funds rather than any disenchantment with the advantages
of CCDs for statistical purposes. For the 1990 census, CCDs were estab-
lished in the State of Nevada, making a current total of 21 States with CCDs.
The adoption of CCDs has constituted a major change in the subcounty
geography for a substantial part of the Nation. For detailed information on
the origin and development of CCDs, the reader should consult 

Census

County Divisions, Past and Future. 

2

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County Subdivisions   8-9

Unorganized Territories

 

as Standard Geographic Entities

Some counties in certain MCD States contain territory, usually somewhat
remote and sparsely populated, that is not part of any MCD. For States in
which the township and range system of land survey existed, these areas
usually were included in some governmentally nonfunctioning survey town-
ship. In other States, these expanses of territory often were unnamed, and
identified in the census data tables as 

unorganized area,

 

unsurveyed area,

or 

balance of county.

These geographic areas posed problems in both the collection and the
presentation of decennial census data. Enumerators had a hard time locating
the boundaries of survey townships; moreover, the survey townships often
were very numerous and usually too small in population to provide statisti-
cally reliable data from the questions asked on a sample basis. Names such
as 

Township 69 and Range 21

, or 

Fractional Township 70 and Range 18

cluttered the statistical tables and associated maps, and proved confusing
to data users. In other situations, the unorganized area consisted of several
discontiguous pieces of unnamed territory which posed problems in the
decennial census data presentations. In 1970, the Census Bureau simplified
its coverage of these areas by establishing a standard geographic entity, the
UT, for data presentation purposes. By establishing UTs, the Census Bureau
was able to simplify the nomenclature and improve the geographic pattern
by using a smaller, more manageable number of subcounty entities.

The Census Subareas of Alaska

In its statistical presentations, the Census Bureau has used a variety of admin-
istrative and governmental units to subdivide Alaska. The present set of
primary and secondary geographic subdivisions dates from the 1970 census
when the Census Bureau and State officials cooperatively established 

census

divisions

 and 

census subdivisions

 as the county and subcounty equivalent

geographic entities. In those parts of Alaska covered by boroughs (large-
area governmental units with functions and powers similar to counties in
the coterminous 48 States), the census divisions usually were the same as
the boroughs, although in a few instances they included adjacent military

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8-10   County Subdivisions

reservations. In the remainder of the State, the 

unorganized borough

 (the

legal term for the area outside of any borough), the Census Bureau and State
officials delineated census subdivisions to generally follow the boundaries
of the State’s election districts. The census subdivision level served to iden-
tify boroughs and military reservations within census divisions. One of the
census divisions derived from the unorganized borough was divided into
two portions, each a census subdivision.

The Census Bureau and State officials adjusted the census division and cen-
sus subdivision boundaries for the 1980 census. The borough-based census
divisions were then referred to as 

boroughs,

 the remaining census divisions

were renamed 

census areas,

 and all the census subdivisions were renamed

census subareas

. Many of the former census divisions were split or merged

to conform to the boundaries of the recently established Alaska Native
Regional Corporations (ANRCs).

3

 In some cases the boroughs and census

areas were subdivided into census subareas by using the boundaries of
the ANRCs, significant military reservations, and the 1970 census divisions.
Most of the 1980 CSAs remained unchanged for 1990, except for those
in parts of the State in which new boroughs and new census areas had
been established.

The Boundary and Annexation Survey

In 1972, the Census Bureau initiated the Boundary and Annexation Survey
(BAS) program. The BAS, repeated periodically, collects information about
the legal characteristics, territories annexed or detached, and boundaries of
all counties, MCDs, and incorporated places. The BAS program supplanted
the previous practice of obtaining local maps showing the legal boundaries,
either at the time of the actual enumeration, or shortly before the decennial
census date. The BAS, a more systematic, continuing effort, has brought
major improvements in the accuracy and timeliness of the Census Bureau’s
inventory of geographic entities. It is now the standard source for ascertain-
ing the existence and legal status of governmental units such as counties,
incorporated places, and MCDs; it also identifies any changes in their names
or boundaries. By means of the BAS, the Census Bureau can detect impor-
tant developments, such as MCD boundary changes, the formation of new

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County Subdivisions   8-11

MCDs, the merger or consolidation of MCDs, and the disorganization
(dissolution) of MCDs. For further information on the BAS, refer to
Chapter 9, “Places.”

Establishing and Maintaining County Subdivisions

The Census Bureau attempts to maintain a set of county subdivisions that
are, geographically speaking, relatively stable from one decennial census
to another. In the 28 MCD States, the Census Bureau always revises the
county subdivisions to reflect boundary or status changes resulting from
legal or administrative actions. At the time of each BAS, the Census Bureau
considers local recommendations about the boundaries and areas of any
UTs that might be required to complete the MCD coverage of a State.

The establishment of CCDs in a State is a cooperative effort between the
Census Bureau and State authorities. The first step usually is an expression
of interest on the part of State officials and local data users, followed by
consultations to determine if there are legal or constitutional requirements
for maintaining the existing MCDs. The Census Bureau does not compel
a State to replace its MCDs with CCDs; the decision always rests with the
appropriate State officials and ultimately with the State governor.

Criteria for Minor Civil Divisions

In the 28 MCD States, the Census Bureau uses the existing legal entities
as the standard county subdivision framework. To do this, it selects the
type of subcounty unit—or in a few instances, more than one type—that
(1) is a legally defined entity, (2) provides complete or nearly complete
geographic coverage, and (3) has geographic stability.

Local governmental and administrative units

  

Many MCDs function as

general-purpose local governments; that is, they provide a wide range of
public services to the inhabitants of a specific subcounty area. Almost all
of these local governments are active and functioning; however, others
may have an inactive status as governmental units, yet still constitute legal
entities. In States that have no local governmental units below the county

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8-12   County Subdivisions

level, or where incorporated places are the only form of local government,
the Census Bureau uses the most important and best known type of admin-
istrative subdivision; for example, election precincts or magisterial districts.
Table 8-3 provides further detail about the governmental status of county
subdivisions in the 28 MCD States.

Table 8-3.

 Governmental Status of Minor Civil Divisions in 1990

Arkansas

The townships are nonfunctioning geographic subdivisions of
counties and are not governments.

Connecticut

Of the 169 towns, 149 are actively functioning governmental
units. The remaining 20 towns are areally coextensive with a
single incorporated place; 19 towns are coextensive with a city
and one town is coextensive with a borough. In each of these
20 instances, the town and city governments are consolidated,
and the Census Bureau classifies the incorporated place gov-
ernment as the active government.

Illinois

Of the 1,434 townships, all but one are actively functioning gov-
ernmental units. The exception is Cicero township coextensive
with the city of Cicero, which performs the functions of the
township as well. The election precincts are nonfunctioning
geographic subdivisions of the county used in conducting elec-
tions and are not governments.

