NeighborhoodScout® uses the official government designation for neighborhoods - the census tract. 


Census tracts are small, relatively permanent subdivisions of a county that are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau in conjunction with local authorities all across the country to define real neighborhoods that are bounded to contain areas with homogeneous population characteristics (including economic status, lifestyle, and living conditions). Census tracts usually have 4,000 persons, but can range between 1,500 and 8,000 persons. This is the most fine-grained area for which detailed information is made available from the government, to protect the individual privacy of each of us.


Because census tracts are based on population, they vary in size depending on the density of settlement. In urban areas, they are small, and in rural areas they can cover an entire small town or even a few small towns in very rural areas. 


Since census tracts are subdivisions of a county, we did a spatial overlay of the census tracts onto city and town boundaries using a geographic information system to properly assign each census tract to its appropriate city or town. Then we named each census tract to the local colloquially recognized neighborhood name for that spot (e.g., Boston, MA (Dorchester). If there was not a name available, we named the census tract by the largest street intersection in the census tract (e.g., Worcester, MA (Belmont Hill / Shrewsbury Street).