Talk:County (United States)

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Corrected the history section - Massachusetts was third colony, not first, to establish counties. Virginia first founded counties in 1634, three years before Maryland and a decade before Massachusetts. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:09, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

But do you have a reliable source that can be cited for that assertion? All the literature I've seen on history of local governments agrees that Massachusetts was the first. --Coolcaesar (talk) 08:32, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Here is a link to Henrico County's official website - ( stating the county was founded in 1634. Virginia formed four "citties" in 1619 (Henrico, James City, Charles City, and Bermuda - and then reorganized them as eight shires (or counties) in 1634. Here is a link to the official site for James City County, VA (home to Jamestown, founded 1607) where they claim to be America's oldest county ( Here is another useful link ( At this site, we learn that by 1843, Virginia already had 10 counties and Maryland already had 2. This information is repeated at each county's official site and the information is available all over the web in the relevent places - in fact, its all over Wikipedia. If no counties were founded until Massachusetts in the 1640s, then the Wikipedia pages for the lists of counties in Maryland and Virginia, as well as the pages for Virginia counties Northampton, Henrico, Charles City, James City, Isle of Wight, and York, extinct Virginia counties Warwick, Elizabeth City, Norfolk, and Princess Anne, and Maryland counties of St Mary's and Kent are all wrong. But there not wrong, because they were created before 1643. This information no more needs "reliable sources" than any other undisputed or widely known date. I'm correcting it again as 1634 is clearly before 1643. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:38, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Any babbling idiot can self-publish what they like on the Web and on Wikipedia. (Thus, the famous cartoon that "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.") Do you have citations to a published BOOK or periodical article that satisfies WP:RS? Like the popular, widely used, heavily footnoted textbook on Local Government Law by Osborne Reynolds, to which I inserted a citation to in the article for the assertion that Massachusetts had counties first? --Coolcaesar (talk) 07:00, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

The sources I listed were not babbling, self-publishing idiots; they official government publications from the relevent counties. I don't really have any sources that spell out "Virginia created America's first counties in 1634" but I do know that EVERYWHERE you look that gives a date of establishment for the 6 existing and 2 extinct counties I've mentioned, the date is 1634, and since this date is obviously before the 1643 date given in sources for Massachusetts, the statement is correct. Certainly, one doesn't need a source for the fact that 1634 came before 1643. If your want a BOOK, how about this one - - from the UVA press. It lists the texts found on highway historical markers in Virginia, including this text found on markers located at many Henrico County lines (including one I pass everyday on my commute) which reads "Henrico County Z-163 An original shire formed in 1634. Named for Henrico Town, founded in 1611, which was named for Henry, Prince of Wales'." Northampton County, VA (created in 1634 as Accomack County) is home to America's oldest intact county court records to 1632 - This county also claims a founding date of 1634 on their official site. Look, I don't really care if this info is on Wikipedia at all; its nothing more to me than an interesting trivia question. But since it is there, it should be correct. I just stumbled on this page, knew that it was incorrect because I pass that sign I mention almost everyday, and corrected it. I'm not even really arguing that Henrico and the other 7 are the oldest, only that they were created in 1634, which is older than the date given for Massachusetts. If you have a date earlier than 1634 for Massachusetts, or some other state, fine; by all means cite it and move on. Since I've gotten into this the last few days, everything I've found lists the Massachusetts dates as 1643. So unless your sources either 1) disputes the authenticity of the 1634 date for Virginia or 2) proves the year 1643 came before 1634, your source is wrong. I've never read any books on the history of local government, but I know how to put dates in chronological order. I'd speculate that your sources either suffer from a bias toward New England or you have taken the statements out of context. I'm correcting it again. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:07, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

Located single source for the Virginia dates and added citation. Expanded section based on info in source. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:16, 14 July 2010 (UTC)

New Jersey[edit]

New Jersey is the only state in the union whose county officials are called freeholders. Is that of interest to this artice? Also, New Jersey counties are not as powerless as New England counties, however, many services that would be under county supervision in most states are under municipal juristiction in New Jersey. Moreover, property taxes are paid directly to the individual municipality and not to the county as in most other states. There are no unincorporated areas in NJ, every square inch of land is part of a municipality. A "township" in New Jersey is an incorporated municipality on equal grounds with any other municipality. This is not the case as in most other states a township is an unincorporated subdivision of a county.

The 5 Boroughs of New York City[edit]

It states "each borough now corresponds almost exactly to one county." ALMOST??? The five boroughs are each coterminus with their respective counties. There is no almost about it.

