American house numbering conventions
May 4, 2004 9:05 AM   Subscribe

When watching American TV and films, I often see house numbers such as 1711 or 3242 or whatever. Are the streets actually that long? Are there thousands of houses on one street? Or does the number break down into something else?
posted by Orange Goblin to Media & Arts (57 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In a word, Yes. Where I grew up, (Phoenix, AZ) a road could easily be 20 miles long, populated the entire way with houses. My home growing up was a 6000 number, but this had more to do with its location on a grid of streets and avenues. So, say a house that is 6000 is on 60th street n/s on a e/w road named Indian School. Indian School, incidently, is at least 20 miles long. Now along those north souths, then you get huge numbers as well, like a ski shop that 16000 north. Anyhow, I guess the point is, yes, at least out west the roads are that long.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 9:20 AM on May 4, 2004

Generally the first two or three numbers are the number of blocks the cross street is from a designator road. For instance, 1711 is the block after 17th Avenue. The second set of number is the number of the house on the block. Odd number on one side of the street, even the other.

And they can get much higher. One business I go to is 31304. Just off of 313th Avenue.

On preview: what BrodieShadeTree said.
posted by karmaville at 9:22 AM on May 4, 2004

North American cities are/were frequently laid out on a grid, which gets you very long streets. I grew up with a five-digit house address. This is common anywhere development happened post-WWII when the craze for suburbia really started to bite. Long streets are very common on the prairies, but can be found everywhere in the US and Canada.

Some streets are very long. Younge Street, in Toronto, arguably extends all the way to North Bay (500 km+), and is sequentially numbered for at least 50km of that length.
posted by bonehead at 9:24 AM on May 4, 2004

Building numbers in the U.S. are non-consecutive. Typically, a range of 1000 covers 1 mile. Numbered streets which are one number apart tend to be about 1/10 mile apart, and buildings between those two streets have numbers between the street numbers times 100--i.e., if 13th St. and 14th St. are east-west streets, buildings on north-south streets which lie between 13th St. and 14th St. have numbers in the range 1300-1399.

I'm sure there's plenty of exceptions to this rule, but this seems to be the most common pattern. I live just south of 141st St., so even 5-digit numbers are common around here.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:24 AM on May 4, 2004

Lots of times the streets are that long, yes. The numbers often ncrease by block (especially in cities and large towns), so 1311 Oak St would be on the 13th block of Oak St, and 1450 Oak would, obviously, be on the 14th block. There are also streets that are so long that they're divided into north and south, or east and west. Thus you might have a 1311 N Oak St, and a 1311 S Oak St. There are addresses with 6 or even 7 numbers in them. I see a lot of 6 digit addresses in Florida.

The first house on a street doesn't usually have the address of 1, so when you see 1311 Oak, that doesn't mean that there are 1311 houses on Oak St. I've never understood that myself. The numbers usually skip in predetermined increments - have never understood that either. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason, although I'm sure that there is. Here in the area of Pennsylvania I live in, addresses skip in fours - that is, you would go from 428 East Shipley to 433 East Shipley, to 437 East Shipley.

Also, addresses that end in an even number are usually on one side of the street, and odds are on the other.

I work with a woman who used to be a mail carrier. I'm going to go ask her about the skipping numbers thing. Will report back in about 3 or 4 hours (she's very wordy).
posted by iconomy at 9:24 AM on May 4, 2004

Since no one else mentioned it: generally, odd numbers are on one side of the street, even on the other.
posted by falconred at 9:28 AM on May 4, 2004

It's found more often the further west you travel-- many towns in the midwest and southwest were surveyed and laid-out before they were built with the numbering system described above.

It's rare on the east coast because:

- The streets just "sprung up" as people built their houses and their livestock moved around. Or, in the last two centuries, they were planned but built in corners and pockets of unoccupied land.

-The towns existed before the roads, so the same street will probably have different names in each town that it crosses.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:28 AM on May 4, 2004

Here in Colorado, they're basically cartesian co-ordinates. The basic unit is the 'block' which is numbered separately in each city, from an origin and the corresponding x/y axes. Each 'block' consists of 100 street numbers - thus the block between 22nd and 23rd streets has street numbers 2200-2299 - but as blocks are quite small and you can only fit at most about 5 houses on a block you will get something like 2215, 2235, 2255, 2275, and 2295 as legit addresses, and all the other 22xx numbers do not exist as addresses.

