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Is there an easy way to download the set of census blocks (12-digit FIPS codes) for a given state? I've tried using R packages tigris and acs to no avail. (Well, tigris works but it gives me the shape data for block which is major overkill since I only want to know what blocks are defined for each state.)

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  • This is a pretty important thing to mention. Census Blocks are 15-Digits, and Census Block Groups are 12-Digits. Estimates from the ACS Summary Files can be drilled-down to the Census Block Group levels; On the other hand, Demographic information are only available at the Census Block level for the LEHD and Decennial Census. – Kotebiya Apr 30 '17 at 13:29
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This isn't really a R-specific answer, but you can download a flat .csv for any given state at the FCC's website: https://www.fcc.gov/general/census-blocks-state

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You might want to check out NHGIS. You can download census block data and shapefiles for multiple years.

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If you are only interested in administrative boundaries of Census Blocks, there are 3 options to download Census Block shapefiles from the Census Bureau's pages (Option 1, Option 2, Option 3). Option 1 is their www2 version which is easier to navigate in a web browser, and option 2/3 are choices that can be used through an FTP program such as FileZilla.

I'll give a brief in description of the file names:

tl_YYYY_SS_tabblockDD.zip

The YYYY stands for the year in which the boundaries apply. The SS is the 2-Digit FIPS code for the state in which the Census Blocks are located. The DD stands for the decade in which the Census Block geographical boundaries were created/edited. Finally, tabblock stands for tabulated block.

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