Indiana

All townships are actively functioning governmental units.

Iowa

Through an agreement between the State of Iowa and the Census
Bureau, all townships are classified as nonfunctioning geographic
subdivisions of the county and are not governments. Iowa town-
ships can, and some do, perform a limited governmental function,
but the township officials for the most part are administrative
adjuncts of the county government.

Kansas

Of the 1,602 townships, 1,543 are actively functioning govern-
mental units. The remaining 59 townships are inactive, but have
the ability to activate and perform governmental functions.

Louisiana

The parish governing authority districts in Louisiana are nonfunc-
tioning geographic subdivisions of the county used in conducting
elections and are not governments.

Maine

All 433 towns and 36 plantations are actively functioning govern-
mental units. The single gore is a nonfunctioning geographic sub-
division of the county and not a government. The three American
Indian reservations are functioning tribal governments; the MCD
reservations are not counted as governments.

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County Subdivisions   8-13

Table 8-3. (cont.)

Maryland

The election and assessment districts are nonfunctioning geo-
graphic subdivisions of the county used in conducting elections
and levying taxes, respectively, and are not governments.

Massachusetts

All towns are actively functioning governmental units.

Michigan

All townships are actively functioning governmental units.

Minnesota

All townships are actively functioning governmental units.

Mississippi

The supervisors’ districts are nonfunctioning geographic sub-
divisions of the county that are districts from which voters
elect county supervisors and are not governments.

Missouri

There are 23 counties containing 324 actively functioning town-
ships. In the remaining 91 counties, there are 1,043 townships
which are nonfunctioning geographic subdivisions of counties
and are not governments.

Nebraska

Of the 469 townships, 453 are actively functioning governmental
units. The remaining 16 townships are inactive, but have the ability
to activate and perform governmental functions. The election
precincts are nonfunctioning geographic subdivisions of the
county used in conducting elections and are not governments.

New Hampshire

Of the 222 towns, all but one are actively functioning govern-
mental units. The remaining town, Livermore in Grafton County,
is inactive, but it has the ability to activate and perform govern-
mental functions. The grants, locations, and purchases are non-
functioning geographic subdivisions of the county and are
not governments.

New Jersey

All townships are actively functioning governmental units.

New York

Of the 932 towns, all but three are actively functioning govern-
mental units. Each of the remaining three towns is areally coexten-
sive with a single incorporated village (East Rochester in Monroe
County, and Mount Kisco and Scarsdale in Westchester County).
In each of these instances, the town and village governments are
consolidated, and the Census Bureau classifies the incorporated
place government as the active government. The three American
Indian reservations are functioning tribal governments; the MCD
reservations are not counted as governments. The five boroughs
are classified as nonfunctioning geographic areas at the MCD
level and not as governments.

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8-14   County Subdivisions

Table 8-3. (cont.)

North Carolina

The townships are nonfunctioning geographic subdivisions of
counties and are not governments.

North Dakota

Of the 1,352 townships, all but one are actively functioning gov-
ernmental units. The remaining township, Fargo in Cass County,
is inactive, but it has the ability to activate and perform govern-
mental functions.

Ohio

Of the 1,318 townships, all but one are actively functioning gov-
ernmental units. The remaining township, Wayne in Montgomery
County, is inactive, but it has the ability to activate and perform
governmental functions.

Pennsylvania

Of the 1,549 townships, all but one are actively functioning gov-
ernmental units. The remaining township, Cold Spring in Lebanon
County, is inactive, but it has the ability to activate and perform
governmental functions. The single road district, East Fork in
Potter County, also is an actively functioning government.

Rhode Island

All towns are actively functioning governmental units.

South Dakota

All townships are actively functioning governmental units.

Vermont

Of the 242 towns, all but five are actively functioning govern-
mental units. The five remaining towns (Glastenbury in Benning-
ton County, Averill, Ferdinand, and Lewis in Essex County, and
Somerset in Windham County) are inactive, but they have the
ability to activate and perform governmental functions. The
gores and grant are nonfunctioning geographic subdivisions of
the county and are not governments.

Virginia

The magisterial districts are nonfunctioning geographic subdivi-
sions of the county used in conducting elections or recording
land ownership, and are not governments. Arlington County is
not divided into magisterial districts; the Census Bureau assigns
the area of the county to a single, nongovernmental pseudo-
MCD representing the county.

West Virginia

The magisterial districts are nonfunctioning geographic subdivi-
sions of the county from which voters elect county commis-
sioners and members of the school boards.

Wisconsin

Of the 1,267 towns, all but one are actively functioning govern-
mental units. The remaining town, Menominee, is coextensive
with Menominee County. The town and county governments
are consolidated, and the Census Bureau classifies the county
as the active government.

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County Subdivisions   8-15

Complete geographic coverage

  

The Census Bureau requires that the MCDs

encompass as much of the geographic area of a State as possible. Where the
MCD coverage is incomplete, the Census Bureau attempts to supplement
the MCD coverage with an entity or entities that are MCD equivalents. There
are a few States where the Census Bureau must use more than one type of
MCD; for example, in Illinois it uses 1,434 townships and 243 election pre-
cincts (see Table 8-2). In the portions of MCD States where no MCDs exist,
the Census Bureau establishes UTs (see the “Unorganized Territories” sec-
tion in this chapter).

Geographic stability

  

The Census Bureau prefers that the MCDs in a State

remain relatively stable from one decennial census to another, with only
minor changes in their boundaries and areas. If there are massive or wide-
spread changes, the geographic pattern of subcounty governmental units
or administrative subdivisions is disrupted and the historical comparabil-
ity of the data is impaired. When that happens, the Census Bureau may
encourage the appropriate State officials to consider replacing the MCDs
with CCDs.

Criteria for MCD Equivalents

The Census Bureau recognizes two types of geographic entities that, for
statistical purposes, are equivalent to MCDs—independent incorporated
places and UTs. Although these two classes of entities are not, strictly
speaking, MCDs, the Census Bureau treats them as MCDs in order to
include all of a State’s population and land area within the county sub-
division level for data presentation purposes. In addition, there are
anomalous situations in which miscellaneous types of geographic enti-
ties are equivalent to MCDs (see the “Miscellaneous Entities” section in
this chapter).

Independent incorporated places

  

These are incorporated places with

governments that function independently from the jurisdiction of the
surrounding MCD or MCDs. They do not receive governmental services
from any MCD, except when they undertake to contract for such ser-
vices. Their inhabitants do not pay taxes to any MCD, nor do they vote

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8-16   County Subdivisions

in any MCD elections. The independent incorporated places in a State con-
stitute a separate type of county subdivision apart from its MCDs. Of the
28 MCD States, there are 20 with such MCD equivalents. At the time of the
1990 census, only 19 States had independent incorporated places. An addi-
tional State, North Carolina, now has independent incorporated places as
well. Usually these independent incorporated places are cities; however,
in some States they also are boroughs, towns, and villages (see Table 8-2).