So all street numbers are theoretically possible, but most do not exist, as it would be impossible to have 100 houses per block.

For example, if you live 45 blocks and 3 houses north of the origin or x axis, your house number will be 4535 Blah Street, or something like that. But you won't be the 4535th house in Blah Street, but more like the 200th house (as most of the numbers on Blah Street do not exist as addresses).

I really need a diagram for this ;)
posted by carter at 9:36 AM on May 4, 2004

Question back atcha, Orange G:

What kind of numbering system is there where you hail from? To me, the numbering system described here seems perfectly logical, so I'm having a hard time imagining what you're comparing it to.

Unless you live in a town of one-block-long streets, the house numbers must creep up eventually, no?
posted by baltimore at 9:42 AM on May 4, 2004

In the Northeast the numbers (as I understand it) correspond to some sort of lot zoning. I learned this soon after encountering a 60 1/2 or something like that.
posted by yerfatma at 9:48 AM on May 4, 2004

I've never heard of this "distance from X axis" numberering system. Interesting. I'm in Toronto. We just start numbering at 1 and then continue up the street till we run out of street. (Odd numbered houses are on the east or south side of the street; even on the south and west.)

We also sport the longest street in the world, Yonge Street (though this has been disputed). At one time the street was 1900km long. However, that was a long time ago and development of newer streets has cut Yonge up and now its length is difficult to measure.
posted by dobbs at 9:50 AM on May 4, 2004

Salt Lake City also has some stupid huge street numbers.
posted by cmonkey at 9:51 AM on May 4, 2004

that should be even on the north.
posted by dobbs at 9:51 AM on May 4, 2004

The best thing about the numbering system is that once you know it, you can find your way to most any address, as long as it isn't in a weirdly laid out neighborhood.
posted by drezdn at 9:59 AM on May 4, 2004

I'm not sure the various answer will be clear to Orange Goblin. What do you think "that many houses" and "long street" mean? What is your calibration?

But to be exact, iconomy and devil's advocate provided the best answers. To try to answer your explicit question: there's usually not a house for every house number. That would be a hundred houses for every block (as described above), and that's quite a bit more than most "blocks" would have. The houses are normally numbered consecutively (often alternating across the street so that one side is even and the other odd) up until the end of the block where the block multiple is advanced to the next unit. Say, so the highest numbered house might be 139, and that's the end of a block, there's a cross street, and the next house is 200.

Also, there's not a distinction between building use in terms of numbering.

In the idealized grid city, which you find in the west USA quite a bit, it might as well be a coordinate system because 114 E 10th Street tells you exactly where that address is measured from the "origin" of the city's coordinate system (presumably something like the old city center). These grid cities are boring. Easy to navigate, but really boring.

So you have independent areas that aren't grids, newly developed areas that aren't grids (to be interesting, which the new suburban development prefers), small towns swallowed up by urban expansion that has its own streets and numbering...and all this complicates thing quite a bit. But Americans expect the system described above to roughly be correct. So non-conforming things are made to semi-conform, often.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:01 AM on May 4, 2004

(Oops, I missed that Carter answered the question nicely, too.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:02 AM on May 4, 2004

The best thing about the numbering system is that once you know it, you can find your way to most any address, as long as it isn't in a weirdly laid out neighborhood.

And this is, in fact, the primary reason for the imposition of our system. Municipalities use the system described (excellently) by carter primarily as a coordinate system to rapidly locate a property, which can be very helpful in case of a fire or other emergency. Emergency personnel can get a general idea of where they're going without having to slow down to check individual address numbers. It's also helpful to pizza delivery guys (/voice of experience).

One example: El Cajon, CA, where I used to work in the pizza biz, counted all its address going out from the intersection of Main and Magnolia. As you went further from that intersection within city limits, the address numbers increased no matter which direction you were going in.
posted by LionIndex at 10:14 AM on May 4, 2004

I'm in Toronto. We just start numbering at 1 and then continue up the street till we run out of street.

Along the north-south axis, yeah, but that's because you have the lake. Imagine that God got angry at you and filled in the lake tomorrow, so you could extend Yonge farther south -- what street numbers would you assign to what got built there? Probably you'd start a South Yonge St there with increasing numbers farther away from the old lakeshore.

