This page contains a collection of data sources for people who like data visualization and mapping. The list includes places where you can download shapefiles for use in GIS products, including ESRI’s ArcGIS suite.
I have not verified any of these datasets for accuracy – you should only trust your own verifications. That goes for spatial information sometimes included in the tables, like area, length, or geographic coordinates. Any GIS software will be able to recalculate these based on your preferred projection.
If you cannot find what you seek, contact me.
- Other collections
- Open Street Map’s potential data sources list
- University of Chicago’s links to other data sources
- Finding Data and Data Services – A research guide from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) written by Maps and Data Services librarian Becky Lowery. She lists and annotates links that serve as official data sources on a variety of topics for data from around the world.
- Geography and GIS – Another research guide by Becky Lowery at UIC about geography, mapping, and computer resources.
- Websites for Digital GIS Data – A collection of links curated by the Stanford University Library. Has several links to Bay Area and California data, but has links to each State’s “data depot” and international data sources.
- Amtrak Routes (KML) – Google Maps-compatible KML file (hosted as .xml) showing all Amtrak routes and stations. View in Google Maps. (via Hugh Stimson)
- Google Transit Feed – List of transit agencies that provide Google Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data to the public. May be incomplete list, but includes major transit agencies like BART, CTA, Caltrain, Metrolink, and SEPTA. View an unaffiliated list.
- Los Angeles Metro bus routes, stops, and rail lines
- United States National Transportation Atlas – From the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Includes vector (GIS) data on transit, county and state boundaries, airports, military installations, parks, and railroads.
- Various links – A list of links to other United States Government websites where you can download data.
- United States
- GIS DataFinder (for University of North Carolina students only)
- Census shapefiles for the state of your choice (via ESRI) – Choose a state and then a dataset to retrieve shapefiles. Shapefiles do not include complete attribute tables – you can download the necessary data from the Census Bureau’s website and then join or relate the shapefile with the census data using the FIPS column as the common attribute field. You can also download the files straight from the Census Bureau.
- National Transportation Atlas – The U.S. Department of Transportation provides on information as diverse as the location of alternative fuel filling stations, hazardous material routes, as well as expected information like highways and rail transit lines.
- GeoData.gov – a government clearinghouse for data and maps. View interactive online maps.
- Find your Census block
- Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO) – From the U.S. Department of Transportation, a database of all the metropolitan planning organizations, formed to comply with federal law.
- Northwestern University’s United States GIS data page
- Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology – An enormous link collection to datasets produced by various State of Colorado agencies.
- Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) maps of various Chicagoland areas
- Chicago historical boundaries from University of Chicago
- Chicago official data from City of Chicago
- Center for Neighborhood Technology’s GreenMapping project (includes data for Indiana and Wisconsin)
- Illinois historical aerial imagery
- Northwestern University’s Illinois GIS data page
- Chicago Data, a wiki site
- Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) shapefiles
- Metra stations and routes GIS shapefile (data from City of Chicago)
- Chicago ADT traffic data (data from City of Chicago, prepared by Steven Vance)
- Chicago Bike Crash Data
- State of Massachusetts – Data resources include orthoimagery, scanned maps, tabular data, and vector (GIS) data. Categories include Transportation, Infrastructure, Recreation, Land Use, and Boundaries.
- Washington (state)
- Puget Sound Regional Council – Shapefiles for Urban Growth Boundaries, Traffic Analysis Zones, and other data (including transportation, housing, population), from the local MPO for the Seattle region. Other MPOs should model their websites’ data sections after the PSRC.
- City of Tacoma – A handful of datasets.
- Virtual Terrain Project
- University of Washington – Data links prepared by theÂ Geomorphological Research Group at UW.
- Washington State Geospatial Data Archive (WAGDA) – Maintained by the University of Washington library.
- University of Waterloo directory – Links to Canada and international datasets.
- British Columbia
- British Columbia Gateway - “Welcome to GeoBC, your gateway to provincial geographic information and services.” (Does not display well in Safari.)
- Haiti Earthquake Data from the Harvard Center for Earthquake Geospatial Research
Web Map Service (WMS) is essentially a GIS API for sending GIS data over the web or a local network, developed by the Open Geospatial Consortium. All paid, free, and open source GIS applications support WMS.
- United States Geological Survey – Includes high resolution orthoimagery, agriculture imagery, elevation, land cover, impervious surfaces, and tree canopy.
- OpenStreetMap (OSM) directory of servers
- United States Navy – 966 links for worldwide and American datasets. Maintained by the Digital Mapping, Charting and Geodesy Analysis Program (DMAP) in the Naval Research Laboratory.
- University of Southern California – Provides its free, geocoding via standard web form or API to build into custom applications. Data returned includes Census Tract and Block, as well as FIPS codes for states, counties, and places (like statistical areas).
- Traffic Analysis Zone geocoding – A proof of concept web application, currently not public, for Cook County, Illinois, only.
- Do your own geocoding in QGIS
About Steven Can Plan
I started this blog in 2007 as the writing assignment for an introductory urban planning class at UIC. It's about cities (mainly Chicago), GIS oftentimes, and transportation (mainly bicycling). Learn more about me, Steven Vance. I also write for Streetsblog Chicago.
Steven Can Plan is hosted on Dreamhost.
Chicago Bike Map App
The Chicago Bike Map app is a bike and street map stored entirely in your iOS device – no data connection required. The map is designed to look much like the City of Chicago's official printed and online bike map. The app works on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Highly Recommended Bike Products
So far my longest trip was 40 miles on this saddle. It molds to your butt like Birkenstock sandals mold to your feet. The springs make the bike ride a little more comfortable and more fun (weird, because you bounce up and down on them). It also looks gorgeous. Comes in 3 colors - I got black.
These folding locks are lighter weight and more versatile than an equally strong u-lock.
The best value taillight. It has three red LEDs that alternate and provide extreme brightness. I have two of these.
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt
As someone who doesn't like driving, but believes that cars can be efficient in moving groups of people and goods, this is my favorite book.
Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi by Steve Inskeep
I reviewed this book that the publisher sent to me.
Sustainable Transportation Planning: Tools for Creating Vibrant, Healthy, and Resilient Communities (Wiley Series in Sustainable Design) by Jeffrey Tumlin
I was sent a review copy. I'm really excited to open it up and start reading because I've been disappointed with textbooks in the past that don't focus on bicycle and pedestrian planning.