House Number Question (Street Address)

This thread inspired me to ask a question I’ve been pondering the last few days.

I live in a high-density neighborhood. I can almost touch my neighbors house if I lean out the window far enough. There is no room for additional building between homes. Yet the numbering system skips pairs of numbers. For example, I am number 1000. Across the street is 1001. Next door is 1004. Across from them is 1005. One house further down on my side is 1008, across from 1009. They skipped 1002/3, 1006/7, etc. This goes on throughout my neighborhood.

Why? What’s the benefit?

It’s possible the houses could be built on two adjacent lots, and your house actually occupies lots 1000 and 1002.

It could also be that, if you live on a directioned street (North Elm, for example), the city uses the skipped pairings on South Elm. That way fire and police dispatch knows which street even if the caller doesn’t.

I guess that’s possible, but these are not big lots at all. The neighborhood is new (about 4 years old) so it was definitely planned this way.

In my experience, house numbers are usually based on a hundreds-to-the-block system (300 block of Main Street, for example), and just distributed somewhat evenly along that 100-number allotment. If you kept the first part, but not the second, you’d wind up with a thousand houses in your town that all had addresses that started at the beginning of every 100-number range. I can’t tell you how often I’ve been looking for an address like 7294 Baxter Street and, upon finding the beginning of the 7200 block, thought, “okay, there’s still a little ways to go, because it’s almost to the end of this block.”

Missed the edit window, but my post #4 was in reply to Colibri, not silenus.

There aren’t any directional streets in this subdivision and there are only 8 - 10 houses on a side per block, on average.

In some places the house number is based on the distance from some set point, regardless of what number or how many streets are between adjacent lots. So it could just be that the size of your lots is just big enough to cause a number to be skipped every other house.

Related to this, I notice that in many American suburban developments, even streets that only have half a dozen houses (eg a small cul-de-sac or loop) will have numbers starting in the thousands.

I’ve just searched on Google Maps for a random example. Here.

I can see the logic in long streets having numbers incrementing at each cross street, but what is the logic in having, say, Driftwood Court there having numbers in the 2000s? On such a short street, why not just number the houses sequentially from 1? I assume it ties in with some nominal “grid”, but developments like this aren’t usually on a grid - the streets meander around in loops and curves much like, well, English streets. So how (and why) do they work it out?

This is most likely the case. It certainly is in the metro area I live in (Portland). Furthermore, we have very small blocks here. Most cities have 10 or 12 blocks to the mile, Portland has 16 or more (I don’t know exactly how many). But it means that sequentially numbered houses on one side of the street are very rare. In fact there’s only two circumstances that I know of where this happens. One is duplexes. Two or more houses built as a single building usually have sequential numbers if they aren’t labeled A, B, C…

The other is on nominally E-W streets that have a fairly long N-S segments (or vice versa). The N-S sections will sometimes have sequential numbers.

But in a street like that of the OP (and those are quite common among new neighborhoods), the numbers will skip just as the OP says.

They are on a grid; it’s a city-wide (actually a city/suburb-wide grid). Where I grew up in the Cleveland Ohio area, you could tell just how far south-south or east-west an address was simply by noting the number. Any given four digit number on a north-south street, of 2000 say, were on the same line running east-west.

Our block is based on a similar system: house numbers increment by four. There’s also 2021 and 2021 1/2 because the street is U-shaped and they started counting from two different ends.

Ultimately, it was just how it was planned.

The “American” system of house numbering is generally based on a point of origin, with a certain number of addresses per mile. Thus each 10 or 12 feet (usually) of street frontage is entitled to a number. If there are additional dwellings, they get subdivisions such as A, B, or Rear. If it’s a big modern subdivision with 50-foot-wide lots, many possible numbers will go unused.

It’s not so much a way of consecutively numbering houses as it is a coordinate system: the city as graph paper. This ideal is approached in cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, Tulsa, Albuquerque, Denver, Phoenix, and Portland. Some cities in the Mormon West even transcend that ideal with their “Lyman System,” in which addresses take the form 525 West 800 South St. Nothing more than geometry is needed to tell you which way to walk from the origin point downtown to reach such an address.

This, sometimes with the additional convolution that streets don’t always run orthogonal to the grid lines. But the numbering still follows the grid.

I grew up in a neighborhood where the numbering followed north-south and east-west grid lines, but the streets were at about 30/60 degrees from that. (Imagine cutting a piece of neighborhood out of a map, rotating that piece 30 degrees, and pasting it back down that way.) I grew up at address 13701. On the next block over, the address nearest to that was therefore several houses farther down the block.

I would like to say how much more logical the English sequential system is, but then I live on a crescent-shaped road with more than twice as many houses on the outside (odds) as there are on the inside (evens). So, opposite my house (no 48) you will find no 117. Nos 47 and 49 are right down the other end of the street, meaning a long walk when we invariably get the post intended for no 49.

On the plus side, we don’t have to spend as much on house numbers as this guy :slight_smile:

Good to know. Thanks!

It’s this way in Charlotte, on the macro-level, anyway. Address numbers are supposed get larger the further from the city center you get. In “uptown” (as it is called here), numbers are generally in the 3-digits. Out from that, a ring of 1000-range addresses, then 2000, then 3000. By the 9000 and 10000 ranges, you’re getting to the surrounding municipalities and the county line.

City addressing systems are often based on the ‘100’ block. With 1-100 spread out evenly with gaps between the numbers.

While your area may not have any room to subdivide, that’s often not the case. I do the addressing for Summit County Colorado, and we have some situations that due to growth and subdivision, there aren’t any numbers left.

Breckenridge is a good example of this. Years ago (WAY before my time) a thirteen lot block was numbered 1-13. Of course there’s more like 30 lots now. Makes for a mess.

Rural systems use the distance from the beginning of the road. Based in feet. In my county, it’s increases by 1 for each 5.28 feet (a division of the feet in a mile). This gives responders an idea of how down the road it is. In the city, it’s the same thing. If using the 100 block system, 50 would be in the middle of the block.

There are lots of reasons to not just address consecutively.

The system I don’t understand is that used in Manhattan. The Collyer brothers’ house, for example, was at 2078 Fifth Avenue (in Harlem). In Los Angeles such an address would be between 20th and 21st streets. And there are the addresses with dashes, which must be confusing to Westerners.

I lived in a place with sequential numbering starting at the beginning of the street and it was a mess.

E.g., delivery services had a huge map/index thing that allowed them to figure out where along a road a place would be. (So, for example, they knew what cross street would be nearest to come in on.) Ordinary people just had to guess.

Even with digital products, it’s still a problem. When I’ve checked on old haunts there Google Maps is almost certainly going to be off by quite a bit.

And then when there’s road construction and two roads now meet, the numbering system will confuse the naive who don’t realize that the numbers have changed for no obvious reason. If they had plotted a 100/1000 per mile layout at the beginning, no problem. (Such resets occur in all systems, but with sequential numbering they pop up all over the place at random. Not just jurisdiction changes or 0 mile points.)

Awesome. Thanks!