How can you find census data for your neighborhood when the Census Bureau doesn't record data for "neighborhoods"?
The answer is to find data for the census tracts that compose your neighborhood.
Census tracts are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as "small, relatively permanent statistical subdivisions of a county or equivalent entity that are updated by local participants prior to each decennial census as part of the Census Bureau's Participant Statistical Areas Program."
Census tracts vary in size from 1,200 to 8,000 people-- with an optimal size of 4,000. Although they are "relatively permanent", the boundaries and numbers of census tracts may change from one census to another.
Image of Pittsburgh census tracts showing population density in 2010 from the Social Explorer database.
At Pitt we have various resources that can be used for finding census tract data and maps.
To find census tract numbers for Pittsburgh area neighborhoods and communities, see the Allegheny County Census Tracts, 2000-2020 and the Pittsburgh Census Tracts, 1940-2020 pages of this guide.
The idea of census tracts dates back to 1906, when Dr. Walter Laidlaw, director of the Population Research Bureau of the New York Federation of Churches, published an article proposing the use of small geographic areas as a method of studying neighborhoods in New York City.
In 1909, Laidlaw persuaded the Census Office to adopt the concept, and to extend the plan of tract tabulations to the seven other cities with a population of 500,000 or more: Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.
The Census Bureau finally adopted the census tract as an official geographic entity to be included in data tables of the standard publications of the decennial census in 1940.
(from the Census Bureau)