Even and odd street numbers

In http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_433.html, Cecil is wrong to say ‘having even and odd numbers on opposite sides of the street is an American practice’ - implying that it is not a British practice. In fact it is nearly universal in the UK.

I’m rather surprised at the mistake - I thought Cecil was infallible. Which is why I venture to correct such a small mistake. There are others in this article but I can’t be bothered for now…

Corrected your link GrahamAsher. Is 11 Downing Street next to 10 Downing Street, on the same side? Do you want to go down there and check it out?

P.S. This web page, discussing “an index to addresses in the London area recorded in The London book trades”, says

Um, so what happens when you get out into the middle of Australia where there are no numbers…untill recently. And how did they get these numbers? Why the local government measured how far away the driveway was from the nearest bitumin road. If the house never changes and more houses are built around do the put the numbers corresponding to the origional house or do they change the number??

What’s wrong with good old longitude and lattitude?

What’s wrong with it? For starters, it’s latitude.

Let me throw in a quote from english writer Saki, concerning cultural differences:

Just go to Costa Rica, one of the most advanced countries in Latin America. Postal addresses there consist of “200 meters west of the National Library” or “Across the Street from the Holiday Inn”.

In Ireland we use both systems of numbering - we are not obsessive about unimportant things like that.

I believe the British are like us. They don’t think it matters much, so long as you can find a house accurately. From the first two houses examined, the pattern is immediately obvious.

Your use of the word obsessive in this unimportant matter is interesting. Come, lie down on the couch. We will both learn a great deal. How long have you harbored these feelings of inadequacy?

One problem with latitude and longitude is that they change every now and then. OK, so do street signs, but not as often. I mean, do you use the North American datum of 1927, or of 1983?

I am afraid you missed my point. I said “we are not obsessive about unimportant things LIKE THAT.”

Of course, we are obsessive about many other unimportant things which are not like that. That is what makes the world such an exciting place. One man’s fish is another man’s poisson.

However, thank you for offering your couch. Some day, those nice men in white coats will untie me from my PC, and open the doors of my padded cell. Then we can sit and swap obsessions till the candles burn low.

I don’t know about Australia (land of sunshine and sharks :D), but here in the good ole U.S. of A., we have several ways of dealing with such issues. Oftentimes the street number roughly corresponds to how far down the block the house is located, i.e. my house is numbered 521, so it’s down from the end of the block about 20% the length of the block. As more houses are added, they get street numbers roughly corresponding to where they are down the block. Another way this is dealt with is by leaving room between numbers, i.e. instead of going sequentially 1, 2, 3, the houses are numbered 1, 5, 9, etc, which leaves room for additional numbers. A third way of dealing with street numbers when things get crowded is to add letters to the end, i.e. 521A and 521B. Another way I’ve seen (mostly in the eastern US) is to add 1/2, i.e. 521 1/2. And finally, there is the option as you mention of changing the number, although I’ve personally only seen this in areas where a small rural area starts turning into suburbia.