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U. S. City Resources

Background Information


Cities of the United States
. 4v. 1998

  • Regional arrangement of U.S. cities. Includes a map, selected statistics, and current information on economic, cultural, geographic, and social conditions, and a selected bibliography for each city covered.

Encyclopedia of Urban Studies. 2010

  • Articles cover a wide range of areas including urban culture, economics, geography, history, issues, planning, politics, and transportation

Encyclopedia of American Urban History. 2006

  • Search for articles on cities and city issues

The Almanac of American Politics: The Senators, the Representatives and the Governors: Their records and election results, their states and districts
1974- [biennial] Latest also avialable in print on Reserves.
Other recent print volumes available in Reference stacks.

Overview of the year in politics regionally and for each state, including members' performances, stands on issues, voting records, interest group ratings.


Congressional Districts in the 2000s: A Portrait of America
. 2003

Descriptions of the political climate at Congressional District level. Information on demographic composition, economic status, business operations, media, Presidential vote, and more for 435 districts. Includes maps.
Note: Separate volumes for the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s are also available.

Towson/USMAI Catalog

Don't forget to search the catalog for BOOKS about your city. Change the search from word/s anywhere to subject word/s and type the name of your city. Another strategy is to change the search to subject beginning with and type the name of your city and the first letter of the state in which it is located. Some examples: portland o, saint louis m, gary i. Add words like education, african american*, politic*, econom*, development


Congressional District Maps

  • Provides prinatable maps of Congressional Districts for the United States and its territories

Perry-Castaņeda Library Map Collection
(UT at Austin)

Cities and Towns Maps Home Page
(American Memory Project, Library of Congress)

"[Historic]maps that depict individual buildings to panoramic views of large urban areas. These maps record the evolution of cities illustrating the development and nature of economic activities, educational and religious facilities, parks, street patterns and widths, and transportation systems." --From Web site--
Most maps range from 1880 - 1900.

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  Statistical Profiles

American FactFinder
. [US Census]

  • Look in Community Facts for basic demographic, social, and economic information on a city
    • Type in the name of your city, followed by the word city and search (For example: providence city; st. louis city)
  • To find Narrative Profile with charts/graphs of statistical information for a particular city take the following steps:
    • Click on Advanced Search > Show Me All
    • In the Topics list, select Product Type
    • Select Narrative Profile with charts/graphs of statistical information

State & County Quick Facts

  • Check here for basic statistics on a city, as compared to the state in which it is located
  • Choose appropriate state, then select a city
  • Click on Browse data sets for the name of your selected city
    • This is another way to access the social, economic, demographic, and housing characteristics from the American Community Survey or Demographic Profile of 2010 Census

Population of the 100 Largest Cities and Other Urban Places in the United States: 1790 to 1990

Cities with 100,000 or More Population for 2000

Cities with 100,000 or More Population for 2010 [on Wikipedia, as compiled from the U.S. Census - Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 through American FactFinder]



  • Collection of data from various statistical sources including the Census and others in the form of maps, charts, graphs, and tables
  • Note that the source of data is not always indicated and this website has a disclaimer that it does not guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of the information presented

State of Cities Data Systems

  • Links to federal data sets that include statistics on metropolitan areas.
  • Includes census, employment, county business patterns, crime, public finance, building permits, and housing affordability (CHAS) data.
  • Use Quick Link for access to all datasets by city. Select a state, then your city, to access longitudinal data on a city for the 3-4 current decades. This is a good place to easily track changes in your city for the topics listed above.
  • Compare data from 1997 to 2010 at FBI Crime Data

County & City Data Book: 2007

  • Includes basic data for cities of 25,000 or more and maps of metro areas by state.
  • For cities of over 100,000, additional data on: populations by age and sex, race and Hispanic origin; households; education; income and poverty; and owner-renter occupied housing and vehicles available
  • This publication will no longer be published due to budget cuts. See http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/ for further information


County & City Extra: Annual Metro, City, and County Data Book. 2007

  • Includes social, economic, and political data for cities as current as 1999
  • This publication will no longer be published due to budget cuts. See http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/ for further information

State and Metropolitan Area Data Book: 2010


2007 Census of Governments. [US Census]

  • Data on government organization, public employment, and government finance at the state and local level.

