A Gazetteer for the United States and Canada

Tacoma, Washington

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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 code 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 Tacoma: 2412025

GNIS ID for Pierce County: 1529159

GNIS ID for Washington: 1779804

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 Tacoma:

Place (Community) Code:  70000
State Code:  53 (Washington)
County Code:  053 (Pierce 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:  53/70000
State/County Code:  53/053

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 Washington:    53   1779804
Pierce County:    53/053   1529159
Tacoma:    53/70000   2412025

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 Tacoma, it is a point within Tacoma 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 Tacoma, the GNIS GPS location is given as:

Lat:   47° 15' 6"   (or 47.25°)

Lon:   -122° 27' 33"   (or -122.46°)   [Map]

Determined by its statistical needs, the Census Bureau has defined a sampling area for Tacoma - 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 Tacoma, the Census 2010 GPS location is given as:

Lat:   47° 15' 7"   (or 47.25°)

Lon:   -122° 27' 35"   (or -122.46°)   [Map]

The map point defined by the Census Bureau lies 201 feet to the northwest<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:   47° 14' 28"   (or 47.24°)

Lon:   -122° 27' 33"   (or -122.46°)   [Map]

The GPS location given for the 2000 Census lies 3,949 feet to the south<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. Tacoma is located in Region #4 (the West Region).

In turn, the US Census Bureau has further divided each Region into Divisions. Tacoma is located in Division #9 (the Pacific Division).

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has created ten Federal Regions. Tacoma is located in Region X (Region 10).

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has created ten Management Regions. Tacoma is located in Region X (Region 10).

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 Tacoma, 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 Tacoma :

98401, 98402, 98403, 98404, 98405, 98406, 98407, 98408, 98411, 98412, 98415, 98416, 98417, 98418, 98421, 98424, 98430, 98433, 98438, 98443, 98444, 98445, 98446, 98447, 98464, 98465, 98466, 98471, 98481, 98490, 98493, 98496, 98497, 98498 & 98499.<3>

Referenced GNIS Records ...

GNIS ID #1512713   (Name of Record: Tacoma)

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: Pierce

Map Name: Tacoma North

Lat: 47.2528769       Lon: -122.4442906   [Map]

Elev: 75 ft.

GNIS ID #2412025   (Name of Record: City of Tacoma)

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: Pierce

Map Name: Tacoma North

Lat: 47.251741       Lon: -122.45938   [Map]

Elev: 117 ft.

Referenced FIPS Records ...

FIPS Code: 53/70000   (Place Name: Tacoma)

County: Pierce     (FIPS State/County: 53/053)

Class: C1

Identifies an incorporated place (ie- Tacoma) 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- Pierce County).

GSA Code: 2230

MRF Code: 1280

MSA Code: 8200

Other Roadside Stops ...

Find a Community located in Washington

About Pierce County

About Washington

Off-the-Road Links ...

The official website for Tacoma:

The official website for Pierce County:

The official website for State of Washington:

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 of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

The official website of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Footnotes ...

<1>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the GNIS-supplied location is 33 degrees and a distance of 201 feet.

- Return to Citation

<2>The calculated bearing (or angle) to the 2000 Census location is 181 degrees and a distance of 3,949 feet.

- Return to Citation

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

- Return to Citation


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This page was last modified: 13 Nov 2018
By John Hall