Measuring Progress Since 1924

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State Plane Coordinate Systems


The State Plane Coordinate System came into being during the 1930s. Originally, the state plane coordinate systems were based on the North American Datum of 1927 (NAD27). Later, the more accurate North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83) became the standard.

The State Plane Coordinate System (SPS or SPCS) is a set of 124 geographic zones or coordinate systems designed for specific regions of the United States. Each state contains one or more state plane zones, the boundaries of which usually follow county lines. There are 110 zones in the continental US, with 10 more in Alaska, 5 in Hawaii, and one for Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.

Most state plane zones are based on either a transverse Mercator projection or a Lambert conformal conic projection. The choice between the two map projections is based on the shape of the state and its zones. States that are long in the east-west direction are typically divided into zones that are also long east-west. These zones use the Lambert conformal conic projection, because it is good at maintaining accuracy along an east-west axis. Zones that are long in the north-south direction use the Transverse Mercator projection because it is better at maintaining accuracy along a north-south axis

Interesting fact. The Seattle metropolitan area in King County, which includes the City of Seattle, uses the “Washington State Plane North” coordinate system, while Pierce County, which includes the City of Tacoma, uses “Washington State Plane South”







Who Is W.B. Wells?

In 1924, after graduating from Stanford University, Willard B. Wells founded W.B. Wells & Assoc. Inc in Portland, Oregon. Willard’s philosophy was to provide a quality product for a reasonable fee. We still follow Willard’s philosophy today.
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