Along the east-west axis, that's exactly what happens with a lot of streets -- they use Yonge as the y-axis, with increasing E Vavatch St or W Vavatch St as you get farther from Yonge.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:23 AM on May 4, 2004

Emergency personnel can get a general idea of where they're going without having to slow down to check individual address numbers. It's also helpful to pizza delivery guys (/voice of experience)

This is especially true in cities with numbered streets. In Gainesville FL, where I went to high school, all the streets (but two) are numbered and the road names (ie, Road, Avenue, Street) are assigned in a pattern. As long as you remember where the through-streets are, which ain't hard, you don't need a map to find almost anything -- even in fairly twisty-turny subdivisions.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:27 AM on May 4, 2004

derail: One time in France I tried to find some place, and finally asked a person where it was. Turns out some schlep had built a castle interrupting the entire town for like two miles. The road started up again a few miles over begining with the next number! (6 on one side of town, 7 on the other) This really confused me. But, I'd trade simple street numbering for a cool castle anyday!
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 10:45 AM on May 4, 2004

If memory serves, the Guinness Book of World Records used to say that there was a six-digit street address in the northern part of Michigan's Lower Peninsula -- can't remember where, and their web site doesn't list it.
posted by pmurray63 at 10:48 AM on May 4, 2004

in Toronto [...] (Odd numbered houses are on the east or south side of the street; even on the south and west.)

I grew up on a crescent in T-Dot, and the numbers didn't flip over at the apex ;)

Tangentially, Bramelea, a suburb of Toronto, is divided in to 4 quadrants, all the non-main streets in quadrant 1 begin with 'A', 'B' in 2, 'C' in 3 and 'D' in 4. So locals can give rough directions without knowing the specific street: "Drayton? Thataway!" I always thought that was neat.
posted by Capn at 11:31 AM on May 4, 2004

I grew up in semi-rural Massachusetts and our street numbers correspond to how far our house is from the center of town. So, I grew up at 526 Stow Road which means we are 5260 feet [almost a mile!] from the town center which includes the town hall and the church. This is also the way the numbering works in rural Vermont where I now live, it's all about the distance from the center of town. To the best of my knowledge, this is only done in smallish towns in New England, but maybe other places do it too?
posted by jessamyn at 12:06 PM on May 4, 2004

We also have (in Boulder CO) an east-west "Baseline Road," which I presume was the road that was surveyed first so that all other roads could be measured from it. In Boulder it also happens to coincide with the latitude of 40 degrees N.
posted by carter at 12:06 PM on May 4, 2004

In some (many?) locations, the numbering has little bearing on the length of the street. My parents' house, in a suburb of Chicago, was 23600 N. Meadow -- the street was about half a mile long. I can only assume that the number was being calculated according to its distance from the 0/0 point in the center of town.

They recently moved into a house in the next neighborhood over, and their address is 123 Schooner. Obviously there is some aribitrariness to the system.
posted by me3dia at 12:10 PM on May 4, 2004

Rural addresses in Colorado tend to have 5 digit house numbers such as "17650 Pine Tree Rd". I couldn't find out why or what the numbers signify. I don't know if this is typical of other states, or unique to Colorado.
posted by Shoeburyness at 12:11 PM on May 4, 2004

I grew up in Chicago, which also has the Cartesian addressing system described elsewhere. What's interesting is that the current numbering system (which extends even into some suburbs) came about some time in the 1930s (I think). Before that, each neighborhood--each of which had once been independent municipalities--had their own addressing systems, so even though street names were (mostly) continuous, the numbering would re-start here and there. On Lincoln Ave, which runs all the way into Wisconsin, there might be five or six places with the same address, so cross-streets always had to be given.

In San Francisco, they use the 100-per-block numbering scheme, but each block starts from zero wherever it ends, rather than referencing a common zero-point.

New York City just uses unhelpful consecutive numbering. So 100 Fifth Ave is several blocks away from 120 Fifth Ave .

I'm in Austin now, which mostly uses the Cartesian system, except where it doesn't. My favorite example is one street in my area where you go around a slight bend and pass from 3314 Breeze Terrace to 3 Kern Ramble (which changes into Concordia a couple blocks later).
posted by adamrice at 12:21 PM on May 4, 2004

Generally, driving around downtown Richmond, a block of addresses will run from, say, 2000-2100 Something Street, and there are usually way fewer than 100 buildings or even 100 physical addresses per block.

