How many NYC blocks space there in a mile? It counts 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 also walk them faster—than anyone else in the country. We can’t help it. We’ve obtained long roadways (which in Manhattan operation east-west) and long opportunities (which operation north-south). Yet how numerous NYC blocks are in a mile?
The average length of a north-south block in Manhattan runs approximately 264 feet, which method there are around 20 blocks per mile.
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But what around the lengths that the blocks between avenues? no so reliable. Generally speaking, the distance between methods is about 750 feet, which means about 7 east-west blocks per mile. However there’s some major variance.
If we’re talking about the area extending from Houston Street come 155th Street, i m sorry is the main area the Manhattan’s street grid, then these space your numbers:
The street between first and 2nd avenues is 650 feet, while that between 2nd and third Avenues is 610 feet. The blocks between third and Sixth avenues ratchet up to 920 feet. And finally, block length in between Sixth and Twelfth avenues is 800 feet.
How do we account because that the variability? Look come the times. When the Commissioners’ setup of 1811 (more ~ above this later) laid the end a proposal for the now-famous gridiron the Manhattan, sector looked rather a little bit different. Follow to the “Encyclopedia of brand-new York City,” blocks along the Hudson and East river waterfronts were built closer with each other in anticipation the increased advancement — much more opportunities because that water-adjacent property. Avenues were designated long and large to make room because that vehicles favor the omnibus, or horse-bus — one old-school, horse-drawn form of massive transit.
The size of Manhattan Blocks was Determined earlier in 1811
It all goes ago to the Commissioners’ Plan.
Around 1800, the usual Council of new York — “City Council” this days — surveyed lower Manhattan and also decided the its anarchic layout, organically forged through animal paths and also the whims that wanderings, can use part regulation. Lock soon compelled that any new streets receive approval, and levied fees from building owners to preserve their regional streets.
But as NYC grew, competing viewpoints on furthering breakthrough logjammed any type of progress, and the city turned to the state legislature because that aid. What it obtained was a commission imbued through “exclusive power to lay out streets, roads, and also public squares…
Years the surveying commenced. What the commission arrived at was so tried-and-true that the old Egyptians had relied top top it: the gridiron.
How the NYC Street Grid came to Be
The rectangle-shaped grid may not be sexy, however it sure works. The plan — the Commissioners’ setup of 1811, that is — was simple:
Straight streets and also avenues need to intersect at best angles. There to be to it is in 12 north-south avenues, and also as many numbered cross roads as needed. The grid would be tilted 29 levels east of true north, to account for Manhattan’s angling.
Map of the Commissioners’ setup of 1811. (Click come enlarge.)
Unlike the east-west numbered streets, which operation 60 feet wide, certain crosstown highways were offered increased width to serve as thoroughfares. Their numbers won’t be surprising: 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, 96th, 106th, 116th, 125th, 135th, 145th, and also 155th streets space each 100 feet wide. (Nowadays, 106th, 110th, and 116th highways run 100 feet broad in some places and also 60 feet in others.)
To actually develop the grid, 1,549 marble markers were put at each intersection. And also though the procedure faced vandalism by disgruntled property owners, constant legal bickering, and also environmental obstacles, the city acquired built. It take it 60 years because that the network to with 155th Street, yet it ultimately did.
The Longest and Shortest NYC Blocks
As for the longest NYC block? Take your pick, as long as it’s between Fifth and Sixth avenues, wherein block size runs approximately 920 feet.
And the shortest? it’s a toss-up: Edgar Street in between Trinity Place and also Greenwich Street, about the corner from the brand-new York stock Exchange, is 64 feet long. Around as brief is Mill Lane between South wilhelm Street and stone Street, eastern of Bowling Green, i beg your pardon is so short it boasts no addresses.
Is the Manhattan Street Grid democratic or Ugly?
If over there is a kind of beautiful pragmatism to Manhattan’s grid, then that’s the just beautiful thing about it. At the very least that initially seemed to it is in the consensus.
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Marguerite Holloway, in her biography of john Randel Jr., the grid’s designer, points the end that at its inception, the grid was developed to highlight the idea the the “government ought not to act in such a method as to develop inequality of unique privilege.” The grid is the every-person’s shape. That democratic.
The artists disagreed. Walt Whitman stated Manhattan’s highways were “the last thing in the world consistent with beauty of situation.” Edith Wharton dubbed it “hidebound in its deadly uniformity of mean ugliness.” Henry James lamented that the arrangement didn’t capitalize ~ above Manhattan’s herbal topography, saying it was “the uncollected labor of minds through no imagination of the future and blind prior to the opportunity provided them through their two magnificent waterfronts.”
Even thinker Jean-Paul Sartre chimed in: “Amid the numerical anonymity of streets and avenues, i am merely anyone, anywhere, since one place is so like another. Ns am never astray, but always lost.”
Today, of course, new Yorkers and visitors alike storage the grid for being straightforward to navigate. And also some large thinkers did see a worthy target in that imposition of order. “