How many NYC blocks are there in a mile? It depends on i beg your pardon direction you’re going. (Thomas Richter/EyeEm/Getty Images)
On average, brand-new Yorkers walk an ext miles per day — and also walk them faster—than anyone rather in the country. We can’t help it. We’ve acquired long roadways (which in Manhattan operation east-west) and long avenues (which run north-south). But how plenty of NYC blocks room in a mile?
The average length of a north-south block in Manhattan runs around 264 feet, which means there are around 20 blocks every mile.
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But what around the lengths of the blocks in between avenues? not so reliable. Usually speaking, the distance between avenues is around 750 feet, which way about seven east-west blocks every mile. But there’s some serious variance.
If we’re talking around the area extending from Houston Street to 155th Street, i m sorry is the main area that Manhattan’s street grid, then these room your numbers:
The distance between very first and second avenues is 650 feet, while that between 2nd and 3rd Avenues is 610 feet. The block between third and Sixth methods ratchet up to 920 feet. And finally, block length between Sixth and also Twelfth avenues is 800 feet.
How perform we account for the variability? Look come the times. As soon as the Commissioners’ plan of 1811 (more ~ above this later) laid the end a proposal because that the now-famous gridiron of Manhattan, sector looked fairly a bit different. Follow to the “Encyclopedia of brand-new York City,” blocks along the Hudson and also East river waterfronts were developed closer together in anticipation of increased advancement — much more opportunities for water-adjacent property. Opportunities were designated long and wide to make room for vehicles like the omnibus, or horse-bus — one old-school, horse-drawn type of massive transit.
The dimension of Manhattan Blocks was Determined ago in 1811
It every goes back to the Commissioners’ Plan.
Around 1800, the usual Council of new York — “City Council” these days — surveyed reduced Manhattan and also decided that its anarchic layout, organically forged through animal paths and also the whims that wanderings, might use part regulation. Lock soon forced that any new streets receive approval, and levied fees from home owners to maintain their regional streets.
But together NYC grew, contending viewpoints ~ above furthering advancement logjammed any type of progress, and also the city turned to the state legislature for aid. What it gained was a board of directors imbued through “exclusive power to lay out streets, roads, and public squares…
Years of surveying commenced. What the commission landed on was therefore tried-and-true the the old Egyptians had actually relied on it: the gridiron.
How the NYC Street Grid concerned Be
The rectangle-shaped grid may not it is in sexy, however it certain works. The arrangement — the Commissioners’ arrangement of 1811, the is — was simple:
Straight streets and also avenues should intersect at right angles. There were to it is in 12 north-south avenues, and as plenty of numbered cross highways as needed. The grid would be tilted 29 levels east that true north, to account because that Manhattan’s angling.
Map that the Commissioners’ plan of 1811. (Click to enlarge.)
Unlike the east-west numbered streets, which operation 60 feet wide, specific crosstown highways were given increased broad to offer as thoroughfares. Your numbers i will not ~ 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 roadways run 100 feet large in part places and also 60 feet in others.)
To actually develop the grid, 1,549 marble markers were placed at each intersection. And also though the process faced vandalism by disgruntled residential or commercial property owners, constant legal bickering, and also environmental obstacles, the city obtained built. It took 60 years for the network to with 155th Street, but it ultimately did.
The Longest and Shortest NYC Blocks
As for the longest NYC block? Take your pick, as lengthy as it’s in between Fifth and Sixth avenues, whereby block size runs approximately 920 feet.
And the shortest? that a toss-up: Edgar Street between Trinity Place and also Greenwich Street, approximately the edge from the new York share Exchange, is 64 feet long. Around as brief is Mill Lane between South wilhelm Street and stone Street, eastern 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, climate that’s the only beautiful thing about it. At least that originally seemed to be the consensus.
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Marguerite Holloway, in she 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 no to action in such a method as to create inequality of unique privilege.” The net is the every-person’s shape. That democratic.
The artists disagreed. Walt Whitman claimed Manhattan’s highways were “the last thing in the people consistent through beauty that situation.” Edith Wharton referred to as it “hidebound in its deadly uniformity of average ugliness.” Henry James lamented that the plan didn’t capitalize ~ above Manhattan’s natural topography, speak it was “the uncollected labor of minds v no imagination of the future and also blind prior to the opportunity provided them through their two magnificent waterfronts.”
Even philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre chimed in: “Amid the number anonymity that streets and also avenues, i am simply anyone, anywhere, because one location is so prefer another. Ns am never astray, but always lost.”
Today, of course, new Yorkers and also visitors alike memory the grid for being straightforward to navigate. And some large thinkers did watch a worthy aim in that imposition of order. “