The China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) began in 1989 with the goal of creating a multilevel method of data collection from individuals and households and their communities to understand how the wide-ranging social and economic changes in China affect a wide array of nutrition and health-related outcomes. Initiated with a partial sample in 1989, the full survey runs from 1991 to 2011, and this issue documents the CHNS history. The CHNS cohort includes new household formation and replacement communities and households; all household members are studied. Furthermore, in-depth community data are collected. The sample began with eight provinces and added a ninth, Heilongjiang, in 1997 and three autonomous cities, Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing, in 2011. The in-depth community contextual measures have allowed us to create a unique measure of urbanicity that captures major dimensions of modernization across all 288 communities currently in the CHNS sample. The standardized, validated urbanicity measure captures the changes in 12 dimensions: population density; economic activity; traditional markets; modern markets; transportation infrastructure; sanitation; communications; housing; education; diversity; health infrastructure; and social services. Each is based on numerous measures applicable to each dimension. They are used jointly and separately in hundreds of studies.