I'm doing a project that involves metropolitan areas according to the Census/BLS. I was able to merge Census and BLS data for metro areas because of their geoIDs. In some instances I had cities missing that I was able to then find in the census under different sections (NECTA, Metropolitan DIVISION, etc), which varies a bit from the standard MSA data I find when I go to the KML/geographic data section of their website. For example, some cities are represented in multiple ways -- New York, Los Angeles and Detroit for instance have multiple tracts with varying geoIDs.

I was wondering if there was any way there was an easier way to find these missing cities from Metropolitan Division, etc. as far as KML files so I could map my project accordingly. I have 395 cities about and a lot of them I have the KML files for from MSA geographic data on the census site, but there are a decent amount missing.

  • 2
    Before we are able to help to the fullest extent possible, I think there are a couple of things that need to be clarified. 1. Can you show us which data you are pulling from the Census Bureau/BLS? 2. What definition of metropolitan are you using? (There might be CSA, CBSA, or MSA)
    – Kotebiya
    Jan 4, 2015 at 12:53
  • i think answering @Kotebiya's comment will help greatly, but census bureau does have a tool for creating your own shapefiles from existing locations by adding them together, from which you could easily convert to kml....
    – albert
    Jan 6, 2015 at 0:20

1 Answer 1


As some comments to your question note, it's not entirely clear what you're looking for.

If you're looking for the CBSA geometries as KML, your best route would probably be to get the shapefiles from the Census and then convert to KML. (If you don't have tools to convert, googling shapefile to kml will turn up several online options.)

Shapefiles for metropolitan divisions are also available

Are you using "city" as synonymous with "metro area"? Or are you looking for the shapes of cities in given metro areas? The Census Bureau offers a cross reference of principal cities of CBSAs as an Excel file. It would be fairly labor intensive to retrieve the city boundaries for each of those (~1250 cities).

Are you trying to compare data between CBSAs, NECTAs, and Metropolitan divisions? Proceed with caution. Metropolitan divisions are a subset of CBSAs. NECTAs are geographic agglomerations similar to CBSAs, but a NECTA is defined as a list of cities/towns while a CBSA is defined as a list of counties.

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