A Gazetteer for the United States and Canada

Decatur, Alabama

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The location of Decatur

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and the surrounding area.

Various Identification Codes ...

GNIS Codes ...

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) was created to address the problems caused by spelling and naming variations. The BGN will usually recognize an existing name or, when necessary, chose a name for a geographic feature (such as a mountain, lake, river, stream, city, town, village, dam, bridge, etc).

The BGN names are kept in a database called the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) and it is the official Federal repository. The GNIS is operated and maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

A unique and permanent identification number has been assigned for each name in the GNIS database. These names and identifiers are definitive and it is intended that they are to be used by all departments of the Federal Government:

GNIS ID for Decatur: 2404206

GNIS ID for Morgan County: 161578

GNIS ID for Alabama: 1779775

FIPS Codes ...

In a past effort, various federal agencies worked together to create a set of codes with a purpose similar to the GNIS codes. These codes are called the Federal Information Processing Standard (or the FIPS 55 codes). Although they are still used by some organizations, the FIPS codes are obsolete and will ultimately be replaced by the GNIS codes.

The following FIPS codes apply to Decatur:

Place (Community) Code:  20104
State Code:  01 (Alabama)
County Code:  103 (Morgan County)

Since the Place and County FIPS codes are not unique and can be repeated in other States, it's necessary to combine the State code with the Place and County FIPS codes to uniquely identify them - for example:

State/Place Code:  01/20104
State/County Code:  01/103

As already mentioned, the FIPS codes are to be replaced by the GNIS codes. The following reflect those changes:

 FIPS Code   translates to   GNIS Code
State of Alabama:    01   1779775
Morgan County:    01/103   161578
Decatur:    01/20104   2404206

GPS Location - GNIS vs Census ...

An important aspect of the GNIS code is that it assigns a GPS location (the latitude/longitude) to the geographic feature. This location is simply a point on the map and does not represent the size or shape of the feature. In the case of Decatur, it is a point within Decatur that might be a post office, the city hall or simply an intersection - the point should really be considered arbitrary and only indicating a general location.

For Decatur, the GNIS GPS location is given as:

Lat:   34° 34' 24"   (or 34.57°)

Lon:   -86° 59' 29"   (or -86.99°)   [Map]

Determined by its statistical needs, the Census Bureau has defined a sampling area for Decatur - this area also contains a map point. As with the GNIS code, the location of the Census point should be considered as being arbitrary within the sampling area.

For Decatur, the Census 2010 GPS location is given as:

Lat:   34° 34' 22"   (or 34.57°)

Lon:   -86° 59' 30"   (or -86.99°)   [Map]

The map point defined by the Census Bureau lies 110 feet to the south<1> of the point given by the GNIS (see above).

You might note that the GPS location given for the 2010 Census is different than the location that was specified by the 2000 Census:

Lat:   34° 34' 51"   (or 34.58°)

Lon:   -86° 59' 0"   (or -86.98°)   [Map]

The GPS location given for the 2000 Census lies 3,821 feet to the northeast<2> of the point given by the 2010 Census.

Regional Codes ...

For statistical purposes, the US Census Bureau has divided the country into four Regions. Decatur is located in Region #3 (the South Region).

In turn, the US Census Bureau has further divided each Region into Divisions. Decatur is located in Division #6 (the East South-Central Division).

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has created ten Federal Regions. Decatur is located in Region IV (Region 4).

ZIP Codes ...

While some people have used ZIP codes to identify a community, the ZIP codes were actually created to make mail delivery more efficient by grouping addresses together. Although a ZIP Code doesn't specifically identify a city like Decatur, they do identify addresses that are in (or near) the city. It's important to remember that the boundaries of a ZIP Code are defined by the needs of the USPS and can be changed, re-assigned or overlapped with other ZIP Codes.

Our list of ZIP codes for Decatur : 35601, 35602, 35609 & 35699.<3>

Referenced GNIS Records ...

GNIS ID #117185   (Name of Record: Decatur)

Class: populated place

A place or area having clustered or scattered buildings and a permanent population (such as a city, settlement, town or village). The boundaries may or may not coincide with the perceived population.

A 'populated place' record may have a corresponding 'census' or 'civil' record. The information contained in the 'populated place' record applies only to the class and should not be confused with either the 'census' and 'civil' classes.

County: Morgan

Map Name: Decatur

Lat: 34.6059254       Lon: -86.9833417   [Map]

Elev: 171 ft.

GNIS ID #139689   (Name of Record: Albany)

Class: populated place

County: Morgan

Map Name: Decatur

Lat: 34.5967589       Lon: -86.9655633   [Map]

Elev: 173 ft.

GNIS ID #2404206   (Name of Record: City of Decatur)

Class: civil

A political division formed for administrative purposes (such as a borough, county, incorporated place, parish, town or township).

A 'civil' record may have a corresponding 'census' or 'populated place' record. The information contained in the 'civil' record applies only to the class and should not be confused with either the 'census' and 'populated place' classes.

County: Morgan

Map Name: Decatur

Lat: 34.5733344       Lon: -86.991607   [Map]

Elev: 181 ft.

Referenced FIPS Records ...

FIPS Code: 01/20104   (Place Name: Decatur)

County: Limestone     (FIPS State/County: 01/083      Count/Seq: 02/01)

Class: C1

Identifies an incorporated place (ie- Decatur) that does not serve as a primary county division - or in other words, it is included in and is part of a primary county division (ie- Morgan County).

GSA Code: 890

MRF Code: 480

MSA Code: 3440

Other Roadside Stops ...

Find a Community located in Alabama

About Morgan County

About Alabama

Off-the-Road Links ...

The official website of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN)

The official website of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

The official website of the U.S. Census Bureau

The official website for Decatur: www.digitaldecatur.com/

The official website for Morgan County: www.co.morgan.al.us/

The official website for State of Alabama: www.alabama.gov/

Footnotes ...

<1>The calculated bearing (or the angle) to the GNIS-supplied location is 167 degrees.

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<2>The calculated bearing (or the angle) to the 2000 Census location is 319 degrees.

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<3>When looking for a ZIP Code, whether Decatur or elsewhere, it's always best to check the website of the United States Postal Service (USPS).

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For additional information, please visit our Glossary for Decatur.