Also independent of MCDs are those incorporated places that are inde-
pendent of any county; the Census Bureau refers to these as 

independent

cities.

 The Census Bureau treats the entire independent city as a single

entity that is equivalent to both a county and an MCD. Virginia has 41 inde-
pendent cities; Maryland and Missouri each have 1 (see Chapter 4, “States,
Counties, and Statistically Equivalent Entities,” for details).

Unorganized territories 

 

Some counties in nine MCD States (Arkansas,

Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota,
and South Dakota) contain unorganized areas, areas that never had, or no
longer possess, any governmental or administrative organization similar
to the other MCDs in that State. Such areas have no legal name, legal status,
or legal boundaries (except where bounded by MCD limits or a county
line); the county and/or State provides the governmental functions for
their residents.

The Census Bureau uses the term 

unorganized territory

 to identify such

areas, and has developed a standard approach to simplify the presenta-
tion of data for them in the tabulations from the decennial censuses. The
Census Bureau delineates each contiguous unorganized area as at least one
UT. Larger areas are divided into more than one UT using physical features
as boundaries. Each separate area thus is recognized as a UT, and may
be named for a former MCD, a large settlement, or a physical feature—
depending on which name best describes the area. In counties with sev-
eral geographically discontiguous pieces of unorganized area, each piece
is given an easily recognizable name usually based on its location within

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County Subdivisions   8-17

the county; for example, 

Central Hancock unorg

. and 

East Hancock unorg.

These measures make it easier for data users to refer to these areas on maps
and in the Census Bureau’s data presentations.

Miscellaneous entities

  

The Census Bureau classifies a few other geographic

entities as MCD equivalents. It treats the District of Columbia as an entity
statistically equivalent to a State, and as a single county equivalent with the
same name. The District of Columbia also is coextensive with the incorpo-
rated place of Washington city. The Census Bureau uses a single MCD, also
called Washington, to represent the same geographic area recognized as
the city, county equivalent, and State equivalent. Arlington County, Virginia,
represents a similar situation, where no MCD exists within the county area.
The Census Bureau recognizes a 

pseudo MCD

 to cover the entire county-

level area and gives it the same name as the county.

In the TIGER data base, there exists water area within the Atlantic Ocean
and Great Lakes that is not assigned to any land MCD. The Census Bureau
assigns these waters to an MCD entity identified by a code of 

000

, and

includes the measurement figures for them as part of the county total.
No other data are published for these entities.

Criteria for Census County Divisions

The purpose of CCDs is to provide a set of subcounty units that (1) have
community orientation; (2) have visible, stable boundaries; (3) conform to
groupings of census tracts or block numbering areas (BNAs); and (4) have
a recognizable name.

Community orientation

  

Each CCD should be focused on one or more com-

munities or places, and take in the additional surrounding territory that is
served by these in some fashion. The definition of community takes into
account factors such as production, marketing, consumption, and the
integrating factor of local institutions. This criterion is an application of
the 

functional integration principle

 that the Census Bureau uses to create

some geographic statistical entities (for details, refer to Chapter 2).

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8-18   County Subdivisions

The place on which a CCD is centered usually is an incorporated place or
a census designated place (CDP). Ideally, it should never subdivide such
entities; when it must, as much of the place as possible should be one
CCD. In some cases, the CCD is centered on a major area of significantly
different land use or ownership, such as a large military base or American
Indian reservation; in other situations, it can represent an area that is phys-
iographically different from the rest of the county. A CCD should always
consist of a single geographic piece that is relatively compact in shape.

Visible, stable boundaries

  

The criteria for CCD boundary features are

the same as those for census blocks, census tracts, and BNAs (for details,
see Chapter 10, “Census Tracts and Block Numbering Areas” and Chapter
11, “Census Blocks and Block Groups”). A CCD should have easily locat-
able boundaries that seldom change. They should be readily discernable
in the field and easy to depict on the Census Bureau’s maps. They should
follow physical features, such as highways, roads, railroads, rivers, streams,
power transmission lines, trails, or mountain ridges. A few kinds of non-
physical features are used; for example, county lines always are CCD
boundaries. In certain situations it is permissible to use 

point-to-point

lines 

(comparatively short projected lines between two definite points);

also permissible are conjoint city limits (a common boundary between
two contiguous incorporated places). As a result of these guidelines, the
CCD boundaries identify a stable set of geographic entities that allows the
data user to make historical comparisons at the county subdivision level.

Groupings of census tracts and BNAs

  

The geographic area of a CCD, or

the community or place on which it is centered, almost always fits within
the existing census tracts or BNAs. A CCD usually consists of one or a
combination of contiguous census tracts or BNAs. It seldom subdivides
a census tract or BNA. The result is a geographic pattern of county sub-
divisions wherein the data user can relate the CCDs to their smaller
geographic components.

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County Subdivisions   8-19

Easily recognizable names

 

 The CCD name usually is the same as that

of the largest population center or place within it. Sometimes the name
represents the two largest centers; for example, 

Bayard-Santa Rita.

 In

some situations, the CCD may be named after a prominent physical fea-
ture 

(Castle Rock, Cripple Creek, Mount Baldy)

 or a distinctive region

within the county 

(Death Valley, Everglades, Lower Keys, Tellico Plains)

.

In many cases, a CCD name consists of the county or focal place name
together with a cardinal direction indicating the portion of the county
or area relative to the place covered by the CCD. If a county name (for
example, 

Union)  

identifies a CCD, the directional indicator usually pre-

cedes it, as in 

Northwest Union.

  If a place name is used, the directional

indicator follows it; for example, 

Smithville North.  

In all cases, the objec-

tive is to clearly identify the area of the CCD by means of an area name;
CCD names always should be meaningful to data users.

Revisions to Existing CCDs

The Census Bureau does not encourage State or local officials to make
major updates or revisions to their CCDs. This policy reflects the desire
for a set of stable subcounty entities that allows data comparability from
census to census. However, updates and revisions may be necessary in
some instances; in these cases, the changes are made as part of the geo-
graphic work undertaken in preparation for a decennial census. If data
users within a county organize a Census Statistical Areas Committee
(CSAC) and develop census tracts, the CCDs usually must consist of one
or more census tracts or nest within a census tract. Where existing census
tracts undergo splits, mergers, or boundary relocations, and where such
changes affect a CCD boundary, the CCD boundary must be adjusted to
conform to the revised census tract boundaries. As part of the prepara-
tions for each decennial census, the Census Bureau provides guidelines
to the participants in the census tract delineation program for making
such changes (see Chapter 3, “Local Census Statistical Areas Committees
and Other Local Assistance”).

