What is a Census Designated Place?
A Census Designated Place (CDP) is a geographic boundary recognized by the US Census for statistical purposes. Sometimes CDPs are locally recognized as towns, villages, or neighborhoods while other times people can live in them and not even know they exist. The official boundary recognized by the US government for the area might be slightly different from the locally perceived boundary, which means the data that is collected is also collected in a different way. It is rare that a CDP does not align with the publicly recognized boundaries, but it does happen from time to time. Niche is working to find better ways to display the data for CDPs so they are a little less confusing.
Why do Census Designated Places exist?
There are many reasons why the US Census will designate a place as a CDP. One of the most common reasons is to account for population density differences. CDPs will often have a higher population density than the other surrounding areas. CDPs are also helpful to collect Census data on formally incorporated towns that might have later become disincorporated or annexed by an abuting town.
You can learn more about CDPs and official government designated geographic boundaries by visiting the US Federal Register website.