Mills Oakland Census Exercise I

Mills lies in census tract 4078. The tracts around it are shown below.

4069 060014069 Lower Hills Redwood Heights
4070 060014070 Fruitvale Allendale
4076 060014076 Central East Oakland Fairfax
4077 060014077 Central East Oakland Maxwell Park
4078 060014078 Central East Oakland Mills College
4079 060014079 Lower Hills Redwood Heights
4082 060014082 Central East Oakland Millsmont
4083 060014083 Elmhurst Dimond
4087 060014087 Central East Oakland Havenscourt

Stop and Think: Decode the Tract number 060014083.

Go to the US Census Bureau's American Fact Finder Website.


Select Advanced Search

Let's specify the geographic level we want first. We can get data at the state level, county level, and many other levels of aggregation. We will opt for the census tract level.
And then we specify the exact tracts we want - use control-click on Windows or command-click on MacOS.


Next we have to specify the data we want.


How to read the listing:


Column one contains the abbreviated name of the table or dataset. You will often refer to a table by this name. The next column is the extended name. The right-most column tells us the larger dataset or project or study from which the table is derived. Clicking on the info icon at the end of the row brings up some meta-data about the table. This is often very useful information.

Even at this stage we will get lots of data - pages of listings.


We are interested in "tenure" data (whether a housing unit is owner occupied or renter occupied) from summary tape file 1 of the 2010 census. We have to page forward several pages to find this data. This data is table "H4" - the H stands for "housing." The info is available from several different surveys; we select the 2010 census data.


And OILA! here's the data table


But sometimes we would like the data "in the other direction." This is called "transposing" the table (exchanging rows and columns). We have some actions we can take, one of which is transpose:


And here's the table transposed. This is generally the form we will want the data in because in a GIS dataset the rows correspond to features (in this case, census tracts) and the columns are fields or attributes of each feature. That's how the transposed table is set up.


Before you move on, hover over the buttons at the top of the columns to see what they do. Try them out.


Next, back on the Actions menu, click download. We'll download the file WITH descriptive names in CSV (comma separated values) format.

Stop and Think: Why might the file be called DEC_10_SF1_H4?

Open these three files:

  • DEC_10_SF1_H4_with_ann.csv
  • DEC_10_SF1_H4_metadata.csv
  • DEC_10_SF1_H4.txt

The first is the data. Take note of its rows and columns. The second is metadata.

Stop and Think: Based on this example, how would you define "metadata"?

The third is a bit more metadata.

We should keep this info together. In Excel, right click on the worksheet tab at the bottom of the metadata spreadsheet.


Finally, copy and paste the contents of DEC_10_SF1_H4.txt below the data in the metadata worksheet. You can now save the file AS a regular Excel file (File>Save As…).