Showing additional layers

This guide will:

Here at Social Explorer, we focus on providing our customers with the latest data and state-of-the-art visualization tools. This includes endless customization options, such as predefined and custom color palettes, various visualization types, and view modes. In addition to tweaking colors and choosing the visualization type that works best for your data, you can customize the map itself by enabling or disabling different layers.

Layers behave much like transparent sheets of plastic stacked on top of each other. Each layer contains distinct types of objects, whether it’s data, lines, label, or other shapes.

Certain layers are enabled automatically

Social Explorer includes dozens of layers: everything from the world continents and water area labels to world capitals and countries. However, always displaying all of them would make any visualization pretty cluttered pretty fast. This is why Social Explorer is set up to display certain layers only at certain zoom levels.

For example, when viewing the map of the United States, the default geography level is state. However, as you zoom in, other layers will be displayed. If you zoom to the level 5, you’ll see the county borders. In this case, county borders are a separate layer that is activated as you zoom in. State borders, on the other hand, get disabled. Other examples of the layers that are automatically displayed are county labels and landmarks, among other things.

Manually enable geographies

You can manually change the geography the data is displayed for. For example, here’s what you need to do if you want to display household income per census tract. First, let’s select the variable.

  1. In the upper-left corner, click Change Data
  2. Select Income
  3. Scroll down to the section called Household Income (In 2017 Inflation Adjusted Dollars) – Cumulative (More).
  4. Click More than $60,000.

As of right now, the variable is displayed on the state level. Let’s switch it up a bit without scrolling.

  1. Click Show data by
  2. Toggle off Automatic display.
  3. Click Census Tract.

Now, you probably noticed that the data is loaded for each tract, and that, as you move the cursor around, the tooltip displays the tract information. However, because we still haven’t zoomed in enough, the layer with census tract borders is still not displayed. It is only after you zoom in above the zoom level 9 that the thin white lines representing tract borders will be displayed.

Then, there are certain layers Social Explorer will never display by default, regardless of how much you zoom in. For example, census tract names is one of those layers. To display census tract labels, follow these steps:

  1. In the upper-right corner, click the menu button. 
  2. Select Map Layers.
  3. Scroll down to Show: Census Tracts Labels and check the box next to it to enable it. 

  1. In the upper-right corner, click Done.

Census tract labels are visible only on the zoom level 10 or greater.

Of course, there are dozens of other layers in the Map Layers settings you can show or hide, but keep in mind that certain layers, even when enabled in the Map Layers settings, will become visible only at a certain zoom level. Another example of such layers, besides tract labels, are ZCTA5 borders, which will appear only at the zoom level 9 and beyond.