I used to get lost in downtown Richmond all the time when I first started driving (almost 14 years ago). Then I finally figured out that if the streets were parallel, the block numbers would usually be the same. Until I figured that out, I would have made a lousy delivery driver.

Lately I've been running into an address problem with various companies trying to send me bills, although I guess my inability to receive some bills could be considered a good thing. I live on a street known as the Boulevard—the side of the Boulevard where traffic heads north, so #### N. Boulevard is my address. Invariably, some billing department will screw this up and try to send mail to #### North Blvd. (thinking that North is the name, not the direction.)
posted by emelenjr at 12:38 PM on May 4, 2004

In Cambridge, my house was numbered in the old fashioned way: no block designation, it was simply address #539 along the length of the street. Despite its presence on a corner (i.e. the start of a "new block", the next house toward the start of the street is #537. Across the street is #538. It is not the 5th block.

In the area where I am currently staying, our number is 8587. It refers to the number of feet to the front door (as measured along the street) from the start of the street, as expressed in fractions of a mile: 8.587 miles from the start of the street in this case. These are new numbers given when the county recently adopted a 911 system.

In Paris, some street numbers, inexplicably, do not correspond from one side of the block to the other. Generally, buildings there are numbered from consecutively from #1 -- the start of the street is always the end closest to the cathedral of notre dame. /related aside
posted by Dick Paris at 12:41 PM on May 4, 2004

Wow, a lot of answers. I like the idea of the Cartesian system. Baltimore - I'm from London, England, which has a complete lack of a grid system, having being built at random. Most (residential) streets are not incredibly long, and I think the largest house number I've seen was 200 something. My street only has 60 houses, so the idea of these miles long straight roads with thousands of houses on them seems a bit funny to me.
posted by Orange Goblin at 12:58 PM on May 4, 2004

I think it'd be pretty hard to find a residential street with a thousand houses in a row, uninterrupted. Things usually get broken up.

I wasn't aware of the distance in miles from start of street style, that's kind of neat.

Incidentally, one problem with a grid system is that you rely on it. And when, inexplicably, a road ends or you can't get to where you intend to go, you get really frustrated. I know I do, but that's because I've (nearly) always lived among pure or nearly pure grid systems.

Santa Fe, New Mexico is practically an old-world city and it frustrates visitors to no end. Narrow, twisty streets that curve and suddenly end and whatnot. Everyone gets lost. But I have the most trouble when a roughly consistent area makes a transition to something different. I also live in Austin, and because I'm so used to grids, I tend to think of one freeway that is definitely north-south intersecting another freeway indicates that the latter is east-west. And, for a while, it sort of is. But, near where I live, it gets more and more northbound. So, anyway, there's an area between the northern extension of the one freeway, and this nearby freeway, that I sort of can't get my head around because, deep down, I don't think they can possibly be essentially parallel. Part of my problem is that I'm very much a direction, not landmark, oriented traveler. When the roads go all wonky, my internal compass gets messed up. I have a tentative mental map of the area in my head, and the geometry isn't working out.

Anyway, I wonder if people that grew up in completely random, twisty streets are more inclined to be landmark travelers rather than direction travelers.

(As an aside, much of my family is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is extremely gridded. But there's also this big, single, honkin' mountain right up against the edge of the city. Albuquerqueans learn to rely on the mountain for navigation. My relatives would continually get lost in my gridlike small town simply because the horizon was undifferentiated in all directions.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:29 PM on May 4, 2004

Bit of a derail, but here goes; I recently learned that it is possible here in the States to change your house address, albeit within the limits of the numbers of the neighboring houses. Let's say your address is 2010, and the houses on either side are 2000 and 2020. You could make your house number anything in between 2000 and 2020 (though it must remain even or odd depending on the numbering on your side of the street).

I learned this via a chinese friend whose brother changed the number of the house he recently purchased,
due to the original house number having unlucky connotations in chinese.

posted by vignettist at 1:31 PM on May 4, 2004

Florence has a quirky system, but I think it would take me a lifetime to figure out the Sestieri of Venice
posted by romakimmy at 1:37 PM on May 4, 2004

Anyway, I wonder if people that grew up in completely random, twisty streets are more inclined to be landmark travelers rather than direction travelers.

