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How countless NYC blocks room there in a mile? It depends on i beg your pardon direction you’re going. (Thomas Richter/EyeEm/Getty Images)


On average, new Yorkers walk an ext miles every day — and walk them faster—than anyone else in the country. We can’t assist it. We’ve got long streets (which in Manhattan run east-west) and long avenues (which operation north-south). Yet how many NYC blocks space in a mile?

The average length of a north-south block in Manhattan runs roughly 264 feet, which way there are about 20 blocks per mile.

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But what about the lengths of the blocks in between avenues? no so reliable. Typically speaking, the distance between opportunities is approximately 750 feet, which method about seven east-west blocks per mile. But there’s some major variance.

If we’re talking about the area stretching from Houston Street come 155th Street, i m sorry is the official area that Manhattan’s street grid, then these space your numbers:

The distance between an initial and second avenues is 650 feet, while that between 2nd and 3rd Avenues is 610 feet. The blocks between 3rd and Sixth opportunities ratchet approximately 920 feet. And finally, block length in between Sixth and Twelfth opportunities is 800 feet.

How execute we account for the variability? Look to the times. As soon as the Commissioners’ arrangement of 1811 (more top top this later) laid the end a proposal for the now-famous gridiron of Manhattan, market looked fairly a little different. According to the “Encyclopedia of new York City,” blocks along the Hudson and also East river waterfronts were constructed closer together in anticipation of increased advance — an ext opportunities because that water-adjacent property. Methods were designated long and large to do room because that vehicles like the omnibus, or horse-bus — an old-school, horse-drawn form of mass transit.

The dimension of Manhattan Blocks to be Determined earlier in 1811

It all goes ago to the Commissioners’ Plan.

Around 1800, the common Council of new York — “City Council” this days — surveyed lower Manhattan and decided the its anarchic layout, organically forged through pet paths and also the whims of wanderings, could use some regulation. They soon compelled that any brand-new streets obtain approval, and also levied fees from residential or commercial property owners to maintain their local streets.

But together NYC grew, contending viewpoints ~ above furthering breakthrough logjammed any kind of progress, and also the city turned come the state legislature for aid. What it got was a commission imbued through “exclusive strength to lay out streets, roads, and also public squares… most conducive come public good.”

Years of surveying commenced. What the commission arrived at was so tried-and-true the the old Egyptians had actually relied on it: the gridiron.

How the NYC Street Grid came to Be

The rectangle-shaped grid might not it is in sexy, but it sure works. The plan — the Commissioners’ arrangement of 1811, the is — was simple:

Straight streets and also avenues should intersect at right angles. There to be to be 12 north-south avenues, and as countless numbered cross streets as needed. The grid would be tilted 29 degrees east of true north, come account for Manhattan’s angling.


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Map of the Commissioners’ arrangement of 1811. (Click come enlarge.)


Unlike the east-west numbered streets, which operation 60 feet wide, details crosstown roads were given increased broad to serve as thoroughfares. Their numbers i will not ~ be surprising: 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, 96th, 106th, 116th, 125th, 135th, 145th, and also 155th streets are each 100 feet wide. (Nowadays, 106th, 110th, and also 116th roadways run 100 feet large in some places and 60 feet in others.)

To actually develop the grid, 1,549 marble markers were inserted at each intersection. And also though the process faced vandalism by disgruntled residential property owners, constant legal bickering, and environmental obstacles, the city gained built. It took 60 years because that the grid to reach 155th Street, but it ultimately did.

The Longest and Shortest NYC Blocks

As because that the longest NYC block? Take her pick, as long as it’s in between Fifth and Sixth avenues, where block length runs approximately 920 feet.

And the shortest? the a toss-up: Edgar Street between Trinity Place and also Greenwich Street, around the edge from the new York stock Exchange, is 64 feet long. About as short is Mill Lane in between South wilhelm Street and stone Street, east of Bowling Green, which is so brief it boasts no addresses.

Is the Manhattan Street Grid democratic or Ugly?

If there is a kind of beautiful pragmatism come Manhattan’s grid, then that’s the only beautiful thing around it. At the very least that at first seemed to be the consensus.

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Marguerite Holloway, in she biography of man Randel Jr., the grid’s designer, points out that in ~ its inception, the network was created to highlight the idea the the “government ought not to plot in together a way as to create inequality of unique privilege.” The net is the every-person’s shape. The democratic.

The artist disagreed. Walt Whitman claimed Manhattan’s highways were “the last thing in the people consistent v beauty that situation.” Edith Wharton called it “hidebound in its fatal uniformity of median ugliness.” Henry James lamented the the arrangement didn’t capitalize top top Manhattan’s natural topography, speak it was “the uncollected job of minds through no creativity of the future and also blind before the opportunity offered them by their two magnificent waterfronts.”

Even thinker Jean-Paul Sartre chimed in: “Amid the numerical anonymity of streets and avenues, i am merely anyone, anywhere, due to the fact that one place is so favor another. Ns am never ever astray, but always lost.”

Today, the course, brand-new Yorkers and also visitors alike storage the grid for being easy to navigate. And also some huge thinkers did watch a worthy target in the imposition the order. “ no to make the city into a huge device and man right into an automaton,” created French critic and also philosopher Roland Barthes, “but to grasp the distances and orientations by the mind … that each individual should be poetically the owner the the resources of the world.”—Hey, why not favor neurosoup.org ~ above Facebook and follow