A census-designated place
is a type of place
of population) identified by the United States Census Bureau
statistical purposes. CDPs are delineated for each decennial census
as the statistical counterparts of incorporated places
such as cities
. CDPs are populated areas that lack
separate municipal government, but which otherwise physically
CDPs are delineated solely to provide data for settled
concentrations of population that are identifiable by name but are
not legally incorporated
the laws of the state in which they are located. The boundaries of
a CDP have no legal status. The U.S. Census bureau states that
census-designated places are not considered to be incorporated
places, and that it includes census-designated places in Hawaii in
its city population lists because of Hawaii's municipal structure.
addition census city lists from 2007 include Arlington
County, Virginia's CDP in the list with the incorporated
The Census Bureau reported data for some unincorporated places as
early as the 1850 Census
though usage continued to evolve through the 1890
, in which, for the first time, the Census mixed
unincorporated places with incorporated places in its products with
"town" as its label. This made it confusing to determine which of
the "towns" were or were not incorporated.
Censuses did not report data for unincorporated places.
For the 1940 Census
Census Bureau compiled a separate report of unofficial,
unincorporated communities of 500 or more people. The Census Bureau
officially defined this category as "unincorporated places" in the
. For the 1950
Census, these types of places were identified only outside urbanized
areas. In 1960
, the Census Bureau also
identified unincorporated places inside urbanized areas, but with a
population of at least 10,000. For the 1970 Census
, the population
threshold for "unincorporated places" in urbanized areas was
reduced to 5,000. For the 1980 Census
, the designation was
changed to "census-designated places". For the 1990 Census
, the population
threshold for CDPs in urbanized areas was reduced to 2,500.
through 1990, the Census Bureau specified other population
requirements for unincorporated places or CDPs in Alaska, Puerto Rico, island areas, and Native American reservation.
Minimum population criteria for CDPs were dropped with the 2000 Census
.The Census Bureau's
Participant Statistical Areas Program (PSAP) allows designated
participants to review and suggest modifications to the boundaries
for CDPs. The PSAP will be offered to county and municipal planning
agencies during 2008.
Effects of designation and examples
The boundaries of such places may be defined in cooperation with
local or tribal officials, but are not fixed, and do not affect the
status of local government or incorporation; the territories thus
defined are strictly statistical entities. CDP boundaries may
change from one census to the next to reflect changes in settlement
patterns. Further, as statistical entities, the boundaries of the
CDP may not correspond with local understanding of the area with
the same name. Recognized communities may be divided into two or
more CDPs while on the other hand, two or more communities may be
combined into one CDP. A CDP may also cover the unincorporated part
of a named community where the rest lies within an incorporated
By defining an area as a CDP, that locality then appears in the
same category of census data as incorporated places. This
distinguishes CDPs from other census classifications, such as
minor civil divisions
which are in a separate category.
of the CDP district are included
in the data of county subdivisions containing the CDP. In no case
is a CDP defined within the boundaries of what the Census Bureau
regards to be an incorporated city, village or borough.
the Census Bureau considers towns
England states and New York as well as
townships in some other states as MCDs, even though they are
incorporated municipalities in
Thus, CDPs may be defined within New England
towns or spanning the boundaries of multiple towns.
Purpose of designation
There are a number of reasons for the CDP designation:
area may be more urban than its surroundings, having a
concentration of population with a definite residential nucleus,
such as Whitmore
Lake, Michigan, or Hershey, Pennsylvania.
- A formerly incorporated place may disincorporate or be partly
annexed by a neighboring town, but the
former town or a part of it may still be reported by the census as
a CDP by meeting criteria for a CDP. An example is the
former village of Covedale,
Ohio, compared with Covedale , Ohio.
CDP designation may apply to large military bases (or parts of a military base)
that are not within the boundaries of any existing community, such
as Fort Campbell
North and Fort Knox in Kentucky.
some cases, a CDP may be defined for the urbanized area surrounding
an incorporated municipality, but which is outside the municipal
boundaries, for example Greater Galesburg, Michigan or Greater Upper Marlboro,
- In other cases, the boundary of an incorporated place may
bisect a recognized community. An example of this is Bostonia,
California, which straddles the city limits of El
Cajon. The USGS places the nucleus of Bostonia
within El Cajon. The Bostonia CDP covers the greater El Cajon
area in unincorporated San Diego County that is generally north of that part of Bostonia
within El Cajon.
- The Census Bureau treats all townships as unincorporated places,
even in those states where townships are incorporated under state
is so even in those states (i.e., Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New
Jersey and South
Dakota) where the Census Bureau acknowledges that "All
townships are actively functioning governmental units."
- In some states, a CDP may be defined within an incorporated
municipality that (for the purposes of the census) is regarded as a
minor civil division.
example, towns in Massachusetts and Connecticut are incorporated municipalities, but may also
include both rural and urban areas. CDPs may be defined
to describe urbanized areas within such municipalities, as in the
case of North Amherst, Massachusetts.
CDPs represent an aggregation of several nearby communities, for
example Shorewood-Tower Hills-Harbert,
Michigan or Egypt Lake-Leto, Florida. However, the Census Bureau will be
discontinuing this method for the 2010 Census.
- Hawaii is the only
state that has no incorporated places recognized by the U.S.
Census Bureau below the county level. All data for places in Hawaii
reported by the census are CDPs.
some states, the Census Bureau may designate an entire minor civil
division (MCD) as a CDP (for example West
Bloomfield Township, Michigan or Reading, Massachusetts). Such designations are used in states where
the MCDs function with strong governmental authority and provide
services equivalent to an incorporated municipality (New England,
the Middle Atlantic States, Michigan, and Wisconsin). MCDs appear
in a separate category in census data from places (i.e.,
incorporated places and CDPs); however, such MCDs strongly resemble
incorporated places, and so CDPs coterminous with the MCDs are
defined so that such places appear in both categories of census
data. This practice will no longer be used in the 2010 Census.
- United States Census Area Description
- "Participant Statistical Areas Program (PSAP)", U.S.
Census Bureau, accessed 2008-03-09
- Census Designated Place (CDP) Program for the 2010 Census
- Final Criteria, Federal Register, February 13, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 30), accessed