Five-digit street addresses

Why are addresses always five digits in newly built subdivisions?

For example, you have a street, say Winding Forest Terrace, that’s two blocks long, and the numbers start with 18601. What’s wrong with starting with, say, 1?

There’s no grid system or anything rational; they’re just new developments in outer suburbs.

(An earlier stage of this trend can be seen in Vienna, VA, built up mainly in the 1950s, which has no “unit blocks”: addresses start at 101.)

Many addressing systems use two baselines – one running east and west, the other running north and south. The address gives people an idea of how far the road is located from a baseline, making it easier to find a building or lot. An address of “18601” usually means the lot is located about 18.6 miles from the baseline. In baseline systems, streets that generally run north- south will have one set of suffixes, while streets that generally run east-west have another set. Salt Lake City and many other Utah cities take the baseline system to its limits, where street addresses and names are essentially just coordinates (“4550 East 6300 South” is a typical address in SLC.)

Occasionally, a baseline system is adopted for a county, but only a few municipalities adopt it. In Erie County, New York, only Hamburg, Orchard Park and Clarence use the Erie County address grid; other towns still use the quick n’ dirty Buffalo system, where street addresses start at “1” from the point of origination, and go up by a digit every 20 feet. The towns that use the grid have high address numbers, while the other towns have the traditional 1-2-7-9-12-13 sequencing.

With addressing systems that don’t use baselines, if street addresses on an existing road start at “1”, and a new road is built from the main road away from the original street, that road is given a new name. You end up with the confusing situation where streets change names frequently

Many suburbs purposely adopt a differnt system to establish their own identity from the city.

Some suburban systems are very confusing. For example one Chgo suburb has names like Golden Terrece One and Golden Terrece Two and Golden Terrece Three. Or Harvard Drive, Harvard Blvd, Harvard Lane.

The fire department and paramedics complain that it makes it very difficult to locate people with confusing addresses.

Another Chgo suburb does confusing things like you are going down Maple Rd cross Ogden Avenue and then the road becomes something like Jones Avenue. You would think Maple Rd would intersect Ogden but it doesn’t

Markxxx hit upon the right answer, it hampers emergency services. Police, fire and emergency personnel wasted critical time decifering addresses that have similar names. Cottonwood Road, Cottonwood Drive, Cottonwood Sreet, Cottonwood Boulevard, Cottonwood Lane, Cottonwood Court and Cottonwood Circle all have a similarity in their names. Add an excited reporting source attempting to report the address and confusion reigns. Some subdivisions used to like to name their streets with a portion of a nearby street name, add more subdivisions and more portions of nearby street names and once again more subdivisions and emergency service personnel are racing about trying to find where the emergency is.

Around here most post-1970 residential street names seem to include some reference to foxes or hunting.

I prefer the old-fashioned rectangular grid with numbered streets (which nobody uses any more; too “urban” I guess.)

My 1951-built suburban house has five digits. It’s quite common here, in fact. I grew up in an area where EVERYTHING was four digits, and it took quite a bit of getting used to these five digit thingies.

I think the baseline thing may work for my house. My address is 252**, and I’m almost exactly 2.5 miles from the old “Baseline Road” (now 8-Mile).

I was in Palm Desert, once, and I saw addresses that were in the 200,000’s!

I don’t know where they based it from, though. Maybe L.A.'s Main St.?

My brother’s address is 66126, but I know that he’s not 66.1 or 661 miles from a baseline. For his subdivision, they just tacked on the first 6. :rolleyes:

Here in Northern Virginia, every city and county have their own system. Within the confines of Fairfax County and the Potomac River, we have Fairfax Co., Arlington Co., the cities of Falls Church, Alexandria, Fairfax, Vienna, and Ft. Belvoir Army Base. Each has its own address system. Some use a certain street for their N/S and E/W baseline, some use the Potomac River as their baseline, usually east to west, but I think Fairfax Co. uses it for north to south (the river bends, dontcha know).

And Ft. Belvoir just uses building numbers; the hundreds generally indicate the “subdivision” (500’s are officers’ housing, 2300’s are E-3’s, 900’s are sargeants’ w/ families).

Funny that the OP mentioned Vienna, VA because that was going to be the subject of my post! I grew up there on a street that ran right down the town line, so that one side of the street was in Vienna (houses in the 900’s) and the other was in the county of Fairfax (houses in the 1800s). Probably pretty confusing to non-locals looking for an address. The town uses four quadrants, sort of like DC: NE,SE,NW,SW. The base point is maple ave. & center street. I once read that one of the groups that would like to see Vienna conform to the rest of the county is the fire/rescue/ambulance folks. Maybe it would be easier to sort and deliver mail as well. But I don’t know if the benefits are worth the hassle of changing all those house numbers, letterheads, address labels, etc.

minor nitpick to AWB: Vienna is a town, not a city, and Herndon and Clifton are also towns (don’t know about their numbering systems, though.)

Spokane, WA also uses baseline numbering; the north-south division street is appropriately named Division St. But according to my map, one mile is actually ~1500 numbers, not 1000.

Side note: Division starts out one way north, then it’s two-way, then it’s one-way south, then it’s two-way again. This is far too common here.

I wasn’t sure about Vienna. I knew it had it’s own address system, and it’s colored yellow on the ADC maps.

It’d be funny if Clifton has its own system too. It’s official boundaries are only about 1/4 miles square.

In Shasta County, CA, at least, four digit numbers are inside the city limits. Five digit numbers are county.
Helps the 911 operators decide who to send.