[Talk-us] [Tagging] how to tag US townships?

Jim McAndrew jim at loc8.us
Wed Oct 20 18:21:16 BST 2010

Pennsylvania township administrative lines were added with the Tiger 2000
import, they do not have point data associated with them, and I have found
them to be mostly correct in location.  I don't believe there is any reason
to add these municipalities as places on the map as point data, for they do
not have a traditional center.

As far as Pennsylvania and New Jersey are concerned, a township isn't really
a point place.  These townships were set up to govern a portion of a
county.  Many townships offer minimal services.

There are a few exceptions to this because some townships have grown
extremely large in the past 50 years, and these two states are not very
active in creating new boroughs, towns (NJ), or cities. An example of this
would be Upper Darby township in Delaware County, PA.  Even in that case,
people in Upper Darby are more likely to claim they are from a CDP inside of
the township such as Drexel Hill.  People generally go by whatever their
post office is.  Locals will generally have an idea of some of the township
boundaries but will rarely use them for reference.

Townships are not suburbs.  Townships were created before most cities and
boroughs in Pennsylvania.  An excellent example of this process is the
creation of Philadelphia as it is today.

Philadelphia started as a small cities along the Delaware River, as it grew,
it started adding surrounding areas.  The farm land around the city, but
still in Philadelphia county became townships, as population grew in certain
spots in these townships, new villages would form, these villages would then
become boroughs.  Philadelphia also had another form of municipality called
Districts at the time, which is no longer relevant.  In 1854 Philadelphia
City decided to join with the county, and incorporate every township,
borough, and district within the county borders.  Townships in adjacent
counties had become the locations for the newer suburbs, as well as older
boroughs in the area that were created distinctly from Philadelphia.

What is now Lancaster city was originally not an incorporated place, but
instead a village within a township.  Lancaster became a borough from the
surrounding Lancaster Township within Lancaster County in 1749, 20 years
after the creation of Lancaster County from Chester County. In 1818
Lancaster borough was transformed into Lancaster City, and in 1924 it became
a modern class-3 city.  While the growth of Lancaster as a place contributed
to the popularity of surrounding areas, and the surrounding boroughs (such
as Lititz, Ephrata, East Petersburg) now act as almost suburbs to the city
of Lancaster, they are not truly suburbs, and people from these boroughs
would probably be offended by being labeled as such.

Suburbs can form in townships and boroughs, but they are not suburbs

New Jersey has an interesting history with the creation of boroughs that
makes them seem a little bit more suburban:

There are townships in other states that are managed differently, but in PA
and NJ, they are just county subdivisions, and are not points to put on a

Jim McAndrew
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