This is Ridiculous[edit]

I was just reading this article and found that it is in need of some very serious cleanup. Most of the relevant information is doubled and some is tripled. How many times do we need to point out that Virginia has independent cities and New York City is made up of five counties? I like that it mentions the uniqueness of these situations, but it's overdone. Phil Bastian 19:44, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Wondering how to edit this U.S. Counties entry?
The WikiProject U.S. Counties standards might help.

County seals[edit]

Please see Talk:List of Maryland counties -- I'd like someone to see if they can determine whether those seals are public domain (being on a governmental site, there's a good chance they are), and if so, we could incorporate them in our articles. -- BRG 10/10 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:16, 10 October 2002 (UTC)

What does it mean "in addition there is DC"[edit]

> In addition there is the District of Columbia

What does this mean ? That is, the fifty states plus DC is ... what ? It is most of the United States of America, but leaves out the island territories, right? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:15, 15 December 2003 (UTC)

These are the places where the residents get to vote for President. I'm not sure of our name for that; the article should use that name, whatever it is. --Jerzy(t) 19:48, 2004 May 13 (UTC)
Oh, boy - there is a real difference between being PART of the United States and merely being a territory or land that belongs to the United States. A real, real difference. THE Unites States, consists of the states that have ratified the Constitution, plus the Federal District, which happens to be the District of Columbia - but which could be changed, if the Congress and the President ever decided to do this. For example, a new Federal District could be chosen in Kansas98.67.107.70 (talk) 16:55, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

Count of counties[edit]

I changed the definition of county so it includes "city and county" entities and the five boroughs of NYC, which did not fit. (I started to edit to include Bronx, New York, Richmond, Kings, and Queens counties among "county equivs", but assumed instead that the Census Bureau calls them counties. )

I did however move DC to "county equivs", since the math and later language reflect that.

But someone, preferably whoever came up with the two 3000+ figures, should check to see whether or not the NYC boroughs and DC indeed were counted as counties, and if not, edit count of counties or total as indicated.

Finally, the article was inconsistent as to whether a "true" county is a fourth case of "county equiv". I took a guess that it is, and edited accordingly, but that should also be checked and documented on this talk.
--Jerzy(t) 19:48, 2004 May 13 (UTC)

3141 census defined county/county-equivalents
-1 DC
-42 census-defined independent cities (FIPS 55 class code C7)
-11 Alaska census areas (FIPS 55 class code H5)
=3087 counties, including 64 LA parishes and 16 AK boroughs
where does 3077 counties in first paragraph come from?
should it not be 3087 counties?

That's my question. Shouldn't someone take the bull by the horns and delete the first of the two sentences?Terry Thorgaard (talk) 16:49, 14 April 2012 (UTC)

20060725.1541.PST —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:42, 25 July 2006
Did it. Really can't be using two figures. Lacks credibility! Student7 (talk) 23:02, 19 April 2012 (UTC)


And... "Los Angeles, California is an example well known to at least one generation, from the Dragnet television series." Now, I've never seen the show but I am an Angeleno and I promise you that L.A. city and county gov'ts are different and I believe they have been that way since the beginning. Anybody know what this about? jengod 20:26, May 13, 2004 (UTC)

The Los Angeles Police Department, a.k.a LAPD, is a county-wide department, serving not only the city of Los Angeles, but most of the county as well. There headquarters in in the city, which is the county seat.
Whoever posted this information about the Los Angeles Police Department has absolutely no clue what he is talking about. The LAPD is the police department for the City of Los Angeles only. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is a county department that patrols all of the unincorporated areas of the county and about half of the cities, which contract with the sheriff's department in lieu of having their own police departments. Slyjackalope 22:11, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes, some places in LA County like Long Beach, Torrance, and Pasadena probably have their own police departments. The LA Sheriff's Department covers all unincorporated areas, and also some of the cities that have paid them for that. There is an oddly-named organization out there called the LA County Sheriff's Police - odd, because anyone who works for the Sheriff is really called a Deputy Sheriff, and a policeman works for the Chief of Police or the Mayor of a city, town, or village. At one time, well over a century ago, California only had two or three counties, and Los Angeles County covered all of what we call Southern California. The old county has been split and re-split and that area now contains Ventura County, Kern County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, Orange County, San Diego County, Imperial County, and others, as well as the present Los Angeles County, which is still pretty large in land area. As an example of re-splitting, when Riverside County was established, it received land from both San Bernardino County and San Diego County. We could also trace the origins of the others. (talk) 19:50, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
Los Angeles County encompassed all of Southern California and parts of Central Valley of California from the time of statehood (1850) to the end of the late 19th/start of 20th century. Starting from Fresno or Mono Lake down to San Luis Obispo, the original Los Angeles county was established as a special district for Spanish-speaking Californio residents of Mexican descent. The demographic changes when immigration from around the world came to California, increased population in formerly rural desert areas and finally with Santa Barbara County's foundation in the 1870s, the Los Angeles county (district) was no longer half the state and the Hispanic/Latino inhabitants were outnumbered by the large wave of Anglo American settlers in the land booms from the Civil War era (1870s and 1880s) brought by railroads, so by the 1890s when Los Angeles became a city with over 100,000 residents in the year 1900. (talk) 23:08, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

