Finding GIS Data

The computers in both the GIS Lab and SciVis Lab are equipped with commonly-used geospatial datasets for Dutchess County, New York State, the U.S., and the World.  These data come from various sources and are available on a network server.  (Contact Neil Curri for instructions about connecting to the server.) 

Some of these data and other data can be obtained from various sources in the U.S. and around the world.  State agencies and land-grant universities in the U.S. often have online clearinghouses of GIS data, which often come up first in internet searches using keywords “GIS” and the name of the state (e.g. GIS and Iowa). 

Below is a list of various data sources by geographic extent and topic. 

New York State

  • New York State GIS Clearinghouse ( – Where to start looking for state-wide data in New York.  Data is also available at the county level for many counties across the state.  There’s also a collection of natural resource data associated with the Hudson River.  
  • CUGIR: Cornell University Geospatial Information Repository ( – An alternative to the NYS GIS Clearinghouse for state-wide and/or county-wide data.  Some layers, such as state-regulated wetlands and agricultural districts, are only available here and not on the Clearinghouse.

New York City

United States


  • National Historic Geographic System ( – The National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS) provides population, housing, agricultural, and economic data, along with GIS-compatible boundary files, for geographic units in the United States from 1790 to the present.  Obtaining the same data from NHGIS can be a useful alternative to downloading data from American Factfinder for use in GIS, especially if looking for historic demographic and socioeconomic data. 
  • David Rumsey Historical Map Collection ( – Contains high resolution map images that can be georeferenced online or downloaded and georeferenced in GIS.  Includes rare 16th through 21st century maps of America, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Pacific, Arctic, Antarctic, and the World.