Confluence Retirement

In an effort to consolidate USGS hosted Wikis, the myUSGS Confluence service is targeted for retirement on January 28, 2022. The official USGS Wiki and collaboration space is now SharePoint. Please migrate existing spaces and content to the SharePoint platform and remove it from Confluence at your earliest convenience. If you need any additional information or have any concerns about this change, please contact myusgs@usgs.gov. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
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titleCity Hall / Town Hall


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titleThe Guidelines define a City Hall / Town Hall as follows:
typesuccess

A building or building complex that serves as the primary location for a local or municipal government's administrative functions.

INCLUDES: City Halls, Town Halls, Village Halls, Municipal Buildings, Municipal Centers, and City Buildings.

DOES NOT INCLUDE: County, state, or federal level administration buildings; historical buildings that are no longer used for government administration.


What is a City Hall / Town Hall? 

A City / Town Hall is the primary administrative building of a township or municipal government. City and town halls are usually associated with incorporated places in the U.S.  Incorporated places are a legally defined entity and may be called city, borough, town, or village (depending on the state). There are over 19,000 incorporated places in the U.S. as per the Census Bureau's Boundary and Annexation Survey (BAS). There are no incorporated places in Hawaii or Puerto Rico.

City and town halls mainly house the mayor and the city/town council, as well as assorted local government departments often including, but not limited to: the municipal court, the city clerk, the city manager, or the local police department (in smaller towns). Please note that this feature class does not include county, state, or federal level administration buildings.

Where can I find authoritative lists of City / Town Hall structures? There are no authoritative lists of City / Town Hall structures. The best way to confirm a City / Town Hall structure is to research the official website of the city, village, or township.

The closest thing to a national list may be a list of cities and townships on Wikipedia.com, however these only include a small portion of the country’s cities and townships. When using lists like these, it is important to verify each City / Town Hall with an authoritative source.

Sometimes a state government website or a search for a list of city halls for a specific state will yield a list of municipalities to review for city and town hall locations. Some states have municipal league organizations which may be informative. Many states now have on-line maps which may offer municipal locations.

Check out our Authoritative Sources List for more on the types of sources that are acceptable.


Where do I place a City / Town Hall structure point?

Most municipalities or townships have one central city or town hall building. If this is the case, place the point at the center of the building.

Some municipalities may have a municipal “campus” of buildings with administrative offices; others may have individual buildings that are geographically distributed throughout the city. It is important to note that we are not collecting the location of individual city departments. We are only collecting the primary city/town hall (i.e., typically the building that houses the city council and/or mayor’s office). Place the point at the center of this building.

Multiple incorporated places may share a building for their government functions. If so, add a point for each city/town hall. An example of this is the Rye Town Office which occupies space on the Third Floor of the Port Chester Village Hall in Port Chester, NY.

For more information on how to identify a City / Town Hall, check out the “Aerial Photo Interpretation Part 8: City/Town Halls” article in our November 2018 Newsletter.


How do I name a City / Town Hall?

Similar to courthouses, try to determine the name of the building when editing City / Town Hall structures. Common terminology for building names may include City Hall, Town Hall, Village Hall, Municipal Building, Municipal Center, and City Building among others. Contact information on government websites usually includes the building name with the address. Examples include Denver’s City and County Building which houses Denver’s city council, or Cedar Rapids’ City Hall which houses the city manager:



  

Our Name and Address Formatting Guide has a few additional examples of how to properly format a name for this structure type.


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titleCourthouses


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titleThe Guidelines define Courthouses as follows:
typesuccess

A building in which county-level judicial courts (or courts of law) are regularly held.

INCLUDES: Courthouses that contain an active courtroom for the highest court in the county.

DOES NOT INCLUDE: Federal or state level courts (e.g., courts of appeals), tribal courts, courthouses operating at the municipal and/or township level, individual court systems within a building (e.g., probate courts, juvenile courts, family courts, bankruptcy courts), historical courthouse buildings that are no longer used for court functions.


What is a County Courthouse?

Our User Guide describes a County Courthouse as the primary building out of which the highest court in the county operates. County courthouses must contain an active courtroom.    

Additional characteristics of a County Courthouse may include the building being open to the public, a county judge operating out of that building, as well as the county clerk having an office in the building.  

Please note that this feature class does not include county administration buildings.Nor does it include city/municipal, appellate, or federal level courthouses. 

Where can I find authoritative lists of County Courthouses? Most states maintain a state judiciary website (e.g., Colorado’s Judicial Branch website) that describes the state’s court system. Such websites usually include a web-page that lists all of the courts throughout the state. County websites also frequently have information about the county court system along with directions to the courthouse for jurors.  

Another helpful resource is the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). NCSC provides links to state judiciary websites while also providing a “Court Structure Chart” that visually depicts the state’s court hierarchy. These structure charts are especially helpful for identifying which type of court is the highest county-level court. Each structure chart includes links to the state’s judiciary website.  

Courtreference.com is another helpful website that lists all the courts by county in each state.  

Check out our Authoritative Sources List for more on the types of sources that are acceptable.

Where do I place a County Courthouse structure point?
Most counties have one primary courthouse. The point should be placed at the center of this building.  
Larger counties may have a judicial “campus” that consists of buildings and houses other structures such as the county sheriff’s office or the county jail. Among these, you may be able to tell which building contains the courtroom from Google Street View™, from an online facility map, or by examining the photo of the building entrance on its webpage and comparing this to the building footprint in the satellite image. If this is the case, place the point on the building which contains the courtroom for the highest level county court.

There are also instances where the county court system is dispersed into multiple buildings across the region, resulting in multiple courtrooms. In these instances, if there are multiple locations that contain a courtroom for the highest level county court, then each location should be captured by a county courthouse point.  An example would be 15th Judicial Circuit Court in Palm Beach County, Florida. The circuit court is the highest level county court in Florida, and 15th Judicial Circuit Court lists multiple courthouses (e.g., Judge Daniel T K Hurley Courthouse, Palm Beach Criminal Justice Complex, Palm Beach North County Courthouse, Palm Beach South County Courthouse, and Palm Beach West County Courthouse), all of which are located in Palm Beach County, Florida.


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It is important to note that we are not collecting the location of individual court systems. We are only collecting the building that houses the courtroom(s) for the highest level county court.How do I name a County Courthouse?When naming a courthouse, try to determine the name of the building. Contact information on government websites usually includes the building name with the address. An example would be Michigan’s Lenawee County Circuit Court located in the “Rex B Martin Judicial Building.”


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Our Name and Address Formatting Guidelines document has a few examples of how to properly format a name for this structure type. Our User Guide also provides a thorough walkthrough of the courthouse naming process.