[Talk-us] Place classifications

Minh Nguyen minh at nguyen.cincinnati.oh.us
Tue Jan 13 13:28:51 UTC 2015

On 2015-01-12 11:23, Elliott Plack wrote:
> Great start on this Minh,
> I tried to tackle this in the Baltimore Washington region last year.
> After reading the wiki, I decided on the following classifications:
> * hamlet: census population was less than 200
> * village: census pop. between 200 and 10000
> * town: census pop. between 10001 and 50000
> * city: major hub urban centers above 50000

I like the idea of lowering the bar for place=city somewhat, to rope in 
smaller cities that have their own suburbs as part of a "micropolitan 
area". However, if we just go by population, the map ends still ends up 
rather sparse, making OSM look undermapped.

Most rural counties have a center of commercial activity, often the 
county seat (or a former county seat). Even though its population may 
not reach 10,000, it's significant enough to be labeled at the same zoom 
levels as those that do. For example, I made an exception for Hillsboro, 
OH. [1] Nowhere else in the county comes close to its population of 
6,605. As a county seat, it has its own daily newspaper, radio station, 
fairgrounds, general aviation airport, high school, and two U.S. 
highways. I cite attributes like these in the changeset comment or note 
tag whenever making an exception.

[1] http://osm.org/relation/183049

> There are some CDPs though that would be a city by population alone, but
> really don't have a true city feel, and cartographically would look bad
> as being a city on a map. The tricky one is Glen Burnie, sprawl area
> south of Baltimore with no urban core, yet the pop is over 65k. It is
> marked as a city now, but really should be town I think. I like your one
> city per metropolis idea.

In suburban areas, even a city in the official sense may lack a downtown 
core. But yes, if you'd consider Glen Burnie to be subordinate to 
Baltimore, place=city is probably too prominent. You wouldn't consider 
any town to be a suburb of Glen Burnie.

The unincorporated places I referred to the other day are different than 
CDPs. They came from the GNIS database and likely originated as 
century-ago post offices, cemeteries, or railroad stops. Wikipedia and 
the Census Bureau are mum on most of these places, but it's entirely 
possible that they're marked on the ground with signs. I haven't heard 
back from the mapper who made them into towns, but I'd like to revert 
their changes soon.

minh at nguyen.cincinnati.oh.us

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