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8-20   County Subdivisions

Regional Variations in Types of MCDs

Because of historical, political, legal, and economic factors, the MCDs in
different States are not always comparable units in terms of their govern-
mental powers, legal status, and administrative significance. Moreover,
terms such as 

town, township,

 or 

district,

 have different meanings in dif-

ferent parts of the United States.

The Northeastern States

In the New England and Middle Atlantic States, the primary subdivisions
of counties generally are called towns or townships. Most of these towns
and townships are actively functioning units of local government and are
very well known locally. Although not classified as incorporated places
in the decennial census, they are legally incorporated units and have most
or all the powers of incorporated places. Because of this strong functional
aspect, the Census Bureau usually provides the same data tables for these
MCDs as it provides for places, and also tables where MCDs and places
are intermixed.

New England towns

 

 In Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,

Rhode Island, and Vermont, the towns are different from the incorporated
places called towns in most other States. Outside of New England, the term

town

 usually refers to a built-up settlement or population cluster intermed-

iate in size and governmental power between a city and a village. By contrast,
the New England towns were established initially to provide government to
an area rather than a specific concentration of population. Many New Eng-
land towns are from 20 to 50 square miles in size, and often contain rural
territory as well as one or more population concentrations. Therefore, the
settlement pattern of many New England towns, except in the vicinities
of the larger cities, more closely resembles that of the townships in many
other States.

In New England, the towns and cities, not the county, serve as the basic
units of local government. Since their establishment in the 17th century,
many towns have elected their governing officials and managed their local

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County Subdivisions   8-21

affairs. The county was merely a grouping of towns, established primarily
for judicial and penal purposes, and had minimal political significance.
Connecticut abolished its county governments in 1960; the counties in
Connecticut and Rhode Island serve only as administrative subdivisions
of those States.

Relationship of towns to incorporated places in New England

  

All incorpo-

rated places in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island
are cities that are independent of any town. All incorporated places (cities
and boroughs) in Connecticut are dependent on the town in which they
are located. One borough and all but one of the State’s twenty cities are
coextensive with a single town, and exercise the governmental powers of
both an MCD and an incorporated place in a single elected governmental
body. The incorporated places in Vermont are either cities, all of which
are independent of MCDs, or villages, all of which are dependent. Unlike
Connecticut, none of the dependent villages in Vermont coincide with
a town.

Other types of MCDs and MCD equivalent entities in New England

 

 In addi-

tion to towns in Maine, the plantations are actively functioning govern-
mental units. There also are three Federally recognized American Indian
reservations in Maine that are independent of any other MCD and that
the Census Bureau treats as the statistical equivalent of MCDs. In addition,
there are portions of ten Maine counties in which the Census Bureau has
established UTs as the statistical equivalent of MCDs. The gores in Maine
and Vermont, grants in New Hampshire and Vermont, and locations, sur-
vey townships, and purchases in New Hampshire are all nonfunctioning
areal units; these kinds of entities occur in less populous areas.

MCDs in the Middle Atlantic States

 

 The primary MCDs in New York are

called towns; in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they are called townships.
These MCDs share some of the legal and geographic attributes of the New
England towns in that they all are significant, active, functioning govern-
mental units (except for one inactive township in Pennsylvania). However,
there are two major differences: (1) counties in the Middle Atlantic States

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8-22   County Subdivisions

have greater governmental and administrative significance than in New
England, and (2) the local inhabitants do not always perceive the MCD as
constituting a single community. An illustration of the somewhat weaker
community identification of MCDs in the Middle Atlantic States is the large
number of separately incorporated places (nearly 2,000) and CDPs (about
800) in these three States. Although some of these separate incorporated
places have the same name as their parent MCD, the majority bear the
names of other communities. For example, of the approximately 1,000
incorporated places in Pennsylvania, only about 200 have a name related
to their parent MCD and, in some of these situations, it is the parent
MCD that was named after the place.

New York has two other types of census subcounty reporting units.
All Federally and State-recognized American Indian reservations outside
the boundaries of cities are separate from any town, and the Census
Bureau reports data for these lands as MCD equivalents. Also, the Census
Bureau treats the five boroughs that constitute New York city as MCD
equivalents. Pennsylvania contains one road district—East Fork district
in Potter County—that also is an actively functioning government.

Relationship of incorporated places to MCDs in the Middle Atlantic States

In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, all incorporated places are independent
of townships and form primary subdivisions of their counties. These
incorporated places are the cities, towns, and boroughs found in both
States, along with the villages in New Jersey. The relationship between
incorporated places and MCDs in New York is slightly different—all
incorporated cities are independent of any MCD, but all incorporated
villages are dependent on the towns in which they are located. A major
exception is the city of New York, which consists of five nonfunction-
ing MCD-level boroughs, one borough for each county that makes up
the city. Elsewhere in the State, five villages each are coextensive with
a single town (see Table 8-4). In three of these villages (East Rochester,
Mount Kisco, and Scarsdale), the residents elect a single set of govern-
ment officials to perform the functions of both the town and the village.

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County Subdivisions   8-23

The Midwest

The MCDs of the 12 Midwestern States evolved from the township and
range system of survey townships. These survey townships, in turn,
provided the geographic basis for organizing units of local government,
which were called 

civil

 

townships.

 Many civil townships consist of a

single survey township. The MCDs of 11 Midwestern States use the term
townships; Wisconsin uses the term town. Starting with the 1990 census,
the Census Bureau also recognizes, as a separate category, charter town-
ships in Michigan.

These MCDs, for the most part, perform less of a governmental role
and are less well known locally than their counterparts in the Northeast
and the Middle Atlantic States. There are exceptions—the charter town-
ships of Michigan, the urban townships of Minnesota, and the towns
of Wisconsin—all of which have the legal capacity to provide all the
governmental services associated with incorporated places. In most
of the other Midwestern States, the primary governmental function of
township governments is the building and/or maintenance of the local
roads and bridges; however, some townships, particularly in Illinois,
Kansas, and Ohio, may provide fire protection, refuse disposal, libraries,
cemeteries, hospitals, zoning regulation, and other types of services. In
Missouri, only 23 counties have townships that are local governmental
units; the 91 other counties have townships that cannot raise taxes for
general-purpose government and thus are classified as nonfunctioning
areal units. In Iowa, the governmental functions of the townships are so
minimal that they are not recognized as general-purpose governments
for the Census Bureau’s Census of Governments.