America's Top-Rated Cities 2010: A Statistical Handbook

  • "Provides current, comprehensive statistical information, and other essential data, on the top 100 cities that have been cited as the best for business and living in the United States" - from the publisher

Community Sourcebook of Zip Code Demographics. Latest on Reserve.

  • "Presents census data arranged by zip codes and the name of the state, to create a detailed compendium of statistical data on consumer markets."
  • Especially useful for marketing research.

Cities Ranked & Rated. 2007

  • Comparative analysis of 400 metropolian areas in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Rankings cover such topics as economy & jobs, cost of living, transportation, education, crime, and health care.

Lifestyle Market Analyst. [SDRS] Latest on Reserve.
"A reference guide for consumer market analysis."

  City Issues

U.S. Conference of Mayors

  • Use the search engine to look for information regarding legislation, city programs, and best practices by topic or by city name
  • Includes news, reports, and videos

National League of Cities

  • Use the search box to search by city for reports of projects and programs

Metropolitan Policy Program [Brookings Institute]

  • Analysis of city issues from an economic point of view, with an emphasis on the impact of federal policies.
  • See State of Metropolitan America, consisting of various reports that look at economic and social trends in cities and their implication for formation of public policy
    • Issues covered include: population & migration; race & ethnicity; immigration; age; families; educational attainment; work; poverty & income; and commuting
    • Review data sources for metropolitan areas
  • MetroMonitor Series tracks 100 metropolitan area economies quarterly reviewing employment, output, and housing

The Urban Institute: A Nonpartisan Economic and Social Policy Research Organization

  • Access to research reports and data on cities and metropolitan regions include Arts and Culture, Community Building, Development, Crime Prevention Efforts, Federal Urban Policies, Job Opportunities, Mobility, and Transportation.
  • Visit MetroTrends, which provides latest information on social and economic trends in America's cities, including indicators on crime, employment growth, housing, earnings, immigration & diversity, and well-being of children

National Urban League

  • Publishes State of Black America each year.
  • Available in print only:E185.5 N317. Latest kept in Reference.
  • Recent themes include: Occupy the Vote (2012); Jobs (2011; 2010); Message to the President (2009); In the Black Woman's Voice (2008); Portrait of the Black Male (2007)

Encyclopedia of Urban Studies

  • Part of Sage Knowledge , which provides electronic access to many encyclopedias which might have articles on cities and issues in cities
  • Visit the Reader's Guide for the encyclopedia, which lists themes covered

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Encyclopedia of Urban America: The Cities and Suburbs
. 2v. 1998

  • Focuses on 20th century urban issues in United States including politics, public policy, economy, education, and culture.
  • Presented from a multidisciplinary perspective. Includes articles on people influential in urban development and some major cities.

Encyclopedia of the City. 2005

  • Also available in Reference stacks on the main floor of Cook Library: Ref HT108.5 E63 2005
  • Articles on concepts and people related to cities. Biographical articles include a list of key works. Most articles are accompanied by a list of two - four items for further reading.

Encyclopedia of Community: From the Village to the Virtural World. 2003

  • Part of Sage Knowledge, which provides electronic access to many encyclopedias which might have articles on cities and issues in cities
  • Also available in Reference stacks on the main floor of Cook Library: Ref HM756 E53 2003
  • Articles covering all aspects of community that fall into broad topics such as activism and social transformation, community design, community economics, and urban and suburban life. Each article is written by a scholar in the field and accompanied by a list of readings.

Key Concepts in Urban Studies. 2005

  • Articles on terms from Urban Sociology & Urban Studies, Urban Planning, and Urban Geography such as environmental concerns, gentrification, ghetto, homelessness, housing, inequality and poverty, informal economy, neighborhood, planning, preservation, slums, sprawl, uneven development and urban politics.