Powers of counties[edit]

Is someone an expert in how the powers of counties vary from state to state? As far as I can tell, they are of primarily historic and census interest in most of the northeast. In the southeast, they are creatures of the state, and have only such powers as the state delegates to them. (This is how the Alabama state constitution got to be so long – every time that a county wanted to have its own drainage district or issue bonds the state constitution would up being amended to accomodate it since otherwise the county would have no authority to do so, which seems a particulary poor way to govern.) Is the rest of the country like the southeast, where counties have little "soverignty" and mostly are just units of the state? Or is there more of the element of "home rule" to counties elsewhere in the country? Rlquall 14:24, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

There is another fact about Alabama's quare and covoluted way of doing things: of its 67 counties, eight of the more populated ones have been granted Home Rule by the Legislature, and they can do lots more on their own authority that the remaining 59 counties can (the ones that have to go "hat in hand" to the Legislature for almost everything). Naturally, these eight counties include the ones that contain Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Huntsville, Auburn/Opelika, and two others. The Alabama consistution did do a wise thing in limiting the number of counties in the state: each one must contain at least 450 square miles of land. So, Alabama is not gerrymandered into an incredible number of small counties & independent cities like Georgia (159!), Texas (254!), Illinois, Virginia, etc., are. Some other states place such practical limits on the number of counties, such as by their land area. For example, Iowa had 99 counties, and someone tried to establish a 100th one. That county was too small, and the state Supreme Court naturally declared that one to be unconstitutional. Hence, Iowa has remained with 99 counties ever since then, because the constitution has not been amended on this issue.
Well, I'm no expert, but I can give a perspective on what I am familiar with: in Michigan (and from what I have seen of Wisconsin and Ohio), counties began in the 19th century as general law entities with powers defined and fairly tightly circumscribed by the state legislature, much as you describe for the southeast (the Michigan constitution at one time had lengthy sections detailing disctinctions between numerous varieties of municipalities--and it seems the legislature at that time spent much of its time meddling in municipal affairs). But beginning around the turn of the century (I think this corresponded with the rise of the progressive movement and reforms intended to address corruption in municipal government), home rule powers began to devolve to local entities. In Michigan, most counties are still general law entities (only Wayne County has adopted a charter relieving it of many of the technical requirements of the general law provisions for administration and organization). However, the general law governing counties and other municipalities has become somewhat less restrictive, such that most municipalities (including counties and townships) have a significant degree of home rule authority. The state law governing general law municipalities prescribes options for organizing and administering the entities, but gives the individual entities considerable leeway for taking care of the needs specific to that entity without intervention from the legislature. Interestingly, one of the challenges facing Michigan currently is the large number of local governmental authorities that individuals and businesses have to deal with--and whether the various governmental process should (or can) be streamlined. olderwiser 15:59, Nov 13, 2004 (UTC)
That's useful info. In Tennessee, whereas the counties have basically only the powers the state has devolved to them, municipalities have broad powers and can essentially do everything except what the state says they cannot (the first presumably being roughly the same relationship Canadian provinces have the Canadian federal government and the second being roughly the same as U.S. states are supposed to have with the U.S. federal government). The real limit on municipal powers in Tennessee is that they can't fine anyone over $50, a constitutional limit dating to the adoption of the state constitution in 1870, when of course it was a still-considerable sum. Even coupled with court costs, this doesn't do much to deter much of anything in the modern era (unless it is assessed on a per day case, which it can be for things like building permit and zoning violations). The Tennessee Municipal League spent a lot of time and effort getting the repeal of that limit on the ballot in 2002, but it got lost in the shuffle. All of the publicity and campaign expenditures went into the other propostition on the ballot the same day, the state lottery, and the municipal fines amendment became only the second one in Tennessee history to make the ballot but then be voted down. (History shows that when people don't have things explained to them, they tend to vote "no". The other defeated amendment was a rather arcane change to how the state's judicial department was set up, which was defeated in 1978, largely because people seemed not to trust anything so wordy.) This leads to a weird situation. Many Tennesse muncipalities have enacted city ordinances against arson, rape, murder, etc., which of course are also against state law, but with the difference being that if one were charged under the city ordinance, the maximum punishment would be a $50 fine, and "jeporady" would have attached, so if one were convicted of violating those ordinances, presumably the only punishment would be a fine of $50 and court costs. Generally prosecutors don't make the mistake of charging people under city warrants for state offenses, but the fact that it could happen has led to something of a movement to repeal all city ordinances against felony offenses, so that someone doesn't get fined $50 for murder by mistake. Rlquall 14:06, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Typically, counties are organs of the states and can be abolished, created, merged, and divided by the state government. Counties may have some protection in their state's constitution (which varies) but the federal constitution does not mention counties and leaves states to handle [local governments] (it is United States). Usually the smaller the state, the more power an individual county will have and will likely be granted protection or at least be mentioned in the state's constitution. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:58, 26 June 2005 (UTC)