MCD equivalents

 

 In most of Nebraska, and in 17 counties in southern

and central Illinois, the survey townships never developed local govern-
ments. In these areas, the election precincts, generally based on survey
townships, serve as MCDs. There also are significant areas of Minnesota,
North Dakota, and South Dakota, as well as one area in Iowa and one in
Kansas, that have no MCDs. In these areas, the Census Bureau has estab-
lished UTs to provide statewide coverage at the county subdivision level.

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8-24   County Subdivisions

Dependent and independent incorporated places

  

The Midwest has many

incorporated places, and their relationship to MCDs varies from one State
to another. In North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, all incorporated
places are independent of MCDs, as are 842 of the 854 incorporated places
in Minnesota. All places are dependent on MCDs in Illinois, Indiana, and
Missouri, except for Chicago, which consists of two MCD equivalents, and
St. Louis, which is an independent city. In the remaining States, some places
are dependent, others are independent. In Iowa, 52 of the 953 incorporated
places are independent of MCDs, in Kansas 123 of 627, in Michigan 272 of
534, in Nebraska 79 of 535, and in Ohio 218 of 941.

Coextensive incorporated places and MCDs

 

 In Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio,

many of the larger incorporated places are legally coextensive with a single
township. There are 19 such coextensive city-township combinations in
Illinois, and in all but one case, the township has a separate government that
is distinct from the one for the place. Based on an agreement between the
Census Bureau and the States of Iowa and Ohio, the Census Bureau does not
include the township in decennial census data tabulations when an incorpo-
rated place and a township coincide. This makes it easier to find the place
in census listings and simplifies the gathering of MCD information through
the BAS, since State and local governments tend not to recognize the exist-
ence of many of these nonfunctional townships. Nebraska has ten election
precincts that are coextensive with a single incorporated place, and Illinois
has five. Missouri has four nonfunctional townships coextensive with a single
incorporated place.

MCDs in Seven Southern States

In Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, and
West Virginia, the Census Bureau considers other types of entities as MCD
county subdivisions. These MCDs are administrative or geographic entities
and do not function as local governments. In these States, the only function-
ing governments below the county level are incorporated places; outside of
the incorporated places, the county or State government provides services
to the residents of these MCDs.

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County Subdivisions   8-25

The townships in Arkansas and North Carolina have no functions except
that some serve as districts for the election of county officials or as areas for
recording property information. The MCDs in Virginia and West Virginia,
called magisterial districts, are areas for the election of representatives (sup-
ervisors in Virginia, commissioners in West Virginia) to the county govern-
ment. The supervisor’s districts in Mississippi serve a similar purpose. The
MCDs of Louisiana and most of Maryland are units used for conducting elec-
tions within the county. In Louisiana these are parish governing authority
districts; in Maryland they are election districts, except for Anne Arundel
County in which the MCDs are called assessment districts and used for taxa-
tion purposes. In all the above situations, the legal description is shortened
to 

district

 in the Census Bureau’s data tabulations.

MCD equivalents

 

 Two counties in Arkansas and two in North Carolina have

territory that is not within any township. There the Census Bureau estab-
lished UTs. The same situation applied to one parish in Louisiana where a
portion of territory was not part of any parish governing authority district.

Relationships of incorporated places to MCDs

 

 Virtually all incorporated

places in Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Vir-
ginia, and West Virginia are dependent on their MCDs. The exceptions are
the 41 independent cities of Virginia and the independent city of Balti-
more, Maryland; for Census Bureau data reporting purposes, these entities
are statistically equivalent to counties, and each is equivalent to an MCD as
well. Also, New Orleans city, which is coextensive with Orleans Parish, is
not subdivided into districts and thus is considered a place independent
of any district. Arkansas has one incorporated place that is coextensive
with a single township; West Virginia has three incorporated places, each
of which is coextensive with a single magisterial district (see Table 8-4 for
more detail). Several places in North Carolina have become independent
of the surrounding townships since the 1990 census.

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8-26   County Subdivisions

Identification of County Subdivisions in the 1990 Census

Treatment of MCDs in the BAS

The Census Bureau updates its inventory of MCDs based on results of the
BAS, its periodic survey of all counties, along with specified MCDs and
incorporated places. In each year from 1981 through 1987, county officials
(and, occasionally, State or regional officials) provided information to the
Census Bureau about correct names, legal (or governmental) descriptions,
and legal boundaries of MCDs. In 1988 and 1990, the BAS obtained this
information directly from the officials of MCDs that had actively function-
ing governments. Where the MCDs were administrative subdivisions
rather than functioning local governments, the BAS asked that county
officials provide this information.

The BAS mailout to local governments includes maps showing the latest
boundaries in the Census Bureau’s digital geographic data base, the Topo-
logically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) data
base. The Census Bureau uses the information that the local officials pro-
vide to update its files for the decennial census; these BAS responses also
are used to prepare for the population estimates program, the Census of
Governments, and other surveys and programs.

Name and legal status

  

The name of an MCD is its unique legal identifier;

the legal (or governmental) area description, also called legal status, of an
MCD is a generic category dictated by State law regarding subcounty units.
It is the specific term that describes the type of MCD, such as town, town-
ship, magisterial district, and election precinct. On a nationwide basis,
these terms are descriptive and not functional. 

(Town

 in one State may

mean something different in another State.) In census data tables, the
name of the MCD usually precedes its legal description, as in 

Smith town-

ship.

 Exceptions may occur, as in 

Township 6, Maguffin

, where 

Township

is the legal description of the MCD and the number 

and 

Maguffin 

consti-

tute portions of the name. The BAS includes a form showing the Census
Bureau’s most current information on the name and legal description for

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County Subdivisions   8-27

each entity. By filling out the BAS questionnaire, the respondent provides
the latest information on the legal name and description of the MCD.

Boundaries

 

 The MCD boundaries used in the 1990 census were those legally

in effect on January 1, 1990. The Census Bureau asks each BAS respondent if
there were any boundary changes, and if so, to draw them on the maps pro-
vided. It also asks the MCD or county official to sign a statement certifying
that the boundaries depicted on the map are shown correctly.

Update of Unorganized Territories

During the 1980s, some MCDs disorganized; that is, they lost their legal
status as organized units of local government and reverted to the status of
unorganized area. By contrast, some other areas that had been UTs in 1980
became organized units of local government. Because of these disorgani-
zations and organizations, the Census Bureau had to update its geographic
inventory. New UTs were identified, some existing UTs were combined
or split, and there were boundary revisions to ensure that UT boundaries
continued to follow visible features.

Revision of CCDs

For the most part, the revisions made to CCDs in preparation for the 1990
census were minor. There were, however, some significant changes as a
result of the establishment of census tracts and BNAs. The Census Bureau
encouraged the local CSACs and the State coordinators to use the 1980 CCD
boundaries as part of the new census tract or BNA framework wherever
possible. In some instances, new 1990 census tracts or BNAs were deline-
ated without regard to previously existing CCD boundaries. The Census
Bureau then revised or totally redelineated CCD boundaries for the 1990
census to coincide with the new census tract/BNA boundaries.