Encyclopedia of American Urban History. 2007

  • Part of Sage Knowledge, which provides electronic access to many encyclopedias which might have articles on cities and issues in cities
  • Also available in Reference stacks on the main floor of Cook Library: Ref HT123 E49 2007
  • Historical focus providing background information on urban issues
  • Includes biographies and articles on cities, including topics such as: doctrines, actions, movements, and religions; community development block grants; commuting; education and schools; finances and commerce; gentrification; housing, race; theories; transportation; and women.

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Urban Politics Dictionary. 1990

Municipal Year Book. [International City/County Management Association] 1944-

  • Five sections including management issues and trends, intergovernmental relations, staffing and compensation, directories, and references.
  • Includes salaries of municipal and county officials, fire and police personnel.
  • Articles on state/local relations and Congressional legislation and Supreme Court cases affecting local government.

Encyclopedia of Housing. 1998

  • Presents many topics directly related to the urban environment.
  • Appendix includes a list of legislation and executive orders authorizing HUD programs.

Homeland Security Digital Library [HSDL]

  • Provides full text access to documents on security and related issues such as civil rights, policing, crime, gangs, and transit.
City Crime Rankings. 2000-

State and Local Government on the Net

  • Web directory of links to resources on state and local government, federal resources, multi-state sites, and national organizations.

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  Smart Growth

Smart Growth Online

Network of organizations and government entities that promotes smart growth best practices through education and policy development. Interests include quality of life, design, economics, environment, health, housing, and transportation.


Sustainable Cites Institute [National League of Cities]

  • Deals with topics such as general sustainability, land use, transportation, buildings, energy, water, green infrastructure, economic development, and community engagement
  • Includes case studies, city profiles, model policies & legislation, and reports & guides
  • Some of the cities profiled include: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, and Seattle

Finding useful information about a city's education on a city website varies by city.

  • Search Google, typing the name of your city and schools or education (e.g. boston schools, boston education).
  • In addition, search at the state level, as this is where policy regarding education is often developed.
  • Search typing the name of your city's state and education (e.g. california education).
  • Also, determine the county in which your city is located, as a county is a possible source of information.

National Center for Education Statistics

  • Provides statistical information from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Focus is on the federal and state levels.

Council of the Great City Schools: The Nation's Voice for Urban Education

  • Search the site by city name.

Consortium for Policy Research in Education [UPenn Graduate School of Education]

  • Full text access to publications on education policy, governance, finance, and school reform.

Education Week

Information on education at federal, state and local levels. You will need to create an account to access some of the content on this site.

  • Find links to statistics, reports, and articles about education in each state.
  • Hang over TOPICS in the menu bar to find information on topics such as desegregation, home schooling, digital divide, school fincance, and standards.
  • Each issue of the Special Reports Series, Quality Counts, published annually, focuses on a timely issue and includes a "report card" for each state back to 1997.
  • Use the search engine to look for articles on a particular city in back issues of Education Week.

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  Research Databases available online through Cook Library

Note: Use Cook OneSearch or any or all of the following Ebsco databases can be searched simultaneously.

  • To search more than one Ebsco database at a time, select one of them (e.g. Academic Search). Once you are in the search screen for that database, click on Choose databases and select the others (e.g. Social Sciences Abstracts, MasterFILE Premier, Business Source Premier) that you want to search.
  • Begin your search by combining Academic Search, Business Source, MasterFILE and Social Sciences Abstracts. Add SocINDEX to your search if you are researching a social issue such as crime or poverty.
  • Note: Spell out cities that begin with abbreviations such as St. e.g. Type saint louis, NOT st louis.
  • To get a feel for general issues in a city and also to identify some potential search terms for more specific searching, go to Advanced Search screen and try a general search by typing your city's name as [SU Subject Terms], combined with the phrase... cities or urban as [SU Subject Terms].
  • For example:
    • boston [SU Subject Terms]
    • AND
    • cities or urban [SU Subject Terms]
  • Once you have a list of results, if you want to see the most current articles first, change Relevance Sort to Date Descending Sort
  • If the city name is not unique, add the name of the state to your search (ex. durham and north carolina)
  • OR, search city name as a [SU Subject Terms] and combine with words such as crime, economic, development, housing, schools, urban renewal, politics, poverty, transit, community, roads, or words representing more specific issues
  • Limit to Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) to see the more substantial articles on your topic

Academic Search

  • Search for articles from magazines and journals in various disciplines including Political Science, Law and History.
  • More academically oriented. Search here for information on economic, political, and social issues.

