Street Grid system in cities around the country

In response to the article about the Chicago street system:

Miami. It actually has a very good street grid system. I haven’t lived there since 2005 so I may get this wrong, but if memory serves the Avenues run north and south and the Streets run east and west. If you see a SW (south west) or NE (North East) in front of the street number you know where in the grid to start (everything is pretty much divided into 4 quadrants by major highways). The grid system works all the way down to Homestead where some of the numbers start over, but you learn pretty quick both names for each street. The only place I remember in Miami that DIDN’T follow the grid numbering system was Coral Gables, which is a suburb-like community within Miami where there are pretty trees, the Biltmore hotel, and lots of homes I could never have afforded. Also, if you watch Burn Notice, I’m pretty sure it is the location of the exterior of the home of Madeline (Michael’s mom). Its streets are named things (not numbers) and I always used to get lost there b/c that is where the Children’s hospital was (asthmatic kid=trips to children’s hospital). Also, I think some parts of Miami Beach are named non-number things, but again being a mommy-type I didn’t venture into that part of the city too often.

As for Chicago, I lived in Arlington Heights and didn’t have to go to the city often. My husband worked on Wacker Dr., so he was far more experienced with the way the streets worked in downtown. In Arlington Heights all you really needed to know was how to get on the tollway, Golf, Arlington Heights Rd., and well you get the idea. Nowadays you don’t really have to know anything. You just need a Garmin. We went on vacation up that way last year and if it hadn’t been for Garmin we’d have never found the stuff we were looking for.

Oh and just another little tidbit of information you will probably never need: as cities go Miami and Chicago have what I would call “opposite climates”. It is not that Chicago doesn’t get hot in the summer, oh no. The year I lived there over 500 ppl died b/c they baked in their apartments with no AC. But that same year it had the LONGEST and COLDEST winter I’d ever experienced. Even the local natives were complaining it was startlingly cold for Chicago. We had a period where water mains were freezing and bursting downtown b/c it was 20 below. And the winter lasted, I kid you not, EIGHT MONTHS.

So then we move to Miami and discover that there are 3 days in January where it gets so cold you have to wear a coat. And summer there lasts for, yep, eight months. I’m not sure what you would call the other season in Miami. Technically folks down there don’t really call it summer or winter. They go by wet season or dry season. Or hurricane season and then whatever people do when the Dolphins aren’t playing. But it can’t be fall b/c the leaves never turn and then drop off the trees and it can’t be spring b/c the leaves never turn and fall off the tress…so they can’t come back. And if you said winter…well people would just laugh at you.

I was trying to find an address in Tokyo and the house numbers were all scrambled. I was told they number the houses sequentially as to when they were built. First house on street = 1, etc. Taxi drivers must all have navi systems…

For other comments and the original question, see also:

350 Park Avenue means a lot to me – it’s the address of our corporate office!

As Cecil noted, when the 3 different systems run together here in Seattle, all sorts of confusion results. We have weird triangular shaped blocks and streets that don’t quite line up. ALso, a street can change names 3 or 4 times as you are driving along. Pay attention!

I have a neumonic that I tell my out-of-town students on how to keep track in downtown Seattle. From south-to-north there are double starting letters: J-J (Jefferon & James), C-C (Cherry & Columbia), M-M (Madison & Marion), S-S (Seneca & Spring), U-U (University & Union), and P-P (Pike & Pine). J-J, C-C, M-M, S-S, U-U, P-P ~ Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest. Simple!

Cecil, There is more to NYC than Manhattan! Queens has a numbering system that references the cross-streets. 39-53 47th Ave, for instance, is on a block by 39th St… It’s still a nightmare to navigate, because there are also a numbered Drives, Roads & Places, which I can’t figure out for the life of me. But the point is: There’s more to NYC than just Manhattan!

Sacramento has a pretty good grid in much of the city. Numbered streets run N-S, letters run E-W. Each block has its own corresponding numbers (i.e., from 8th Street to 9th Street is the 800 block, and all addresses on that block are in the 800s… same is true for addresses between H Street and I Street, which are the 8th and 9th letters in the alphabet).

So, if you are looking for 1550 11th Street, you can do some counting and figure out that it is on 11th and the nearest cross street is O Street (15th letter in the alphabet), and its probably mid-block because it’s half way between 1500 and 1600.

It’s the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the grid system in Chicago!,0,121028.story

You don’t really want to bring an area with a crazy-quilt street layout (or what Cecil called “colliding grid syndrome”) into a discussion on orderly street grids. There’s more to NYC than Manhattan, of course, but at least there’s only one grid in Manhattan — and it looks to be geographically larger than any of the dozens of sub-grids than make up Brooklyn & Queens.

In Miami, CRAP runs north and south. That’s Courts, Roads, Avenues, and Places. Everything else (streets and the like) run east and west. The trick in Miami is that everything has an official name that follows the rules (SW 40th Street) and then there’s the name that all the locals call it (Bird Road), which follows no rule at all. It also happens to be State Road 976. I think they do that just to watch the tourists get lost. If some of the wander into a firefight, well there’s plenty more where that came from. When you can figure out that Tamiami Trail at Red Road means SW 8th Street (A.K.A. US 41) and SW 57th Avenue (A.K.A. SR 959), you’ve arrived. (Yeah, I had to look that up.)

All of South Florida suffers from the colliding jurisdiction problem. A hundred little farming towns grow into giant suburbs and when the streets bump into each other they all have different names and numbers. If you can drive five miles on one street in Palm Beach or Broward Counties without it changing names twice you’re doing pretty good.