Let's lose the POV[edit]

"Terrible public library" doesn't belong as a statement of fact in an encyclopedic article. "Some observers have decried the quality of the public libraries of Santa Clara County" is potentially worthwhile, if a source such as a newspaper or magazine article can be quoted and or linked, especially. But just saying in effect "The library in Santa Monica sucks," without attribution, doesn't make it. Rlquall 13:50, 16 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Still waiting for a knowledgable person (presumably a current or former Californian) to make corrections in the comment to the effect that all public libraries in Los Angeles County are terrible. This is too POV to be encyclopedic and needs to be edited, now or very soon. Rlquall 23:05, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Done. I've lived both places, and it's nonsense. I frequent the L.A. County library in Culver City, for example, and I've been in MANY libraries (city-run, county-run, otherwise) in my day, and it's quite nice! jengod 01:10, Dec 3, 2004 (UTC)
Thanks, that's a vast improvement to the article. Rlquall 06:22, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

County creation in the United States[edit]

Hi, Does somebody knows when did the last county has been created ? Is there some projects to create counties, especially in the West ? As a foreigner, I don't know, and can't find any answer to it in this article. It would be a great thing if somebody could do it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:04, 17 January 2005 (UTC)

The last new county here in Tennessee was created ca. 1880. Since then, one has filed for bankruptcy and been absorbed by a neighboring county (James County, Tennessee, ca. 1919). There have been several counties in Wyoming formed in the early 20th century, and there have been several new-county movements since then, including at least two in Tennessee (where the state constitution as now written makes them almost impossible to start), but I don't know of any newer counties than the Hawai'i counties added in 1959 when the state was admitted. Rlquall 02:46, 26 May 2005 (UTC)
My bet is that counties, independent cities, etc. are created by the States. Here in North Carolina, the last counties created was Hoke Co. and Avery Co. in 1911. About 12 years ago, there was a proposal the beach communities in S New Hanover County form their own county. This proposal went nowhere in the end. -- Hoshie | 03:10, 19 September 2005 (UTC)
The last county that was created in Alabama was in about 1904. (talk) 20:31, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
The last time I checked, there is a lot of talk in Santa Barbara County, California about splitting it in half, but it hasn't happened yet. And yes, to confirm Hoshie's point, counties exist at the pleasure of the states (the primary sovereign unit in American government with plenary authority), so how a county is created is up to the state in which it sits. --Coolcaesar 05:52, 19 September 2005 (UTC)
The most recently created county may have been Bullfrog County, Nevada, but it's possible that there have been some more recent ones. --Cjmnyc 04:06, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
Bullfrog County was an unusual case, a relatively-small area of unpopulated land contining the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal site that is under contruction, and which had its county seat designated as Carson City, Nevada, the capital city of that state - and that city that is nowhere near Bullfrog County. Anyone who is interested can do some research and determine whether Bullfrog County has been declared unconstitutional, or possibly simply the idea was abandoned. (talk) 20:27, 30 January 2009 (UTC)
Broomfield County, Colorado is the most recent one I know of. 121a0012 04:32, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
An amendment to the Colorado state consitution was passed in 1998, and then a three-year transition period followed. On November 15, 2001, Broomfield County became the 64th, newest, and smallest, county of Colorado. Also, probably the newest county in the United States. (Let's not even consider Alaska, or any new independent cities anywhere that might have been established.) Broomfield County acquired land from four older counties (Adams, Boulder, Jefferson, and Weld Counties), and especially from Boulder County. Broomfield County lies in between the cities of Denver/Denver County and Boulder, Colorado. (talk) 20:19, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

