Edit: Moving the ground rules to the 2nd post so it's easier to see the list.
I hereby officially propose that we come up with a list of US downtown populations, here in this thread, using the following source and ground rules:
1) We will compile here in this thread a list of downtown populations, as best as can be determined, using ONLY census tract data from the 2000 Census (the most recent nationally-produced data available at that fine a level of detail). That is, we will determine which census tracts constitute a city's downtown, then add up the populations of those tracts to reach a total for each city. (Yes, I am aware that the 2000 Census is dreadfully obsolete and that every city has seen tremendous growth downtown. There's nothing we can do about that until 2010 Census numbers come out, which will be at least a year from now. We will have to make do.)
2) To have your city included in the official SSP list, you MUST show all the data you use to come up with the total number for your city's downtown, including the list of census tracts you use (and ideally a map showing them). This will ensure that other SSP members can review your work and comment on accuracy. Numbers submitted that do not include a list of census tracts will NOT be accepted.
3) For the purposes of this thread, the word "downtown" shall strictly be defined as "the part of a city that is dominated by commercial and institutional uses at a scale much greater than the surrounding neighborhoods, and in which there is a contiguous area where residential development blends seamlessly with regionally significant commercial, or does not exist at all". For the purposes of this thread, the word "downtown" shall NOT include your city's central residential neighborhoods. Dense residential neighborhoods are NOT downtown, even if they have commercial "main streets" running through them, or other local-serving stores. This thread is about your city's immediate central business district, NOT its "greater downtown area". When deciding which census tracts to use when compiling numbers for your city, please make every effort to cut out neighborhoods that are primarily bedroom communities or secondary activity centers (such as uptown districts), even if they are very dense
. "Core population" and "downtown population" are NOT the same thing; we are studying the latter here, not the former.
4) Please follow the processes shown below to determine your city's downtown population:
For American cities:
(Scroll down for Canadian.)
For Canadian cities:
- Click this link to go to the US Census Bureau American FactFinder thematic map maker. We will use that program to generate our geographic borders and population numbers.
- Highlight "Census 2000 Summary File 1 (SF 1) 100-Percent Data" and click "Next".
- Under the heading "Select a geographic type", use the drop-down menu to select "..... County". It is the 5th item from the top.
- Under the heading "Select a state", use the drop-down menu to select your state.
- Under the heading "Select a geographic area and click 'Show Result'", select the county in which your city is located, then click the "show Result >" button.
- A pop-up will appear with a rotating "loading" graphic. Wait for it to load. Unfortunately, the website can sometimes be very slow.
- Eventually, a new page will load with a map of the county you selected. It will look something like this:
(This is Denver, by the way.)
- Now we will need to modify the map to show us the information we need. To do this, first select the "zoom in button" as circled on the image below, and click on downtown on the map to zoom in to it. Continue zooming in until you are all the way into downtown, which should be at either the "7 miles across" or "2.8 miles across" level.
- Once you are zoomed in to downtown, switch the display from "County Subdivision" to "Census Tract", as shown on the image below:
- Now the map is displaying census tracts. Hooray! The colors don't concern us, but FYI the darker green indicates a larger numerical population (raw population, NOT density). The next step will be to make sure boundaries between census tracts are shown. This is important because we wouldn't want to accidentally not count one. To turn on boundaries, click "Boundaries and features" in the upper left, as shown in the image below:
- A pop-up will appear with a table. Under the "Boundary" heading, find and check "2000 Census Tract". It is the 7th item down the list. Once that it checked, click the "Update" button in the upper right corner of the pop-up window.
- Now your map looks like this next image. Note the red lines delineating the boundaries between tracts.
- Now we are ready to start gathering data. To do this, Click on the "i", as shown below:
- Once the "i" is selected, clicking on the map itself will cause a pop-up to appear with information about that census tract. Click on each census tract that you think reasonably makes up your city's downtown, and record BOTH its tract number and the population residing there. In the example below, the tract number is "17.01" and the population is "2,225".
- Record tract and population data for all census tracts you think comprise downtown. For Denver, I think it is reasonable to include three tracts:
TOTAL DOWNTOWN POPULATION: 6,702
- If others here disagree with my boundaries for downtown Denver, we can debate it and come to a decision. Unless someone disagrees, the number for downtown Denver shall be 6,702.
- That information is the bare minimum that we will accept for inclusion of your city in the list. Providing it ensures your city's inclusion (scroll to the next post for the official list so far).
- If possible, provide a map of the census tracts you included in your count. This is not strictly required, however it makes reviewing your information easier. I won't go through instructions for precisely how to do this, but here is an example I created using photoshop. It clearly shows which three tracts I counted as "downtown":
Statcan's maps are easy to use, but require a lot of clicking and load slowly.
Statistics Canada Community Profiles 2006 (Here is the link for 2001's profiles.)
Step 1: Type in the name of the city
Step 2: Select the one that has (City) in brackets after the name, that gets you closest to downtown
Step 3: On the left, under the blue menu called "CITYNAME (C)", click 'map'
Step 4: Zoom in to at least the second zoom level
Step 5: On the bottom right of the menu at the bottom, click "census tracts". (If you go to page two of that menu, there is an option called "dissemination areas" on the bottom centre; this is a more exact area but you can only get population statistics from it)
Step 6: Select "identify" on the menu on the left
Step 7: Click on the map to highlight a tract. On the right, below the thumbnail map, the census tract number (5##0###.##), population and private dwelling count is displayed.
Step 8: For more detailed info, from ethnic backgrounds to percentage of the population commuting by bicycle, click "additional data" (right most option on the menu bar below the map), and click the first link, "census tract profiles - 00##.##"; it will bring you to a page like this.
I recommend using Google Maps and a spreadsheet to assist you in deciding which tracts to include and totalling up the information. Note that our Census doesn't record how many people work in a tract--at least not public--so you won't be able to get employment population figures, though you can find out how many residents are employed and, I think, how far they travel to work.