Geographic Identification Codes

The Census Bureau uses a system of geographic identification codes—
geocodes—to identify every geographic entity for which it reports data.

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8-28   County Subdivisions

Geocodes are basic components of the TIGER data base and the geo-
graphic reference files that the Census Bureau develops and maintains to
process the results of its censuses and sample surveys. Together with the
TIGER data base, these files form the basis for the tabulation and dissem-
ination of the collected data in their proper geographic entity. Geocodes
obviate the need to relate data to geographic entities by name only;
instead, the Census Bureau’s processing operations associate data with
the geocodes that are surrogates for the names of geographic entities.

In addition to the Census Bureau’s MCD/CCD code (discussed later in this
section), there are other geocodes that are part of the Federal Information
Processing Standards (FIPS) system, developed by the National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST) and now maintained by the U.S. Geo-
logical Survey. (The Census Bureau’s MCD/CCD code scheme is not part of
the FIPS code scheme.) The FIPS 55 system identifies named entities in the
United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands of the United States, and the
Pacific Outlying Areas. The scheme features a two-digit numeric State code
and a five-digit numeric 

locality code

 that uniquely identify each named

entity. The system further distinguishes between types of named entities
by means of a two-character 

class code

, consisting of a leading alphabetic

character and a number. There are 11 different class codes applicable to
county subdivisions; in combination with the State code and locality code,
they provide additional information about each county subdivision.

The FIPS 55 locality codes identify governmentally functioning MCDs
within a numeric range from 00001 to 89999. The codes in this range also
represent incorporated places, CDPs, and Alaska Native and American
Indian areas, together with other entities not included in the tabulations
of the decennial census, such as named localities, military installations, and
National Parks. All these entity names are combined and listed in a single
alphabetic sequence. The FIPS code range, 90000 to 98999, is reserved for
CCDs and nonfunctioning MCDs where they cover whole States, whole
counties, or their statistically equivalent entities. The FIPS 55 locality codes
together with the FIPS 55 class codes provide a unique identifier for the

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County Subdivisions   8-29

MCDs, UTs, and CCDs within each State. The FIPS 55 class codes most com-
monly used to identify county subdivisions are the following:

• T1 

(governmentally active MCD not coextensive with an incorporated place)

• Z1

 

(governmentally inactive or nonfunctioning MCD)

• Z3 

(unorganized territory)

• Z5 

(CCD or CSA)

For its censuses from 1960 to 1990, the Census Bureau established a series
of 

MCD/CCD codes

 to identify and alphabetize all county subdivisions

within each county. These are three-digit numeric identifiers, usually gapped
at intervals of five (such as 

005, 010, 015)

  that serve to organize the county

subdivision names alphabetically. To identify any county subdivision, it is
necessary to use not only its MCD/CCD code, but also the State code and
the county code. Because the MCD code is unique only within county (for
instance, the code 005 generally is repeated in every county), it is necessary
to use State and county codes as well to uniquely identify MCDs/CCDs on
a nationwide basis. The Census Bureau published both census and FIPS
codes for all entities appearing in its 1990 data products. For the year 2000,
however, the FIPS codes—State, county, locality, and Alaska Native/Ameri-
can Indian area—will be the only geocodes used in census data products.

Treatment of MCDs and Places in the Data Tables

The Census Bureau treats incorporated places as either dependent on, or
independent of, the MCDs in which they are located. (All CDPs are consid-
ered dependent on the county subdivision in which they are located, and
all places are dependent on CCDs.) In the hierarchical data tables, depend-
ent places are indented under the name of the MCD/CCD in which they are
located, and the count for each dependent place is included in that MCD/
CCD total. In some MCD States, all incorporated places are independent;
in others, all incorporated places are dependent. Still other MCD States con-
tain both independent and dependent places. Figures 8-2 and 8-3 illustrate
how the Census Bureau treats a dependent and an independent incorporated
place in its data presentations. Table 8-4 identifies the legal relationship of
each State’s incorporated places, whether they are dependent on, or inde-
pendent of, their county subdivisions.

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8-30   County Subdivisions

Status as of the 1990 Census

The 1990 decennial census reported data for 35,298 county subdivisions,
a net increase of 103 from 1980. The single most dramatic change—140
new county subdivisions in Louisiana—resulted from the replacement
of the 487 police jury wards with 627 parish governing authority districts.
Elsewhere, Arkansas lost 43 townships because of consolidations, West
Virginia lost 33 magisterial districts as a result of redistricting, and South
Dakota lost 31 townships because of disorganizations. The 57 townships
in Nevada were replaced by 67 CCDs. Apart from the new CCDs in
Nevada, there were few changes in the number of CCDs. Three States
(Kentucky, Montana, and New Mexico) gained a single new CCD, and
one CCD in Utah was consolidated with an existing CCD.

Other sizeable changes in the number of county subdivisions (29 new
entities) occurred in the category of independent incorporated places.
The increase resulted from new incorporations, annexations into addi-
tional counties by existing places (thus creating new MCD equivalents),
and a few dependent places becoming independent. There also was a
decrease of 13 plantations in Maine, most of which became towns. The
disorganization of some MCDs, coupled with the identification of addi-
tional areas as being outside of nonfunctioning MCDs, resulted in a net
increase of nine unorganized territories.

Relationships to Other Geographic Entities

Figures 2-1 and 2-2 in Chapter 2 illustrate, in generalized fashion, the
position of county subdivisions in the Census Bureau’s geographic
hierarchy. This section discusses the geographic relationships in the
50 States; for information on Puerto Rico and the Outlying Areas, refer
to Chapter 7.

Counties and County Equivalents

County subdivisions nest within counties and statistically equivalent enti-
ties and constitute complete coverage of all their area and population.
Where an incorporated place that is independent of any MCD exists in

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County Subdivisions   8-31

two counties, the Census Bureau considers each part of the place as a sepa-
rate county subdivision, even though the place itself is a single governmental
unit. The same situation occurs with American Indian reservations in New
York State; where reservations cross county lines, the Census Bureau con-
siders the part in each county a separate MCD.

Figure 8-2.  

County With an Incorporated Place Governmentally Independent

of Any MCD

Example 1: Geographic Areas Depicted on a
Census Bureau Map

Example 2: Same Geographic Areas in
Tabular Form

       

County

Area

Population

 6,000

500

4,000

500

500

500

MCD 1

Place A

MCD 2

MCD 3

MCD 4

MCD 1

MCD 2

MCD 3

MCD 4

Place A

Place A

Example 1 illustrates the case of a county that contains an independent place. That is,
the incorporated place is not governmentally subordinate to the surrounding MCDs;
rather, it is independent of these MCDs. In this situation, the MCDs stop at the limits
of the incorporated place, and the tabular presentation lists five pieces of geography
as county subdivisions—four MCDs and one incorporated place.