Social Sciences Abstracts

  • Search for articles from magazines and journals in the social sciences.
  • Includes more journals in the social sciences than Academic Search.

Business Source Complete

  • Search for articles from magazines and journals in business.
  • Combine with words such as development, economic, finance, transportation, or words representing more specific business issues.


  • Provides general reference and information on health, business, and culture in cities
  • More oriented toward popular articles, including Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia


  • Search for articles from journals, as well as books, dissertations and conference proceedings on topics in sociology, social work, public policy, criminal justice, and anthropology.
  • Sample topics that will yield good results in this database might deal with issues such as gentrification, police, residential segregation, urban poverty, urban schools, digital divide, and gangs.

Education Research Complete

  • Search for articles from magazines, journals, and reports in Education.
  • Go to the ADVANCED SEARCH screen and combine with terms which cover your specific topic, such as desegregation, funding, reform.

Note: Most online databases index articles that have been published post-1985. To review sources published prior to 1985, check printed indexes located in the Reference area such as:

  • Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature [Ref AI3.R4]
  • Social Sciences Index [Ref AI3.S611]
Local Newspapers

LexisNexis Academic

  • For U. S. Newspapers: Click on the blue News button and select Newspapers & Wires and check off Major Newspapers or Newspapers, if you want smaller local US newspapers.
  • Provides full text of major newspapers including New York Times (1980 - ) and Washington Post (1977 - ) and also other local newspapers like the Baltimore Sun (last 6 months only), Charleston Daily Mail, Houston Press.
  • The truncation symbol in this database is !. For example, For example, senat! = senate, senate's, senatorial
  • To restrict your search to a specific time period, change All available dates to a shortened time period or specific dates.
  • Once you have a list of results, you may want to click on Sort by: Relevance to change the arrangement of results so that the "best" articles are listed first, instead of the "most current" or to Chronological, which arranges the oldest articles first.
  • For State/Local Newspapers & News Services: LexisNexis is a good place to start when looking for a local perspective on city issues that might not be covered at the national level.
  • Once in LexisNexis, click on the blue Sources button.
  • Click on Browse Sources, change All Countries to United States and then All Regions to a specfic state.
  • Below this on the web page, click on the publication type News.
  • Check the box next to a city's state News Sources (e.g. for Pittsburgh, search Pennsylvania News Sources) Click on the red box that says OK- Continue. On the resulting search screen, make sure to search the section segment - HLEAD (which means Headline & lead paragraph).
  • Type in your city's name and an issue (e.g. pittsburgh and transit)
  • To focus your search, type your words as SECTION: HLEAD (headline/lead paragraph)
    • This will limit your search to words in the headline and lead paragraph only, rather than the full text of the article


  • We have a trial to this database for a limited time, so try it while you can. It's a lot easier to use than LexisNexis and it's a good place to identify and access full text articles about city issues from local (city/state) newspapers.
  • To access news sources for a state:
    • Click on United States > then the name of a state.
    • Enter your city name and search terms and change All text to Lead/First Paragraph.
    • Search by date/s if you like, or change to other search fields as desired

National Newspapers [ProQuest]

  • Provides full text of newspapers including The Sun (Baltimore), Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.
  • To limit a search to The Sun (Baltimore), from the main search screen, click on select multiple databases next to the words News - Proquest Newspapers, deselect Proquest Newspapers, select The Sun.
  • To search multiple papers, such as The Sun (Baltimore) and the Washington Post, from the main search screen, click on the words select multiple databases. Uncheck Proquest Newspapers, check off the Washington Post and The Sun.
  • Click on Continue and type in your search topic.


  • Links on current issues on online newspapers, arranged by state.
  • Click on appropriate state to view a list of local online newspapers arranged in alphabetical order.

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The URL for this Web page is http://pages.towson.edu/sara/cities.html

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