Article move?[edit]

Was there any discussion of renaming the article from County (United States) to Counties of the United States? I think the former is a better title for the article. olderwiser 01:37, May 26, 2005 (UTC)

  • Agreed. Don't know if there was discussion at the time, but it certain runs counter to how things seem to be moving generally. Note that United States Democratic Party is now Democratic Party (United States), for example, as are the other parties of a size for anyone much to have heard of. Also, I see U.S. Southern states, a hugely contrived and unrealistic article title IMO, getting remade into the far more natural Southern United States as a step in the right direction. To me, at least, County (United States) seems right and Counties of the United States all wrong, just because it seems unlikely that anyone with any concept of the Wikipedia naming conventions would ever start there, and because it sounds contrived. It's certainly probably not keeping anyone from finding the article, with the redirects and the search function currently working so well, but we should show some consistency IMO. Rlquall 02:36, 26 May 2005 (UTC)
  • Agreed. This article should be County (United States). "Counties of the United States" sounds like a list and doesn't conform to the general convention in either case. --Tysto 21:01, 23 December 2005 (UTC)
    • I concur. --Coolcaesar 05:04, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

by are, population?[edit]

I'd do this if I could, list of counties by area and population. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Duffman7p (talkcontribs) 03:17, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

See County statistics of the United States —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jengod (talkcontribs) 19:50, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Too much info in County Article (regarding the merge suggestion)[edit]

I would suggest that there's too much info. in the County article in the US section, and that more of it could do with being moved to the specific US article in order to cut down the length - which is quite substantial. I think this follows the simple principle that anyone who wants to know more will follow the link that's already present. Andrewferrier 18:00, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

I think you are referring to the merge suggestion that currently appears in both articles, so I have revised this discussion section's name. I agree that the basic County article's section about US counties should be replaced with a link that points to this article. JonathanFreed 20:22, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

County government?[edit]

The article contains a whole lot of specifics about the boundaries, population, scope, etc., of counties as geographic entities, and almost nothing about what county governments actually do. Yes, it varies by state, but there are some broadly common elements.

Obviously law enforcement and the justice system are key county functions. For example, I think just about every county in ths U.S. has a sheriff, a court, and a jail. Prosecutors in most states are county elected officials, and the court system is usually county based.

In some states, especially in the South, there is a broadly powerful official known as the County Judge who has executive, judicial, and legislative authority. In Kentucky I think they have changed the name to "County Judge-Executive".

Further, except in New England, where towns are supreme, land, real estate, and vital records are maintained at the county level, usually by an elected official such as a county clerk or a recorder of deeds, or both.

In many states, human services such as welfare are provided by the state via county government agencies.

Most states do not give county government the kinds of broad municipal powers that cities have.

Just a few thoughts. Kestenbaum 02:37, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Besides the concerns Kestenbaum raises above, this article doesn't seemt to distinguish between county governments (such as reported here by the census bureau), vs. counties (or equivalents) as geographic entities. The link above cites 3,034 functioning county governments in 2002 (including LA parishes and AK boroughs). But I think the count of counties as geographic entities may be higher (i.e., Connecticut and Rhode Island counties, and some Massachusetts counties count as geographic entities, but not as governments). I noticed this in a recent edit in which the counts given of counties seemed to be updated inconsistently (and without any source) but that the original numbers seemed off as well. olderwiser 15:48, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
The local government law handbook I saw in the county law library (and cited in this article) had a section on what county governments do in general nationwide---I think. Next time I am at the county law library I will take a look at that book again and take some notes if there is anything good. --Coolcaesar 16:19, 26 June 2006 (UTC)
The article does not mention at all that some counties have a small County Commission that directs their governments, while some have an (e.g.) Board of Supervisors and maybe a County Executive, too - which I know that they have in Maryland. Where they have a County Executive, that job is similar to that of a Mayor of a city with a large geographic area (e.g. New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Oklahoma city) - but with just a different title. In Maryland, some County Executives (e.g. Parris Glendening) have gone on to run for the state Governor and get elected. Being the County Executive of a populous county is a quite important job. (talk) 20:43, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

Honolulu a city or not?[edit]

