# House Number Question (Street Address)

The “Philadelphia” system of having addresses correspond to numbered streets is predominant in the US, but Manhattan and San Francisco are very prominent exceptions. There are lots of places in the East that start over with 1 on each new street, like Boston, but few of them have areas of numbered streets. Even though Chicago had numbered streets from 1861, it didn’t adopt the Philadelphia house numbering system until 1880.

I think that’s restricted to Queens. It’s merely a local variant of the Philadelphia system, telling you that 38-12 will be found between 38th and 39th.

What I mean about New York is that the street numbering in Manhattan does not use the pattern of 100 theoretical addresses per block: Obviously, if an address such as 2078 is up north in Harlem, a different pattern (10 per block?) must be the one used.

That’s explained in the first half of my response. Generally, you divide a Manhattan avenue address by 20 and add a fudge factor that roughly corresponds to how far uptown the avenue begins. Algorithm here.

The second half is about the hyphenated addresses.

Is there anything still unclear to you?

Not now! Thanks. According to this table, the Collyers’ house would have been off 127th Street.

Yes they do, but for streets running east-west, starting with Fifth Avenue. So the addresses between 5th and 6th Aves will be below 100, between 6th & 7th will be 100-199, etc. (With each address designated as either East or West.)

That sounds like you’re saying that the addresses westward from Fifth Avenue, The Avenue of the Americas, Seventh Avenue, etc., if I understand aright, follow that pattern. Well, then, what about the Street addresses eastward of Fifth Avenue (Fourth, Third, etc.)? And what about the interrruption by Central Park (in Avenues’ or Streets’ addresses)?

When I was doing home deliveries in Birmingham (UK not Alabama) I never had any great problem with all this. There are only thee roads where numbers go higher than 1000 for a start, and on most streets the lowest number is nearest the city centre.

With experience, one soon learned which side of the main roads were odd/even and on minor roads, it was easy to see. My biggest problem came from the fact that there is no law that says anyone has to display their street number. Most households do, although it can often be hard to see, but few shops show any number at all. I often found myself driving along, counting up from the last known number to find the premises that I was looking for (The name over the door was not always the addressee). The other minor annoyance was that there was sometimes no number 13 - thus throwing my count off.

Of course the advent of satnavs has made it all much easier, provided, of course, that the correct postcode is on the address.

Is it common in the USA to omit house number 13?

The numbers on both sides of Fifth Ave increase as you move away from Fifth, those going west are designated as West whatever street, and those going east are East whatever street. Central Park just becomes the divider at 59th St.

From this site:

West Side: Above 59th Street
Building # Avenues
1-99 Central Park West and Columbus
100-199 Columbus and Amsterdam
200-299 Amsterdam and West End
300-399 West End and Riverside Drive

West Side: Below 59th Street
Building # Avenues
1-99 5th and 6th Avenues
100-199 6th and 7th Avenues
200-299 7th and 8th Avenues
300-399 8th and 9th Avenues
400-499 9th and 10th Avenues
500-599 10th and 11th Avenues
East Side Addresses
Building # Avenues
1-49 5th and Madison
50-99 Madison and Park Ave Park is 4th Ave below 14th
100-149 Park and Lexington
150-199 Lexington and 3rd
200-299 3rd and 2nd Avenues
300-399 2nd and 1st Avenues
400-499 1st and York York is Ave A below 14th
500-599 Ave A and Ave B

Thanx

Oh–are there streets here and there that don’t fit any of the patterns?

Outside the US, lots of places. Tokyo for example has a complicated non-sequential system. In some parts of Scotland houses are assigned numbers in order of construction.

In the US, an example of atypical numbering is Carmel-by-the-Sea, California where there are no street numbers at all. Houses have “cottage names” if anything.

I mean in Manhattan.

We use 500 addresses per mile as a standard. Odds on the left, evens on the right as you face the direction that the numbers are ascending. If a lot is on a corner then the number is taken from the roadway where the lot has its primary driveway. If the corner lot takes its number from the side road this can result in a number that seems out of sequence relative to number on the main road (i.e. 7 Oak Lane coming at the start of the 800 block of Main St)

Each lot is assigned an address number. Additional apartments or structures at that lot are designated with letters. This makes it really complicated when a developer does not subdivide a new development into multiple lots. We have one such area with about 50 houses, with addresses like 57A Charity Drive, 57B, 57C… until they start using double letters 57AA, 57BB, 57CC…)

There are streets in Greenwich Village that might not fit the patterns. Some run diagonal instead of a grid, and some even bend around. Not sure how the numbers run though.

Well, this isn’t Manhattan, but I can speak from experience don’t EVER let the developer assign the addresses. We have a condo complex that has the first floor address as 9000, the second floor as 90,000. What a mess.

The first large scale urban plan in Manhattan was the Commissioners Plan of 1811, and it only affected areas above Houston street. The layout of lower Manhattan isn’t too different from the layout of the original settlement, and includes streets that run every which way. I have to assume the building numbers are customary and follow no particular plan. It seems to be though, that the rule that “house numbers increase in the northward direction” is still generally true in the financial district (the oldest part of manhattan).

In San Francisco, house numbers use the method that Colophon describes: wherever the street starts is number 1, and it goes until the street ends. My street is only 2 blocks long, so the house numbers only go up to 199. Then it curves a little, becomes another street, and the numbers start over again at 1.

Add the complication that there are both numbered avenues and numbered streets. They don’t cross anywhere (I don’t think they do, anyway). But when I first got here I was trying to get to an address that said something like “150 3rd” in the phone book (yes, it was a long time ago) and I thought it was 3rd Ave, but it was 3rd St. I found out later that they print “Av” in the phone book if appropriate, but not “St.”

Everyone seems to be used to it. I think it’s a lot less of an issue now with maps on our smart phones making it easy to find anywhere.
Roddy