1950 and 1960 Philadelphia Census Tract Maps


Hi all!

I am looking for maps of Philadelphia broken down by census tract for the 1950 and 1960 census. Let me know if you have any ideas where I can find this info on IPUMS!

Thank you!


Dear Thomas,

IPUMS NHGIS has census tract shapefiles for 1950 and 1960. Philadelphia will be included in those files. In addition to the shapefiles, we also have census tract-level demographic data that you can link with the census tract shapefiles.

To find those maps, do the following:

  1. Go to https://data2.nhgis.org/main
  2. Open the YEARS popup by clicking on the green YEARS button
  3. Click the checkboxes next to 1950 and 1960
  4. Click the SUBMIT button to apply those choices
  5. In the select data grid, click the GIS files tab to see shapefiles available to you
  6. I recommend using the 1950 and 1960 shapefiles based on the TIGER/Line 2000+ basis
  7. Click the green plus icons to add them to your cart
  8. You can now check out and download the files or you can add demographic data to your cart, using the options in the Source Tables tab

If you download source tables, you can link them with shapefiles using the GISJOIN attribute which is in both files. Please note that the shapefile and demographic data file will have all census tracts in the US. You can filter out the Philadelphia tracts by querying the file.


Thank you so much!!

Let me know if you have any suggestions re: how to open the shape files. Shapefile Explorer says I do not have permission to open the shapefile.


Once you’ve unzipped the shapefiles on your computer, you can use open source GIS software such as QGIS, or you can use R to look at the maps. I’m afraid I haven’t used Shapefile Explorer before.