One of the duplicated sections says Honolulu is not an incorporated city and thus its title "City & County of Honolulu" is a misnomer. The other says that Honolulu is an incorporated city. Neither of them cites. 17:12, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

We Know what a city is, whether state governments do or not. A city is an urban area with a population of 60,000 or more, and Honolulu surely is that. On the other hand, the Hawaii state constitution provides for no local governments at all besides the several counties. No city governments, no town governments, no village governments. Thus, the "City & County of Honolulu" contains the whole island of Oahu, Hawaii, and all of Honolulu, and all of the densely, intermediate, or thinly populated areas of that island. The city of Honolulu (as we know it - take me to Oahu and I will point at it) does not have a Mayor, unless there is a ceremonial one; no city council. You are welcome to look up the form of the County government.
Interestingly, if Honolulu were to win an event like the Summer Olympic games, etc., there would be no Mayor to attend the closing ceremony at the previous site. On the other hand, Oahu could sent either its County Exective, if there is one, or the State Governor. (talk) 21:05, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

Wikiproject help[edit]

Some helpful information on U.S. county lists can be found at WP:COUNTYLISTS. Tompw (talk) (review) 16:36, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Water areas?[edit]

Why exclude water areas from the area of a county? Does that mean also excluding internal rivers, lakes, and streams? Thesmothete 15:25, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Water areas are generally not excluded from the areas of counties. In most articles that I can find, both land area and "total area" (water plus land) are given in the statistics. When someone mentions "area", of course, he should specify which one it is (land or total). The most important instance where land area should always be used would be in the calculation of population density, since people don't generally live on water. Backspace 07:07, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
It is my contention that most people would find it hard to believe that Keweenaw County, Michigan is bigger than Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. Well, it is, if you count water. If you count only land, Rio Arriba County is more than ten times as large as Keweenaw County. The land area of Keweenaw County is 540.975 sq mi, that of Rio Arriba County is 5,857.631 sq mi; however, if we consider water, then the total area is 5,965.956 sq mi for Keweenaw County, and 5,896.103 sq mi for Rio Arriba County. Backspace 07:29, 26 July 2007 (UTC)
So? It was made clear before that the land areas and total areas should be designated as such. For example Anne Arundel County, Maryland, has a total area that extends all the way out to the middle of the Cheasapeake Bay, but its more important area is the actual land area. As for the areas of minor streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds, I think that those are always lumped in with the land area, and especially if you can walk or ride a horse across them, and also if they are not navigable waterways.
The US Federal Government has granted jurisdiction over navigable waterways out to the three-mile limit to the states, and thus to the counties. I don't know how the statisticians count this area of water in their calculations. However, when it comes to petroleum and mineral deposits inside of the three-mile limit, those belong to the jurisdiction of states (and can be regulated and taxed by them), while outside of the three-mile limit, they fall under the aegis of the Federal Government, and are regulated and taxed by it. (As far as the Great Lakes are concerned, I don't know.) This "beyond the three-mile limit" authority has been asserted by the Executive and Legislative branches, and it has been upheld by the courts, even though it is not detailed in the Constitution. The Constitution would be fantstically large and unwieldy to use if it detailed everything. (talk)
By the way, the land area of Rhode Island is about 1,000 square miles. I had an argument with a fellow who wanted to claim that it was 1,4000 square miles - but that includes the area of Naragansett Bay, etc., and as I told the man, if I can't walk on it, I don't want it! 1,000 square miles is also a round number98.67.160.30 (talk) 21:24, 30 January 2009 (UTC)


  • Image:Map of USA with county outlines.png has no author information.
  • Not enough references, there are paragraphs, sections, and facts that have no citations...Therefore broadness cannot be passed, as there are no references to go along with article.
  • See semi-automated peer review for MOS problems...peer review

GA review – see WP:WIAGA for criteria

This article is in decent shape, but it needs more work before it becomes a Good Article.

  1. Is it reasonably well written?
    A. Prose quality:
    B. MoS compliance:
  2. Is it factually accurate and verifiable?
    A. References to sources:
    B. Citation of reliable sources where necessary:
    C. No original research:
    as above
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    A. Major aspects:
    B. Focused:
  4. Is it neutral?
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. Is it stable?
    No edit wars, etc:
  6. Does it contain images to illustrate the topic?
    A. Images are copyright tagged, and non-free images have fair use rationales:
    B. Images are provided where possible and appropriate, with suitable captions:
  7. Overall:
    Pass or Fail:
    Good luck with improving this article!

