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Census Data for Roanoke

Population ...

The most recent Census Estimate<1> was for 2019 and it gave Roanoke a population of 99,216 people.

The last Decennial Census<2> was in 2010, which gave Roanoke a population of 97,032 people.

The 2010 Census gave Virginia had a population of 8,001,024 people, meaning that Roanoke had 1.21% of the total population of Virginia - making it the state's 9th most populous community.

Area ...

The 2010 Census shows that the sampling area for Roanoke has a total area of 42.9 square miles [111.1 km²]. Of this total, a small amount of the area is covered by water (0.34 square miles [0.9 km²]).

  • Continue Reading ...
    • When the Census Bureau conducts a census for a city like Roanoke, they draw a boundary around the area in which they are going to conduct their count - this defines the sampling area (usually a polygon). The shape of the sampling area can be quite complex and it's important to keep in mind that the boundaries of the sampling area may or may not match the recognized boundaries of the city.
    • Things like population, area and housing for Roanoke reflect the sampling area. Since the shape of the sampling area and the actual boundaries of Roanoke might be different, it's best to check with the U.S. Census Bureau to resolve any difference between the two.
    • Not only does the sampling area define boundaries, it also has a GPS location (latitude & longitude) that indicates a point within the sampling area (usually the center of the polygon, known as the centroid). At the time of the 2010 Census, the sampling area was located at:
    • Lat:   37° 16' 40"   (or 37.28°)
    • Lon:   -79° 57' 30"   (or -79.96°)
    • More information on this topic and the changes between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census can be found in the section for our Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Housing Units ...

At the time of the 2010 Census, Roanoke had 47,453 Housing Units<3> and with its population of 97,032 people, this averages 2.04 people per Housing Unit.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • The 2010 Census shows Roanoke had a land area of 42.56 square miles [110.2 km²]. This translates to 1,106 Housing Units per square mile [427 housing units/km²].
    • From the Census of 2000: Roanoke had 45,257 Housing Units, a population of 94,911 people and a land area of 42.88 square miles [111.1 km²]. This gives a density of 2.1 people per Housing Unit and 1,054 Housing Units per square mile [407.2 housing units/km²].
    • Note: Repeating the caution above (under Population Density), be aware that when comparing Housing Units between the 2010 Census and the 2000 Census, there were changes in the sampling area for Roanoke and you need to be careful when comparing values between the censuses. More information about the nature of these the changes can be found in the section called Census-to-Census Observations ... (see below).

Census-to-Census Observations ...

Introduction ...

When the Census Bureau takes a census count (or enumeration) for Roanoke, they start by specifying the boundaries of the area to be counted. This area (or sampling area) is a polygon and its shape can be quite complex - it may or may not match the geographical boundaries of Roanoke. It's important to note that from one Census to the next, the shape and location of the polygon can change.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • Although we don't have specific information about the shape of the polygon for Roanoke or how it changed has over time, there is some information that can give us some hints. For example, since the shape of the sampling area is directly related to the shape of the polygon, any change to area probably indicates a new shape for the polygon.
    • If you need precision or details about the methodology of the Census, you should visit the U.S. Census Bureau for a definitive answer.

Location ...

While generally coinciding with the GPS location (latitude/longitude) of Roanoke, the latitude and longitude given by the Census Bureau actually indicates the GPS location of the polygon for Roanoke.

  • Continue Reading ...
    • For the 2010 Census, the location was given as:
    • Lat:   37.277830°   (or 37°16'40" N)
    • Lon:   -79.958472°   (or -79°57'30" W)
    • For the 2000 Census, the location given was:
    • Lat:   37.276895°   (or 37°16'36" N)
    • Lon:   -79.955711°   (or -79°57'20" W)
    • The difference indicates that the U.S. Census Bureau moved the location of the polygon for the 2010 Census 870 feet to the northwest<4> of the location that was used in the 2000 Census.
    • The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) have assigned a unique GNIS identifier (#1498439) to Roanoke. This identifier also marks a GPS point on the map, and that point lies within the boundaries of Roanoke. The GNIS point has been mapped to the latitude/longitude:
    • Lat:   37.270970°   (or 37°16'15" N)
    • Lon:   -79.941427°   (or -79°56'29" W)
    • The GPS location given for the 2010 Census lies 5,541 feet to the northwest<5> of the point given by the GNIS for Roanoke. For more information about this and the relationship of the various Federal Codes, please visit our Misc Page for Roanoke.

Miscellaneous Information for Roanoke ...

The Federal government has assigned various identifying codes to each community, county and state. At one time or another, the US Census Bureau has used one (or more) of the following identifiers when referring to either or the city of Roanoke:

  • The GNIS Codes ...
    • The current system of identification is called the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). The following GNIS codes relate to Roanoke:
    • GNIS ID for Roanoke: 1498439
    • GNIS ID for State of Virginia: 1779803
  • The FIPS Codes ...
    • An earlier (and largely obsolete) identification method was called the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS):
    • State Code: 51 (Virginia)
    • Place Code: 68000 (Roanoke)
    • State & Place Code: 51/68000 (Virginia / Roanoke)
  • Misc. Census Codes ...
    • Roanoke is located in Census Region #3 (the South Region) and Division #5 (the South Atlantic Division).

For more information about the various Federal identification codes, please visit our Misc Page for Roanoke.

The official website for Roanoke:

The official website for State of Virginia:

The official website of the U.S. Census Bureau

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

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

Footnotes ...

<1>Every year, the US Census Bureau creates a population estimate for the preceeding year. Keep in mind that this value is an estimate and not an actual count. The most recent Census estimate is for the year 2019.
<2>Every 10 years (eg- 1990, 2000, 2010), the US Census Bureau conducts a Constitutionally-mandated count (or enumeration) of people living within the United States. This count is called a Decennial Census. The last Decennial Census was the 2010 Census, with the next one planned for 2020.
<3>A Housing Unit is a broad term for those places where people live (whether occupied or temporarily vacant), such as a house, an apartment, a mobile home, or an area that is considered as a separate living quarter. Separate living quarters (consisting of one or more rooms) are considered to be those places where people live, sleep and eat separately from others and that have access to the outside (either directly or by a shared hallway).
<4>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the 2010 Census location is 66 degrees and a distance of 870 feet.
<5>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the GNIS point is 63 degrees and a distance of 5,541 feet.


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This page was last modified/updated: 07 Apr 2024