Yes, this was the case for me growing up in the UK, where I learnt to navigate along the lines of "Go along the High Street, round the corner by the park, 2nd left, under the railway," and so on. Now I live in the US and it's more left, three blocks, right, four blocks, on ramp, Blah Street exit, right, ten blocks, etc."

It took me years to realise that one of the reasons I would get lost with instructions like these in the US, is that I was trying to remember what each intersection looked like as a landmark, and then navigate from there. And of course, as all intersections *look the same,* I was always getting confused and lost.
posted by carter at 1:44 PM on May 4, 2004

As long as we're talking about unusual addressing systems (never knew that about Florence--interesting), I've always been bemused and amused by Tokyo's.

Rather than indicating a point on a line, Tokyo's system is a series of increasingly fine-grained targets. Take an address I had for a while: Tokyo, Nakano-ku, Higashi-Nakano 4-16-4.

The "Tokyo" part is obvious. Nakano-ku is the ward or borough name--Tokyo has 23, many of which have populations the sizes of pretty big cities (and indeed, the head of a ward is called a mayor--Tokyo is headed by a governor). Higashi-nakano is the name a of a neighborhood (there might be a dozen or so in a ward) which is divided into "chome"--which encompass up to 50 or so blocks, usually no more than 5 or 6 chome in a neighborhood,. Each block in the chome has a number ("banchi"), and then each building around the block has a number--assigned, apparently, by walking around the block and assigning numbers in sequence (so the highest numbered building on a block will be next door to the "-1" building).

Except in this one part of central Tokyo where they use a slightly different system.
posted by adamrice at 2:07 PM on May 4, 2004

Etherial Bligh: But, near where I live, it gets more and more northbound. So, anyway, there's an area between the northern extension of the one freeway, and this nearby freeway, that I sort of can't get my head around because, deep down, I don't think they can possibly be essentially parallel.

35 and 183? The whole 35/183/Mopac interchange area drives my girlfriend crazy, and she's a grid-stater. (Oklahoma). I grew up long, curvy streets in North Carolina, and it doesn't bother me at all.

posted by jammer at 2:23 PM on May 4, 2004

I have never noticed the numbers corresponding to the length of the street in the suburbs here in Missouri.

You will have a dead end road less than a mile long, and the addresses will be five digits. it is really pretty arbitrary here. That has been my experience in pretty much every suburb I have been to. Perhaps people with big lawns like big numbers?

So, my answer to the original query would be that we have no good reason whatsoever in some cases.
posted by jester69 at 2:46 PM on May 4, 2004

Chicago may have a grid but it does have some wonderful oddities such as the diagonal streets cutting across the grid confusing things, Elston, Lincoln, Milwaukee, etc., and, my favorite, Wacker Drive which follows the curve of the river and has North, South, East, and West numbered addresses.

I grew up in London, obviously a non-grid city, and have (though it's somewhat faded from disuse) a mental map of the place which usually allows fairly efficient navigation. But the map was never perfect: I would sometimes discover that places I thought were far apart were really quite close. I was used to approaching each of them from a particular direction and had never quite noticed that they were other ways of getting between them.

My brother had a rather different method of navigation: he used pubs as landmarks, it had the added benefit that he was never thirsty.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 2:54 PM on May 4, 2004

Romakimmy, I actually lived in Venice for a while, and trying to track down addresses when looking for apartments was both a nightmare and an exercise in luck. Once you found an address number vaguely close to the one you were looking for, you could pretty much just follow along that side of the street until you got to your destination.

But finding that first vaguely close number was a bitch.

They claim they did it that way because it was easier for the postmen -- they'd just start at #1 of the sestiere and delivery mail to consecutive addresses until they hit #2600 or so, when they could stop.
posted by occhiblu at 2:55 PM on May 4, 2004

Jammer: close. I had in mind this area in the center of this map. I live just to the south of the "183" symbol on that map. That whole area between 183 and N. MoPac confused me because all of 183 I tend to think of as going east-west. Actually, looking at that map, you can see why those two freeways confuse my sense of direction along those two segments. In general, if streets aren't going in the four cardinal compass directions, I get confused. Looking at that maps, I can't get over the fact that from 360 to Duval, 183 is actually going directly north-south! Not in my head. :) For those playing along at home, MoPac goes pretty much straight southward south of that interchange and so I think of it as N/S.