The data for the MCDs exclude the data for the incorporated place they border, as
shown in Example 2. Furthermore, any change in the boundaries of the incorporated
place will change both the territory of, and the data for, the adjacent MCDs. The
Census Bureau treats the incorporated place both as a pseudo MCD and as a place
in its data tabulations.

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8-32   County Subdivisions

Figure 8-3.  

County With an Incorporated Place Governmentally Dependent

on Its MCD

Example 1: Geographic Areas Depicted on a
Census Bureau Map

Example 2: Same Geographic Areas
in Tabular Form

Area

Population

 6,000

1,500
1,000

1,500
1,000

1,500
1,000

1,500
1,000

County

MCD 1

Place A 

(part)

MCD 2

Place A 

(part)

MCD 3

Place A 

(part)

MCD 4

Place A 

(part)

MCD 1

MCD 2

MCD 3

MCD 4

Place A

Example 1 illustrates the case of a county that contains a dependent place. That is, the
incorporated place is governmentally subordinate to, or dependent upon, the MCDs
in which it is located. In this situation, the MCD boundaries subdivide the incorporated
place, the place includes territory in more than a single MCD, and the data for each
MCD include the data for every incorporated place and every part of an incorporated
place it contains.

The tabular presentation lists the data for the entirety of each of the four MCDs, as
shown in Example 2. The MCDs include the appropriate portion of the data for the
contained incorporated place as a subtotal of the MCD total. With this type of gov-
ernmental structure, changes in the boundaries of the incorporated place do not
change the boundaries of, or the data for, the MCDs.

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County Subdivisions   8-33

Table 8-4. 

 Relationship of Incorporated Places to County Subdivisions in 1990

Alabama

Dependent

Alaska

Dependent

; four cities—Anchorage, Juneau, Sitka, and Skagway—are

coextensive

 with a single census subarea.

Arizona

Dependent

Arkansas

Dependent

; one town (Tollette) is 

coextensive

 with a single township.

California

Dependent

; one city (San Francisco) is 

coextensive

 with a single census

county division (CCD) and county.

Colorado

Dependent

; one city (Denver) is 

coextensive

 with a CCD and county.

Connecticut

Dependent

; one borough (Naugatuck) and all but one city (Groton) are

coextensive

 with a single town. Milford is a consolidated city containing

the separate incorporated place of Woodmont borough.

Delaware

Dependent

District of Columbia

Independent

; the city of Washington is treated as a single 

coextensive

minor civil division (MCD).

Florida

Dependent

the consolidated city of Jacksonville is 

coextensive 

with a

single CCD and county.

Georgia

Dependent

the consolidated city of Columbus is 

coextensive 

with a

single CCD and county.

Hawaii

No incorporated places; by agreement with State officials, the Census
Bureau recognizes areas of concentrated settlement as census desig-
nated places (CDPs) for the decennial censuses of population/housing.

Idaho

Dependent

Illinois

Dependent

, except for the city of Chicago, which is 

independent

of any township, creating two MCDs (one in each county in which
Chicago is located); 19 cities—Alton, Belleville, Berwyn, Bloomington,
Champaign, Cicero, East St. Louis, Evanston, Freeport, Galesburg,
Granite City, Macomb, Oak Park, Peoria, Quincy, River Forest,
Urbana, Warsaw, and Zion—are 

coextensive

 with a single township;

3 cities (Cairo, Golconda, and Petersburg) and 2 villages (Hecker
and Valmeyer) are 

coextensive

 with a single election precinct.

Indiana

Dependent

Iowa

There are 901 

dependent

 cities; 52 cities are 

independent 

of any

township, creating 53 MCDs; most incorporated places shown as

independent

 of any township are legally 

coextensive

 with a township

that is nonfunctioning and generally not recognized by local officials;
as agreed to by the State government, these townships are not identi-
fied in decennial census publications.

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8-34   County Subdivisions

Table 8-4.  (cont.)

Kansas

There are 504 

dependent

 cities; 123 cities are 

independent

 of any

township, creating 129 MCDs.

Kentucky

Dependent

Louisiana

Dependent

 except for the city of New Orleans which is 

independent

of any MCD.

Maine

Independent

 of any MCD; 22 cities creating 22 MCDs.

Maryland

Dependent

 except Baltimore city, which is 

independent 

of any county

and MCD.

Massachusetts

Independent

 of any town; 39 cities creating 39 MCDs.

Michigan

There are 262 

dependent

 

villages; 272 cities are 

independent

 of any

township, creating 283 MCDs.

Minnesota

There are 12 

dependent

 cities—Aurora, Beardsley, Calumet, Grand

Rapids, Johnson, Kinney, La Prairie, Marble, Nashwauk, Ortonville,
Riverton, and Taconite; 842 cities are 

independent

 of any township or

unorganized territory, creating 880 MCDs.

Mississippi

Dependent

Missouri

Dependent

 except St. Louis city, which is 

independent

 of any county

and MCD; four cities—Arnold, Edina, Kimberling City, and Lamar—are

coextensive

 with a single township.

Montana

Dependent

Nebraska

All 392 villages and 64 cities are 

dependent

; 79 cities are 

independent

of any election precinct or township, creating 81 MCDs.

Nevada

Dependent

; one incorporated place (Carson City) is 

coextensive

 

with a

single CCD and county.

New Hampshire

Independent

 of any MCD; 13 cities creating 13 MCDs.

New Jersey

Independent

; there are 250 boroughs, 52 cities, 15 towns, and 3 villages

creating the same numbers of MCDs.

New Mexico

Dependent

New York

There are 557 

dependent

 

villages; 61 cities are 

independent

 of any

town (creating 62 MCDs) excluding New York city, which is made up
of 5 MCD boroughs (one for each county within the city); 5 villages—
East Rochester, Green Island, Harrison, Mount Kisco, and Scarsdale—
are 

coextensive

 with a single town.

North Carolina

Dependent

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County Subdivisions   8-35

Table 8-4.  (cont.)

North Dakota

Independent

 of any township or unorganized territory; 366 cities

creating 373 MCDs.

Ohio

There are 86 cities and 637 villages that are 

dependent

; 156 cities and

62 villages are

  independent

 of any township creating 171 and 64 MCDs,

respectively; 4 incorporated places have a mixed relationship (Colum-
bus city is 

independent

 in Franklin County, but 

dependent

 in Fairfield

County; Fostoria city is 

independent

 in Seneca and Wood Counties,

but 

dependent

 in Hancock County; Hunting Valley village is 

independent

in Cuyahoga County, but 

dependent

 in Geauga County; Sharonville city

is

 

independent

 

in Hamilton County, but 

dependent

 in Butler County.

