The Census Bureau is fond not only of counting the population, but of
figuring out the number of people per square mile in states, counties,
cities, etc. And to do that, of course, they need to have the areas
of all these jurisdictions.
You can find the cities/towns file (known as the "Place" file) at:
The file -- one of several that are available -- is described in more detail here:
2000 U.S. Gazetteer
The place file contains data for all Incorporated and Census
Designated places in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and
Puerto Rico as of the January 1, 2000. The file is plain ASCII text,
one line per record.
Columns 1-2: United States Postal Service State Abbreviation
Columns 3-4: State Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) code
Columns 5-9: Place FIPS Code
Columns 10-73: Name
Columns 74-82: Total Population (2000)
Columns 83-91: Total Housing Units (2000)
Columns 92-105: Land Area (square meters) - Created for statistical purposes only.
Columns 106-119: Water Area(square meters) - Created for statistical
Columns 120-131: Land Area (square miles) - Created for statistical purposes only.
Columns 132-143: Water Area (square miles) - Created for statistical
Columns 144-153: Latitude (decimal degrees) First character is blank
or "-" denoting North or South latitude respectively
Columns 154-164: Longitude (decimal degrees) First character is blank
or "-" denoting East or West longitude respectively
The first record of the file starts off like this:
AL0100124Abbeville city 2987 1353 40301945 120383
The front matter is the state and Census code, followed by the city
name, Abbeville. After that you have:
Land area (sq meters).......4,030,195
Water area (sq meters)........120,383
Land area (sq mi)..................15.560669
Water area (sq mi)..................0.046480
I didn't include the next two numbers, which are the latititude and longitude.
This should be everything you need -- and then some -- to pull out the
town area data for New England, but let me know if you require any
search strategy -- Used bookmarked site for the Census Bureau
Clarification of Answer by
12 Apr 2005 19:00 PDT
Your comment reminded me of something I read a while ago, and that I
can't bring fully to mind. But essentially, it's this: for obscure
historical reasons, the towns and cities in many of the New England
states are considered a different sort of creature than towns and
cities elsewhere -- at least as far as the Census Bureau is concerned.
So...not all of them are listed in the "Places" file, even though --
to you and me -- they're certainly deserving of being considered
Turns out, the fuller listing is the subdivision file:
and a check of the MA listings shows -- sure enough -- a bit more than
350 city and town listings.
I think this one should do the trick. But if you check the file and
something seems "off", just let me know, and I'll see what else I can
come up with.