Census Bureau

- LOCATING 1990 CENSUS TRACTS
- MATCHING ADDRESSES TO CENSUS TRACTS
- LISTINGS OF QUALIFYING POVERTY TRACTS


There are a variety of tools available to determine in which 1990 census tract a particular address is located, as well as the poverty rate and other information related to that census tract. They range from paper maps to the Internet. Not all of these tools are equally appropriate for every user, however, and not all of the tools are equally capable in every situation. It should be noted that there are some parts of the country with areas identified as Block Numbering Areas (BNAs). These are the geographic equivalent to a census tract, and the two terms will be used interchangeably. This resource guide is in three parts, Part I - Locating Census Tracts, Part II - Census Bureau tools used to determine the 1990 Census Tract, and Part III - Determining Poverty Rates.

PART I - LOCATING 1990 CENSUS TRACTS

LOCAL GOVERNMENT SOURCES

If you are trying to determine the census tract for a particular location, one option is to try your local government. The local planning department, the development commission, or council of governments in your area may have this information since census tract data are often used for planning purposes. Ask them for help in locating the census tract. The materials that they may have available to determine the census tract include the 1990 Census Tract/Block Numbering Area Outline maps, the TIGER/Census Tract Street Index, and LandView II. These tools are described in more detail below.

STATE DATA CENTERS

There are also sources of information in each state called State Data Centers. These are organizations (state government agencies, university libraries, etc.) that have a partnership with the Census Bureau to provide places to access Census data and to receive help in its use. There are one or more in each state. They would use the same sources listed above. On the Internet you can find the list of State Data Centers with addresses and phone numbers, or you can call the Census Bureau at 301-457-1305. These organizations vary in the resources available to provide assistance, and some must support their work with user fees.

FEDERAL DEPOSITORY LIBRARIES

Another option is to contact a Federal Depository Library. These libraries keep copies of most Federal Government publications and other resources. There are about 1,400 of these facilities across the country (at least one in each Congressional district) and most of them have the reference materials (listed above) necessary to determine the census tract for an address. Depending on their staff resources, they may do the work for you or ask you to come in and do it yourself. To locate the nearest one to you call this toll free number 1-888-293-6498 or visit the Federal Depository Web site.

INTERNET SOURCE

If you have access to the World Wide Web on the Internet you can use a service (for a subscription fee) that the Census Bureau provides. It is called the Census Tract Street Locator. This service can identify census tract numbers for most addresses, but the data base does not as yet contain information for those areas that use rural route Post Office boxes or for new streets added within the last few years.


PART II - CENSUS BUREAU TOOLS USED TO DETERMINE
THE 1990 CENSUS TRACT

1990 CENSUS TRACT/BLOCK NUMBERING AREA OUTLINE MAPS

These are large format maps (3 ft. by 4 ft.) and are available on a county basis. Coverage for a county usually requires multiple sheets. The cost is $5 per sheet with a $25 minimum order. Since address ranges are not printed on the maps, one must know the location of the address to match it correctly to a given census tract. Also, the maps show only the boundary features (streets, streams, political boundaries,etc.) of the census tracts without interior streets. These maps are most useful to people with a good knowledge of the area.

LANDVIEW II

This product was developed in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency to map the location of hazardous waste sites and to provide basic census statistics for the areas around these sites. Because it can display the 1990 census tract boundaries over the network of streets, it is useful for matching addresses to census tracts. This product is somewhat slower than the data base system used by the TIGER/Census Tract Street Index. However, since it is a map-based system, one can code rural addresses and new construction provided that one has a knowledge of the location of the address on the ground. The product is distributed on a set of 11 CD-ROMs for $95/CD-ROM or $795 for the complete set. One can also get the software and one county's worth of data free through the Census Bureau's TIGER Web page.

TIGER/CENSUS TRACT STREET INDEX

This product was developed specifically to match addresses to census tracts and is available as a set of six CD-ROMs (IBM-PC compatible) or as a computer printout listing by county. The CD-ROM product comes with software that allows one to lookup individual addresses interactively and to determine the 1990 census tract number. Each CD-ROM costs $90 ($400 for a complete set) and contains the data for several states. The data are stored in a common format (.dbf) so the user has the option of developing custom software to access the data. The product will be able to match most addresses with the exceptions of those with rural Post Office box addresses and those on streets that have been constructed since April 1, 1990. A detailed description of this product is provided. A new version (in Windows 95 format only) with significant address coverage improvements will be available in the Fall of 1997.

CENSUS TRACT STREET LOCATOR SERVICE

This is an Internet (World Wide Web) application which uses the TIGER/Census Tract Street Index data base mentioned above. Currently it is available on a fee basis through a quarterly subscription and has the added advantage of providing the poverty rate for these census tracts. Test Drive the Census Tract Street Locator.

HOW TO CONTACT THE CENSUS BUREAU REGARDING PRODUCTS

By Telephone:
To purchase a product call the Customer Services Branch at 301-457-4100
For more information about geographic products call 301-457-1128

    By Internet:
    For information about geographic products and for downloading sample files and documentation visit the TIGER web page.

Visit the CenStore site for information about all Census Bureau products.

    For general information about the Census Bureau and its programs visit the Bureau's home page.

PART III - DETERMINING POVERTY RATES FOR A CENSUS TRACT

After you have matched addresses to census tract numbers, there are several ways to determine1990 poverty rates for those census tracts. In many libraries and in the State Data Centers there is a publication titled the Population and Housing Characteristics for Census Tracts and Block Numbering Areas (CPH-3) and a CD-ROM product titled STF-3A. Both show census tract data from the 1990 Census. The STF-3A CD-ROM can be purchased from the Census Bureau. If one has access to the World Wide Web, the Census Bureau's Census Tract Street Locator service mentioned above also provides the poverty rate for census tracts or access to the STF3A data from the World Wide Web under 1990 Census Lookup. See 1990 Census Tracts with Eligible Poverty Rates for listings by state of census tracts/BNAs with at least a 20 percent poverty rate. Note: All census tracts are shown for Alaska.


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  Last Revised: Sept-15-97