I've lived in this neighborhood for five years.

(Oh, as another derail, one Austinite to another, does your gf get confused by the two "Why-Am-I-Doing-This-Again-Racetracks of Doom" formed by the ramps on I-35 near Airport and another one on N. MoPac?)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:14 PM on May 4, 2004

Jester: isn't that because that short road is parallel to other roads and the expectation is that the numbering will be the same?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:16 PM on May 4, 2004

Utah is even more interesting because the numbering system for roads is statewide. In most places in the US, each city has its own set of numbered streets, from 1st on up, going either north-south or east-west. The intersecting streets are frequently a repeating set of streets named in alphabetical order. (here in Boulder, after trees: Aspen, Balsam, Cedar, etc..)

To contrast, in Utah, every road in the entire state is on the same gigantic grid, and every street is numbered. This has the advantage of any address being uniquely geographically defined within the state, with no city name required, but the disadvantage of fantastically long addresses and very boring street names.

The opposite of this is the absolutely infuriating practice of many new subdivisions that create a whole set of little U-shaped roads off one main road, and name them all alike but for the "type". So, driving along this main road looking for someone living on "Carriage", you'll come to Carriage Road, then Carriage Road, again, then Carriage Lane, Carriage Lane, Carriage Court, Carriage Court, etc. Drives me f*king nuts.
posted by bradhill at 3:40 PM on May 4, 2004

In the City of Arlington, Virginia, has named their streets in an alphabetic & syllabic way. You can find your way by checking the first couple of letters and the number of syllables in the street name. So, There's Queen, followed by Quinn, Rolfe, Scott, Taft, Troy, Veitch, Wayne (all one syllable), then Adams, Barton, Cleveland, Danville, Daniel, Edgewood, Fillmore ... etc.
posted by crunchland at 3:49 PM on May 4, 2004

Does your gf get confused by the two "Why-Am-I-Doing-This-Again-Racetracks of Doom" formed by the ramps on I-35 near Airport and another one on N. MoPac?

Not terribly, but she gets reliably befuddled by the near U-turn that the north Mopac feeder road makes under the 183 flyover.

The one that always gets me, because I work in the area is that both Burnet and Braker cross Lamar... and Burnet crosses Braker as well. The biggest thing that threw me, when I moved here, though, was the never-ending service roads. Out east, when you exit a freeway, you usually get dumped onto a perpendicular road, not a parallel one.

And, just to be a little on-topic in this thread, in the small NC town I grew up in, we lived on 117 Church Road for several years. This was a locally-indexed number which was pretty close to an exact house count. Then the county decided to "modernize" street numbering and we were assigned 5659 Church Rd. 152 seemed much more small-town, and I hated the new number.

Now my parents live at 9xxx NC 62 S. The problem is that the "South" is derived because it's south of Yanceyville in Caswell county, whereas the actual municipality, as far as the USPS is concerned, is Burlington... and there's a 9xxx NC 62 S south of Burlington, in Alamance County, too. The Caswell County and Alamance County sequences are only distinguished by the last digit of the zip code. Mail to them frequently gets misdirected.
posted by jammer at 4:02 PM on May 4, 2004

(er... 117 seemed, not 152. Not sure where that came from)
posted by jammer at 4:04 PM on May 4, 2004

Out east, when you exit a freeway, you usually get dumped onto a perpendicular road, not a parallel one.

Same out west. Austin's just weird. (Or is it all of Texas?)
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:10 PM on May 4, 2004

Austin's just weird. (Or is it all of Texas?)

It must be a general Texas thing. I know the bits of Houston I've been to are like that, and there are stretches of 35 where you can follow the highway for uninterrupted miles on the feeder. ISTR that San Antonio isn't quite as bad that way, but it's been a while since I've been down there and don't remember very well.
posted by jammer at 4:16 PM on May 4, 2004

It's a Texas thing, because W. Texas cities are pretty reliable about this, too.

I've really come to like and rely on it. Especially the u-turn lanes at each underpass. Those are really handy.

Mars, you understand that what he means, the parallel roads in question, the "feeder roads", parallel each side of the freeway? They're not like regular roads, they're part of the freeway system.