Most incorporated places shown as 

independent

 of any township are

legally 

coextensive

 with a township that is nonfunctioning and generally

not recognized by local officials; as agreed to by the State government,
these townships are not identified in decennial census publications.

Oklahoma

Dependent

Oregon

Dependent

Pennsylvania

Independent

 of any township or road district; 966 boroughs creating

977 MCDs; 55 cities creating 56 MCDs; one town creating one MCD.

Rhode Island

Independent

 of any town; eight cities creating eight MCDs.

South Carolina

Dependent

South Dakota

Independent

 of any township or unorganized territory; 154 cities

and one town creating 162 and one MCD, respectively.

Tennessee

Dependent

Texas

Dependent

Utah

Dependent

Vermont

There are 42 

dependent

 

villages; 9 cities are 

independent

 of any gore,

grant, or town creating 9 MCDs.

Virginia

There are 188 

dependent

 

towns; 41 cities are 

independent

 of any

county and magisterial district.

Washington

Dependent

West Virginia

Dependent

; one town (Glenville) and two cities (Moundsville and

Williamson) are 

coextensive

 with a single magisterial district.

Wisconsin

Independent

; there are 188 cities and 395 villages creating 210 and 417

MCDs, respectively.

Wyoming

Dependent

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8-36   County Subdivisions

Places

A place whose territory also is considered to be within the territory of one
or more surrounding MCDs is called dependent. The Census Bureau con-
siders all CDPs to be dependent places, whether the county subdivisions
are MCDs or CCDs. In the 21 CCD States, the Census Bureau considers all
incorporated places to be dependent; the Census Bureau also considers
the incorporated places of Alaska to be dependent on the CSAs. Incor-
porated places in the remaining States, the 28 MCD States, can be either
independent of, or dependent on, MCDs since the laws of the States vary.
Table 8-4 provides detailed information on the relationships between
incorporated places and county subdivisions in each State.

An incorporated place that is independent of an MCD is not considered
to be part of any surrounding MCD or MCDs; the Census Bureau treats
these independent incorporated places as a type of county subdivision.
If an independent incorporated place exists in more than one county or
statistically equivalent entity, the Census Bureau considers each county

part

 to constitute a unique county subdivision.

Some places are geographically coextensive with an MCD; for example,
independent incorporated places, and, in some situations, CDPs. In parts
of the United States where MCDs are perceived as communities, such as
in the Northeast, it is not uncommon for a CDP to be coextensive with
an MCD of the same name.

American Indian and Alaska Native Areas

There is no governmental relationship between county subdivisions and
American Indian and Alaska Native areas. Further, it is not necessary for
American Indian and Alaska Native areas to conform to the hierarchy
of States/counties/county subdivisions. There are exceptions—in Maine
and New York, some American Indian reservations are equivalent to
MCDs. Elsewhere, the Census Bureau established some CCDs and UTs
to be coextensive with, or to follow, the boundaries of American
Indian reservations.

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County Subdivisions   8-37

Census Tracts and Block Numbering Areas

Several geographic relationships apply throughout the 21 CCD States. The
most common pattern is a CCD composed of one or more whole census
tracts/BNAs; however, there are many instances where a census tract/BNA
consists of two or more CCDs, or more rarely, of one CCD and part of
another. In a very few cases, there is no geographic relationship between
the two sets of areas.

The MCDs of the counties in the nine northeastern States are both stable
geographic entities and well-known units of local government. As a result,
they often figure as the geographic basis for census tracts/BNAs. An MCD
generally consists of one or more census tracts/BNAs, and the boundaries
of census tracts/BNAs usually do not cross the boundaries of any MCD or
MCD equivalent.

By contrast, in the midwestern and southern States, the MCD boundaries
usually do not coincide with groups of census tracts/BNAs, except where
both sets of boundaries follow a physical feature. However, there are
some instances where census tract boundaries follow nonvisible MCD
lines, because the census tract criteria at one time permitted this situation.

Block Groups and Census Blocks

The 1990 criteria for delineating block groups within census tracts and
BNAs allowed block group boundaries to follow nonvisible MCD bound-
aries only in the northeastern States. When a CCD boundary was not a
census tract/BNA boundary, it was preferred as a block group boundary.
Where an MCD boundary, or occasionally a CCD boundary, split a phys-
ical block, the Census Bureau assigned an alphabetic suffix to identify
separately each tabulation block created by the location of the county
subdivision boundary.

Metropolitan Areas, Urbanized Areas, and Urban Places

The Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) establishes the
standards for, and then defines, metropolitan areas (MAs) either as

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8-38   County Subdivisions

freestanding metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) or as consolidated metro-
politan statistical areas (CMSAs) and their constituent primary metropoli-
tan statistical areas (PMSAs). In the six New England States, the geographic
building blocks of MAs are MCDs or statistically equivalent entities, rather
than counties as in other States. This practice harmonizes with the situation
existing in New England, where the MCDs are the primary units of local
government (for details, see Chapter 13, “Metropolitan Areas”)

.

The picture varies with regard to the geographic entities that the Census
Bureau uses in its urban and rural classifications. There is no necessary geo-
graphic relationship between county subdivisions and urbanized areas
(UAs) because the geographic components of UAs are places and census
blocks. The same is true of non-UA urban places, which are entities that
have 2,500 or more residents, because places often are subdivided by
MCD/CCD boundaries.

Other Geographic Entities

The boundaries of other types of geographic entities sometimes con-
form to county subdivision boundaries. For example, MCD boundaries
also may be used to bound Congressional districts. Smaller entities—
voting districts, school districts, and ZIP Codes—may sometimes con-
stitute an MCD or portions of their boundaries may coincide with MCD
or CCD boundaries.

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County Subdivisions   8-39

Notes and References

1

At the time of the 1990 census, there were UTs in Kansas, but not in Indiana.

2

U.S. Bureau of the Census, 

Census

 

County Divisions, Past and Future,

 [by Dr. Robert

C. Klove] Technical Paper No. 30, Washington, DC, 1973.

3

The Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (P.L. 92-203) established 13 business and

nonprofit corporate entities to carry out the business and nonprofit operations

established by and for Native Alaskans under the Act. Twelve have specific bound-

aries and cover the entire State of Alaska except for the Annette Islands Reserve;

the thirteenth covers Alaska Natives not resident in Alaska who do not identify

with any of the other 12 corporations. For further information, refer to Chapter 5,

“American Indian and Alaska Native Areas.”


Document Outline