Investigate Demographics with new Esri ZIP Code Mapping Tool

The ZIP Code mapping tool is back and better than ever for education and research!

To use, access the tool and enter the ZIP code you want to investigate.  It’s easy to do, but yet a wealth of information results.  The information includes an interactive map of the ZIP code boundaries that allows you to investigate adjacent ZIP codes. It also includes income, age, and population density data on that specific ZIP code, with comparisons of that data with the mean for the county, the state, and the entire USA.

As useful and fascinating as these statistics are, in my experience working with educators and students, it is the Lifestyle tab that generates the most interest and discussion.  The Lifestyle tab describes the tapestry segments that make up the ZIP code.  Tapestry classifies US neighborhoods into 65 market segments based on socioeconomic and demographic factors, then consolidates them into LifeMode and Urbanization Groups. This method was first used during the late 1980s with Michael Weiss’ study The Clustering of America, which I remember reading in graduate school.

In the case of 54241, Two Rivers Wisconsin, Rustbelt Traditions, Rustbelt Retirees, and Salt of the Earth make up 75% of the residents in that ZIP code.    Rustbelt Traditions are a mix of married-couple families, single parent families, and singles who live alone in older industrial states bordering the Great Lakes.  Those who are employed have service, manufacturing, and retail jobs; they hunt, fish, go to car races, country music shows, and ice hockey games.  More information is available on this and other Tapestry segments directly from the ZIP code lookup maps.

ZIP code map and data results for Two Rivers, Wisconsin

ZIP code map and data results for Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

Questions to ask when using this mapping tool in instruction include:  How closely does the ZIP code boundary match what you would consider to be your “neighborhood”?  Do you think the Tapestry segmentations accurately describe your ZIP code?  How similar or dissimilar is your household from the income, age, or Tapestry segmentations listed for your ZIP code?  Can you find an area where the Tapestry segment(s) listed encompass ALL of the residents of the ZIP code?  What does that say for diversity of your ZIP code?  What ZIP codes in your city, or in other regions, are most like the one in which you live or work?  Why?

How might you use the ZIP code mapping tool in your curriculum?

Joseph Kerski

About Joseph Kerski

Joseph Kerski is a geographer who believes that spatial analysis through digital mapping can transform education and society through better decision-making using the geographic perspective. He serves on the Esri education team and is active in GIS communication and outreach, creates GIS-based curriculum, conducts research in the effectiveness of GIS in education, teaches online and face-to-face courses on spatial thinking and analysis, and fosters partnerships to support GIS in formal and informal education at all levels, internationally. He is the co-author of Spatial Mathematics, The Essentials of the Environment, The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data, and other books. Follow him on Twitter @josephkerski
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Leave a Reply


  1. stanmasters says:

    The link for to access a sample of the tool keep timing out.

    is this part of our Org account? Or is this another service feature?


    • Joseph Kerski Joseph Kerski says:

      Hi there:

      When you say “link for to access a sample of the tool” – which tool are you referring to?
      The ZIP code mapping tools do not time out – they are freely accessible and you do not need to log in to use them.

      –Joseph Kerski

    • Joseph Kerski Joseph Kerski says:

      Stan – see my updated URL below.

      –Joseph Kerski

  2. Joseph Kerski Joseph Kerski says:


    The new ZIP Code lookup URL (August 2015) is here:

    –Joseph Kerski