How do ramps to a perpendicular road work when it's to the leftward direction?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:28 PM on May 4, 2004

Is that really true about all of Utah, Bradhill? Because that really blows my mind. It does say something about the history of the state that that was even possible.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:29 PM on May 4, 2004

ethereal: I remembered noticing the same thing went I went through Utah. The numbers get really crazy-big out toward the edges of the state.

I visit Austin two or three times a year, which is often enough to know how to get around but not so often that I have stopped feeling surprised by its unusual highway design. If you'll pardon the cliche, it's just so damned big: u-turn lanes the length of entire city blocks, access roads the size of normal highways, highways wide enough to drag-race space shuttles. The exit ramps are always a mile or two longer than I think they ought to be, and having to go through three stoplighted intersections just to turn left onto a freeway cracks me up.

How do ramps to a perpendicular road work when it's to the leftward direction?

In a standard cloverleaf, the exit ramp splits; the left fork passes under the overpass, then travels up and around a 270-degree curve to join the perpendicular road across the overpass. In a simpler junction, like you see in less-busy rural areas, the single exit ramp ends at an intersection on the cross-road. You just turn left at the intersection and cross the freeway on the overpass.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:49 PM on May 4, 2004

That happens for every exit??
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:41 PM on May 4, 2004

Re: The streets with different endings...

In Milwaukee there's a place where three streets with the same name meet. This is called (by my friends at least) The Loomis triangle.
posted by drezdn at 10:25 PM on May 4, 2004

New York City just uses unhelpful consecutive numbering. So 100 Fifth Ave is several blocks away from 120 Fifth Ave .

This rule of thumb only applies to the avenues in Manhattan. Numbered Manhattan streets are divided into East and West numbers, and the dividing line is Fifth Avenue. So 2 W. 32nd Street is between Fifth and Sixth, just west of Fifth Avenue. (And it's also the address of a damn good Korean restaurant.)

To figure the cross street for a given address on an avenue is best accomplished via Mapquest. ;-) It's easier than this method.

Now in my section of Queens (Astoria), it's different. We still have streets and avenues, but they're turned 90 degrees. Streets run (roughly) north-south, and avenues run (roughly) north-west. (And, just like Manhattan, distances between streets are relatively short, while distances between avenues are relatively long.) The main difference here is that roads parallel to, but between, avenues have different you can be driving up 21st Street, and encounter 30th Avenue, 30th Drive, 30th Road, 30th Place, and then come to 31st Avenue.
posted by Vidiot at 10:47 PM on May 4, 2004

In my old NC stomping grounds, I'd often get onto Lystra Church Road, and then hang a left onto Farrington Road, and then hand a right onto Farrington Road, and then hang a right onto Farrington Road.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:21 AM on May 5, 2004

13956 Hummingbird Circle, Choctaw, Oklahoma.
posted by davidmsc at 4:40 AM on May 5, 2004


Every road in the entire state of Utah is not on a single giant grid.

The Salt Lake City metro area (including, I think, all of Salt Lake County) is on a single grid. You can follow I-15 about 20 miles from North Salt Lake (10000 north?) south through Salt Lake City, Murray, Midvale, Sandy, and Draper (12600 south) and it's all in the Salt Lake grid, although several of the cities along the way have "historical" addresses with their own grids.

After that, going south, you get to Lehi, American Fork, Pleasant Grove, Orem, and Provo, each of which has its own separate grid system. Note that at this point you've still got 2/3 of Utah to traverse before you reach Nevada. Down south, Cedar City and St. George each have their own grid.

Going East toward Wyoming, you reach Park City (home of Sundance) , which has its own grid system. Going West, you reach Grantsville, Tooele, and about 6 other cities, each of which has its own zero coordinate and its own grid.

Geographically, the portion of Utah that is on a gigantic grid is probably about 1/100 of the state. On this map it's the blob in the upper middle labeled Salt Lake County.

posted by mmoncur at 4:45 AM on May 5, 2004

Rather than indicating a point on a line, Tokyo's system is a series of increasingly fine-grained targets.

The Japanese occupation of Korea (and its attempts to utterly destroy Korean culture) left the Japanese system of addresses in its wake here, along with a multitude of other things, and fucking annoying it is too. It's almost impossible to find a building based on its address in Korea, unless you already know where it is.

Incredibly aggravating.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:08 AM on May 9, 2004

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