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This guide organizes sources of statistical information on Philadelphia and the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Below are some questions to consider as you select sources.
Source: NIS Neighborhoods, Cartographic Modeling Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania
What geographic area?
What geographical area interests you--for example, do you need statistics for the city of Philadelphia, or neighborhoods within the city? Some commonly used geographical areas are listed below.
- Philadelphia City or Philadelphia County
The city and the county of Philadelphia have been coterminous since 1854, meaning that they are essentially identical as far as statistics are concerned.
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area
This is Philadelphia County plus a number of economically and socially integrated surrounding counties, as defined by the Office of Management and Budget.
- ZIP codes
Map (PDF). These are defined by the U.S. Post Office and are subject to change. The Census Bureau maintains its own version called the ZCTA (ZIP Code Tabulation Area).
- Census tracts
Map (PDF). These small areas are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau to contain about 4,000 residents. They change every 10 years, along with the Decennial Census. Smaller census units are block groups and blocks.
Though the names of neighborhoods are in common use, they have no precise definition, making it difficult to describe statistically. NeighborhoodBase does calculate statistics by its definitions of Philadelphia neighborhoods.
- Planning Analysis Sections
12 large areas defined by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission.
Map (PDF). 66 political units within the city, smaller than city council districts but larger than divisions.
What time period?
Most of the online resources listed in this guide are from the past decade. For earlier statistics, it may be useful to determine which organization or government agency collects the desired data and search for them as an author in Franklin, the library catalog. This will locate printed reports that are not available online.
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