The grid in Portland, Oregon is easy-peasy. There are a few deviations, but except for the West Hills (we keep hoping all the rich yuppies who live up there will get lost on their confusing, twisty streets, but they keep coming back down) it’s pretty Cartesian.

Seattle, conversely, is a clusterf**k rivaling DC. Though in fairness to both Seattle and the Portland hills, the street confusion in those places is a result of irregular topography.

Portland is deceptive, though: The grid reached a peak of absolute perfection in the NW quadrant (Portland has five “quadrants”–NW, SW, SE, NE, and N), where not only are there perfectly numbered avenues/addresses, but where the street names proceed in alphabetical order: Burnside, Couch, Davis, Everett, Flanders, Glisan… So you don’t necessarily need to be able to remember Davis St. and Quimby St. by name; you just need to know it’s that “D” street and that “Q” street; or, hearing an address, you can immediately guess where in the city it is (i.e., 2300 Vaughn St. is pretty far north–and west–; 400 Burnside is right near the center of town.

The deceptive part: the grid and naming system falls apart outside of NW. In SW, the grid and numbering is mostly intact, but the naming is non-alphabetical. On the East side, some of the streets continue across from the West side of the river, but most do not. The numbered avenues maintain their excellent precision (continuing, in fact, far out of the city proper), but the other streets fall into angles and tangles just enough to make the grid an unreliable prospect. Alas, so close.

It’s worse than that. The whole Japanese address system is very different from almost anywhere in the world. The vast majority of streets do not have names, because addresses are not based on house number/street name. Instead, addresses are based on a system of areas containing smaller areas, until you get to an area no bigger than a few blocks. Then you get to the house numbers, which, as you say, are numbered in order of construction.

Generally, larger areas are named, smaller areas are numbered.

We can imagine this idea if we were say, for example, that someone lives in Illinois, Chicago, Rogers Park, and then in, say, division 10 of Rogers Park, and then in block 2 of division 10. And then his house number is 8 because it was the eighth house built on that block.

Indeed, that’s exactly how our property records are written. If you have a deed, it will describe your property as Lot 8 of Block 14 of Martin’s Addition to the Town of Lake View, being a resubdivision of the Southeast Quarter of the Southwest Quarter of Section 7 of Township 40 North, Range 12 East.

In New Orleans, the streets follow the contours of the Mississippi River. There is no alphabetical naming of streets or logical numbering. Almost everything is suffixed by “Street”, unless the sign says “Avenue”.

The main street is Canal Street, which separates uptown from downtown. Near the river, all of the streets change names at Canal St. and the numbering starts at 100 in either direction. When you get away from the river, the names remain the same, but you have North on one side and South on the other side, the North streets being NE of Canal and the South streets being to the SE. But because the streets turn with the river, the North Streets are really East of the South streets.

Because of this, nobody uses compass directions…you head toward the lake, or make a U-Turn and head toward the river. You can also turn toward uptown or downtown.

If you follow St. Charles Avenue (mostly) south from Canal Street 19 blocks, you’ll encounter First Street, then Second through Eighth, skipping Fifth, which is called Washington Avenue. Then there are no more numbered streets.

Because of all of the curves in these streets that follow the river, there are a lot of triangles where the cross streets come together and end in a point. Using “blocks” as a unit of measure is useless because the distance between cross streets could be anywhere from 15 feet to 200 yards.

There are also a lot of streets that aren’t continuous because a random cemetery will interrupt for a couple of blocks. There are many, many cemeteries.

Many streets are named after governors or mayors or other prominent people and landowners, and depending on the era they were in office, the name could be either Spanish or French. None of the street names are pronounced the way they are spelled or the way they were originally pronounced. Sometimes the word “Saint” is used as a prefix before a name even though the street wasn’t named for a real Catholic saint.

Unless you have a lot of experience driving in New Orleans, you need a good map or a GPS to find your way around.

I’ve learned one of the worst, so whenever I visit another city, I can figure out how to get around pretty quickly.

There’s a vaguely similar issue in Montreal. There is a grid system, but it follows the geography of the Saint Lawrence River: One part of the grid is a set of streets parallel to the river, the other part is a set of streets perpendicular to it. Parallel streets are called east/west and perpendicular streets are called north/south, because that is the general tendency of the river. But actually in the vicinity of the city, the river flows more diagonally, and almost north. So the so-called east/west streets really are almost north/south by the compass, and vice-versa.

Sometimes what people say is “Montreal is the only city where the sun sets in the north.”

Probably not as screwed up as some of the towns listed here, but the folks of Rockford Illinois are proud of their quirky mess.

You know you are in Rockford when you are at the intersection of 12th Street and 9th Avenue and the nearest house is numbered 1657.

Rockford has streets that change their name as they cross town, and there are streets that are discontinuous and offset with the same name.
Something I had not seen elsewhere was every other street being consecutively numbered, with the intervening streets are named. This is what throws off the house numbers, btw.
I haven’t lived there for many years, any other Rockfordians online tonight?

Not only do the street names abruptly change in the town I grew up in, but the order of the names makes no sense. Driving along main street, the cross streets are named along the lines of: 1st Street, 2nd Street, Pine Street, 5th Street.

Edmonton neighbouring Strathcona both had simple grid systems. After an almalgamation and years of confusion with street and avenue names and numbers they have sorted some of it out and use the quadrants.
Calgary also uses a grid/quadrant system.

I just want to add a moderator note, to alert people that this thread was originally back in 2009, and was revived in post #12 by toadspittle. So, some of the earlier posters may no longer be around to see your comments or respond. No problem, that’s perfectly OK, I just don’t want anyone upset if they’re not getting responses from the two-year-old posts.