Added article to the Unreferenced GA Nominations list. SriMesh | talk 03:34, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for carrying out the review. Clearly the main task is to add references where needed. Tompw (talk) (review) 21:45, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Largest-Smallest Statistics Discrepancies[edit]

I was looking up statistics for the "smallest county", and this article and County statistics of the United States are in disagreement on a few points.

Smallest, either:

the discrepancies stem from the 13 (land-only) versus 26 (land and total) versus 52 (total).

Naturally, the land area is what is important, and don't you include that ocean area. Also 0.35% of 26 square miles is 0.1 square mile, which rounds down to zero. (Why split hairs?) Also, a very long time ago (in Colonial times), the boundary between Maryland and Virginia was set at the high-water line of the Potomac River on the side that is farthest away from the land of Maryland. (In other words, the southern or western shore of it.) This boundary line was also inherited by the District of Columbia in 1854. Hence, Arlington County does not include any of the Potomac River, a large river in that region. Its 0.35% of water area includes only the minor streams, lakes, and ponds that exist there.
Also, the Independent City of Falls Church, Virginia (est. 1948), is smaller than Arlington county, and in fact, it is the smallest so-called "county equivalent" in the United States. Falls Church is an enclave along the boundary between Arlington County and Fairfax County, and it is governmentally independent of both of those. The land area of Falls Church is about 2.2 square miles (5.7 square kilometers), with negligible water area. Part of the neighboring Fairfax County is served by the U.S. Postal Service through the Falls Church post office, and so, mailing addresses and Zip Codes are not an indicator of the real size (smallness) of Falls Church. (talk) 21:54, 30 January 2009 (UTC)

Largest, either:

The United States Census Bureau divides up the Unorganized Borough into 11 census areas, but those 11 areas have no basis in Alaska or federal law other than electoral representation and federal financial assistance. Where the State of Alaska or others properly clarify it, they refer to: the Unorganized Borough as the "largest borough", and the North Slope Borough as the "largest organized borough".

My call on the two above, is that it is not up to Wikipedia to claim either are largest or smallest, but to restate the above facts:

  • smallest is one or the other depending on if you count water or not,
  • largest is one or the other depending on whether or not you recognize the Unorganized Borough as an official county like Alaska does or not.

LeheckaG (talk) 16:00, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

Still needs references[edit]

This isn't a formal GA review, but I don't think referencing is still the main problem keeping this article from GA quality. The entire scope of power section and unreferenced, and the Governance section is mostly unreferenced. These are the most important sections of the article, and definitely need citations.--ragesoss (talk) 20:10, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

More on smallest county[edit]

I edited the name of the county and the numbers to fit what seems to be the facts, from Wikipedia's own entry on Manhattan: New York County is 3 to 4 square miles smaller than Arlington County, Virginia, and thus it should rate as the smallest "self-governing county" in the country. Dougie monty (talk) 06:16, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Can someone please go and find out how many people are in Loving, TX now? It states that there are Sixty-seven but during the November 4th polls 79 people voted there. Please find out how many are there currently.

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:County (United States)/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Sorry, but I'm going to have to fail this right off the bat. It just has too few refs to make it a good article. The prose is fine, and it has plenty of detail, but six refs for an article of this size is not acceptable. It doesn't look like you really addressed the previous GA review's concerns. Sorry. Please add many more refs before you renominate this for a third time. Intothewoods29 (talk) 20:40, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

Manhattan "self-governing"?[edit]

I have removed the following line:

The smallest self-governing county is New York County, New York, at 22.96 square miles (59.47 km²).

It is not clear what is meant by "self-governing" in this case. From what I can gather at Borough (New York City), the powers of the five boroughs are quite limited, with most authority vested in the NYC mayor and legislature. Also, the ref ([1]) immediately following the above sentence makes no mention of Manhattan at all. SteveRwanda (talk) 09:29, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

D.C. as county-equivalent[edit],_D.C.#District_of_Columbia_as_county-equivalent —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:34, 26 October 2009 (UTC) (talk) 09:10, 11 November 2009 (UTC)


