Why Philly 'burb residents get confused

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Ask your neighbor which township you live in, and you're bound to get a different answer from everybody.  With so many townships and villas and boroughs, it's difficult to know exactly where you live.  I can claim Perkiomen, Schwenksville, Collegeville and even Upper Perkiomen as places where I live.  Crazy, right, but just about everyone who lives in the Philadelphia 'burbs has the same story.

 So let's break this down.  

Ways that the Philly Burbs are broken down

There are PUMAs, and Sub-Divisions of Counties and of course, Townships and Boroughs. 

Here are three maps to help you determine exactly where you live. 

You're bound to be the life of the next neighborhood BBQ armed with these maps!

What's a Public Use Microdata Area or PUMA?

Public Use Microdata Areas, or PUMAs, are geographic units used by the US Census for providing statistical and demographic information. Each PUMA contains at least 100,000 people. PUMAs do not overlap, and are contained within a single state. PUMAs were first created for the 1990 Census.[1] For the 2012 American Community Survey (ACS), there are 2,378 PUMAs.

PUMAs allow the Census to publish census data for sub-state areas throughout every state. For example, the ACS publishes detailed data every year, but due to their sampling procedure only publishes data for census area that have more than 65,000 People. Only seven of the 55 counties of West Virginia were large enough to receive estimates from the 2006 ACS. In contrast, all 12 PUMAs that partition West Virginia received 2006 ACS estimates.

The state governments drew PUMA boundaries for the 2000 Census, to allow reporting of detailed data for all areas. There were a total of 2,071 PUMAs in the 2000 Census.

Read more about Public Use Microdata Area on Wikipedia.

What's a Sub-Division of a County?

 A Census County Division (CCD) is a subdivision of a county used by the United States Census Bureau for the purpose of presenting statistical data. A CCD is a relatively permanent statistical area delineated cooperatively by the Census Bureau and state and local government authorities. CCDs are defined in 21 states that do not have well-defined and stable minor civil divisions (MCDs), such as townships, with local governmental purposes, or where the MCDs are deemed to be "unsatisfactory for the collection, presentation, and analysis of census statistics".

CCDs are not governmental units and have no legal or governmental functions. Their boundaries usually follow visible features, such as roads, railroads, streams, power transmission lines, or mountain ridges, and coincide with the boundaries of census tracts. CCDs do not span county lines. Each CCD is given a name based on the name of the largest population center in the area, a prominent geographic feature, the county name, or another well-known local name that identifies its location.


What's a Township and Borough?

A borough in some U.S. states is a unit of local government or other administrative division below the level of the state. The term is currently used in six states:

> A type of municipality: Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania (also formerly Minnesota)
> A subdivision of a consolidated city, corresponding to another present or previous political subdivision: New York and Virginia
> In Alaska only, a borough is a county-equivalent.


Maps of the Philadelphia Suburbs


Map of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Public Use Microdata Areas (PUMA) 





Map of the Philadelphia Suburbs Counties Sub-divisions