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Q: City County State list ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: City County State list
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: yobert-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 21 Jul 2004 16:02 PDT
Expires: 20 Aug 2004 16:02 PDT
Question ID: 377350
I am tring to create my own database of every city in america, and
which county (or counties, I suppose) the city belongs to.  I keep
having trouble.. I can find various lists of counties in each state,
but none that include cities, unless I have to browse to it county by
county.  What I need is a single file list containing all this
information..  It can be HTML or plain text, I can parse just about
anything, I just need the data all together, and it must contain every
city-- including the little ones.  I don't need anything like
population.. Just plain old names.  Zip codes would be awesome, but I
can live without them.  I checked everywhere on, and just
plain couldn't find it!  Any quick help would be very much

Clarification of Question by yobert-ga on 21 Jul 2004 16:04 PDT
Also-- It is pretty important that the list is farely up to date (as in, post 2003).
Subject: Re: City County State list
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 21 Jul 2004 16:45 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello yobert-ga,

Thanks for a challenging question.  I'm a bit of an internet 
geography buff myself, so I like to dive into questions like this one.

And I'm happy to report, the database you're looking for not only exists, but:

1.  It's available free of charge, and

2.  It's a US government database, which means it's in the public
domain, which means you can use it in any way you see fit, without any
copyright restrictions.

Pretty cool, eh?

Anyway, the details are below.

Before rating this answer, please let me know if you have any problems
with the files, or need any additional information.  Just post a
Request for Clarification, and I'm at your service.



Head to the Gazetteer page of the US Geological Survey at:

Here you'll find quite an array of downloadable files, covering
numerous topics and in several different formats.   Most of the files
are arranged by state, but at the bottom of the page is a section
labelled "Topical Gazetteers".  These include several national
databases.  The one that should be of most interest to you is:

Pop places:  This is the USGS master list of populated places in the
US, and includes every city, town, village, hamlet, burb, borough,
etc. in the entire country.  And for each one, there's an associated
state and county.

Pick the format that works best for you -- probably the zip file, as
these are rather large lists (25Mb, unzipped).

After opening the file, you'll see entries that look like this:

AL Abanda                                             ppl      
Chambers        330603N 0853147W Wadley South                640

and what you have, in order, is the state, place name, ppl=populated
place code, county, and lat long.  The remaining items are not
relevant to your needs, I don't think -- for instance, "Wadley South"
refers to what USGS calld the "cell name", which I gather is similar
to a quad map label.    A detailed explanation of the columns is
available in the "read me" file at:

By the way, there aren't zip codes, but this isn't very surprising,
since many larger cities and counties are covered by a large number of
zip codes, and listing them all would make for an enormous (and
cumbersome) data set.

If the pop places file is more than you bargained for, you might also
want to have a look at the "us concise" files.  These appear to
consist of only the larger (but not necessarily "large"!) towns and
cities, along with names of other features such as mountains and
lakes.   The features are all identified by code, however, so you can
easily sort for the "ppl" code to identify only the populated places
of interest.

Hope  this does the trick.  Let me know if you have any questions.


search strategy:  Used bookmarked sites from my geography folder.
yobert-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Wonderful!  Not only does it have more than I had hoped for (the
latitude / longitude will help me compute geographic distances) but
that list definately has _everything_.  And, they labeled the things
that aren't cities (don't care about subdivisions, etc) so I can parse
them out.

Thank you so much for a speedy and exact answer.  I never would have
found that website.. sheesh..

Subject: Re: City County State list
From: scotru-ga on 21 Jul 2004 20:35 PDT
Nice find--anyone know where Zip codes can be found?
Subject: Re: City County State list
From: yobert-ga on 22 Jul 2004 06:56 PDT
ZIP codes are a whole lot tougher to find, since a city may span
several zip codes as well as a zip code spanning several cities.  For
example,  Fruit Heights and Kaysville Utah share 84037 while Salt Lake
City, Utah contains several zip codes.  That's why I didn't even TRY
to find that.. heh heh..
Subject: Re: City County State list
From: liner-ga on 22 Jul 2004 07:21 PDT
The USPS site sells a listing of zip codes and cities.  Depending on
what you need, they even have a complete ZIP+4 listing for more money.
 Just do a search on zip code database and you will find the
Subject: Re: City County State list
From: pafalafa-ga on 22 Jul 2004 17:23 PDT

THANKS!  And thanks again.

Have fun playing around with that multi-megabyte list.

And here's a link to a zip code list for sale for (yikes!) $125:

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