Did any of US counties ever had Counts??? (talk) 21:32, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Did the British Crown grant noble titles to royal governors anywhere in the Empire? Did the Spanish, French, or Russian "crowns" do so? Presumably those are the actions that would have originated any counts and their ilk (noble governors) associated with any of our counties and their ilk (states, municipalities, etc). I don't know the answer. --P64 (talk) 21:53, 30 June 2010 (UTC)
AFAIK there were no Counts as hereditary rulers in British North America, but there were royal governors who were given titles. British North America had many appointed governors with titles, and many places named after titled nobility (New York, Baltimore), but never with hereditary right to rule.
British counties also never had counts, not in the sense of an hereditary ruler of a county. In Anglo-Saxon times when the Shires were established, each originally had an hereditary Earl as part feudal lord, part war lord, part military governor. When the Normans took over and re-named them counties they ceased to have hereditary rulers, and Dukes, Earls etc. became merely feudal titles which did not imply rule of the territory of the same name. TiffaF (talk) 11:30, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

County geographical area[edit]

If geographic area is land area throughout (see above, Water areas), then the text should make that clear, before reporting any average or extreme areas. --P64 (talk) 17:25, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

Edit of jurisdiction[edit]

A respected editor deleted a comment I threw in about the scope of county judicial and law enforcement scope. Which include the enforcement of state statutes, not obvious to a non-American or citizen of a non-English derived administrative units. He said it was there. I do not doubt him, but still couldn't spot it. Perhaps it needs a separate subtitle? Student7 (talk) 19:22, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

I don't think that particular point needs to be in the article (it smells like TMI) because trial judges for general trial courts organized along county lines are normally officers of the state, and that point is noted already. (In some states judges of city courts or village courts are officers of those subordinate entities, but this isn't an article about those entities.) For example, a trial court judge in Los Angeles is a judge of the Superior Court of California in and for the County of Los Angeles. In which case it should be self-evident that a state judicial officer has power to enforce state statutes. --Coolcaesar (talk) 22:07, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Actually, I think I see what you are getting at with regard to the law enforcement side as opposed to the judicial side---I'm going modify the passage further. --Coolcaesar (talk) 22:08, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, it looks thorough! A Good Faith addition.
Some comments: a) I think mine was simpler. b) Neither yours nor mine contained cites. c) I think petit juries and grand juries should be mentioned or linked or something, somewhere. Rather unique to English law. d) Mine was a separate subsection and therefore applied to "whatever" county structure, not just moderate. Even New England (except maybe Connecticut) has most of this. And I think broad scope counties have the same. Student7 (talk) 23:07, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
My concern is WP:UNDUE. The problem is that the issue of county versus state power is such a gigantic mess (there are many, many books and articles on it) that this article cannot do the topic justice, and your original version clearly violated WP:UNDUE because it wandered off into a tangent on that very difficult topic. Keep in mind, there are many textbooks out there dedicated to the subject of local government law alone. This article should not wander off too much into a separate section that looks like a confusing digression on state courts or the U.S. criminal justice system when there are many other articles already devoted to those subjects on Wikipedia. By confining the discussion to the moderate scope section that has been carefully drafted to reflect the majority of states, we avoid running the risk of making generalizations that don't really apply to New England (or New York, which is just weird in its own way).
Also, about the jury issue, that's not really specific to counties. Keep in mind, federal courts also use petit and grand juries. And we have articles on those subjects.--Coolcaesar (talk) 07:45, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
You know your topic.
I think sometimes us amateurs skip the trees for the forest which may be sufficient for the reader. Think about a European reading about English-law counties for the first time. Our system is bottom up. The national government does not appoint judge-prosecutors. There are "peer" juries. While we have federal courts, most trials/arraignments, etc. are county or municipal in nature. And usually enforcing, not national, not municipal, but state statutes.
My attempt was brief and had links to the topic. I agree that the topics are "too deep" for unlimited discussion here. I agree that NY is complex, but even they have a basic structure that is similar though everything may be differently named. Student7 (talk) 22:44, 17 August 2011 (UTC)


can we please use something other than svg? people are unable to open them for a closer look-- (talk) 19:08, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

If you click on the image itself on the image description page, you do get the raw SVG. But below the image are links to several sizes of PNG renderings of the image, so there should be no problem. Furthermore, with a modern, standards-based SVG-capable browser it is indeed possible to open the raw SVG for a closer look with much greater detail and quality than otherwise possible. They will also render to print with much better quality. Indeed, SVG is the prefered format on Wikipedia for graphic (non-photo) images. --Kbh3rdtalk 19:16, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

Virginia and Alaska County Counts Incorrect?[edit]

Looks like to me the Virginia count does not include the dissolution of Bedford, thus reducing the number by one (133, not 134).

It also seems to me that Alaska is double counting the Unorganized Borough, since it consists of census areas that are counted as well in its total. Should only be 29 in my book. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:07, 10 February 2014 (UTC)