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How many NYC blocks room there in a mile? It counts on which direction you’re going. (Thomas Richter/EyeEm/Getty Images)


On average, new Yorkers walk much more miles per day — and also walk them faster—than anyone else in the country. Us can’t assist it. We’ve got long roadways (which in Manhattan operation east-west) and also long avenues (which run north-south). Yet how plenty of NYC blocks room in a mile?

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

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But what around the lengths the the blocks between avenues? no so reliable. Generally speaking, the street between opportunities is approximately 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 to 155th Street, i beg your pardon is the official area of Manhattan’s street grid, climate these are 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 third and Sixth methods ratchet up to 920 feet. And also finally, block length between Sixth and Twelfth methods is 800 feet.

How carry out we account for the variability? Look come the times. Once the Commissioners’ setup of 1811 (more ~ above this later) laid out a proposal for the now-famous gridiron the Manhattan, sector looked fairly a little bit different. Follow to the “Encyclopedia of brand-new York City,” blocks follow me the Hudson and also East river waterfronts were developed closer together in anticipation of increased breakthrough — an ext opportunities for water-adjacent property. Avenues were designated long and wide to make room for vehicles like the omnibus, or horse-bus — an old-school, horse-drawn kind of fixed transit.

The dimension of Manhattan Blocks was Determined back in 1811

It every goes back to the Commissioners’ Plan.

Around 1800, the typical Council of brand-new York — “City Council” these days — surveyed reduced Manhattan and decided that its anarchic layout, organically forged through animal paths and the whims of wanderings, might use some regulation. Castle soon compelled that any new streets get approval, and also levied fees from building owners to preserve their local streets.

But as NYC grew, competing viewpoints ~ above furthering advancement logjammed any kind of progress, and the city turned come the state legislature for aid. What it obtained was a board of directors imbued through “exclusive power to lay out streets, roads, and public squares… most conducive to public good.”

Years of surveying commenced. What the commission came down on was so tried-and-true the the ancient Egyptians had relied ~ above it: the gridiron.

How the NYC Street Grid involved Be

The rectangular grid may not it is in sexy, but it certain works. The arrangement — the Commissioners’ plan of 1811, that is — to be simple:

Straight streets and avenues must intersect at right angles. There to be to be 12 north-south avenues, and as plenty of numbered cross roads as needed. The grid would certainly be tilted 29 degrees east the true north, to account because that Manhattan’s angling.


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


Unlike the east-west numbered streets, which run 60 feet wide, specific crosstown highways were given increased broad 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 155th streets space each 100 feet wide. (Nowadays, 106th, 110th, and also 116th roadways run 100 feet vast in part places and also 60 feet in others.)

To actually develop the grid, 1,549 marble mite were put at every intersection. And though the process faced vandalism through disgruntled building owners, constant legal bickering, and also environmental obstacles, the city acquired built. It take it 60 years because that the net to reach 155th Street, however it lastly did.

The Longest and also Shortest NYC Blocks

As because that the longest NYC block? Take your pick, as lengthy as it’s in between Fifth and Sixth avenues, wherein block size runs up to 920 feet.

And the shortest? the a toss-up: Edgar Street between Trinity Place and also Greenwich Street, approximately the edge from the brand-new York share Exchange, is 64 feet long. Around as quick is Mill Lane in between South william Street and stone Street, eastern of Bowling Green, i beg your pardon is so quick it boasts no addresses.

Is the Manhattan Street Grid autonomous or Ugly?

If there is a sort of beautiful pragmatism to Manhattan’s grid, climate that’s the just beautiful thing about it. At the very least that originally seemed to it is in the consensus.

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Marguerite Holloway, in she biography of man Randel Jr., the grid’s designer, points the end that at its inception, the network was developed to show the idea the the “government ought not to action in such a way as to develop inequality of one-of-a-kind privilege.” The network is the every-person’s shape. It’s democratic.

The artist disagreed. Walt Whitman said Manhattan’s roadways were “the last thing in the people consistent with beauty of situation.” Edith Wharton referred to as it “hidebound in its deadly uniformity of median ugliness.” Henry James lamented the the setup didn’t capitalize ~ above Manhattan’s herbal topography, saying it was “the uncollected labor of minds through no creativity of the future and blind prior to the opportunity offered them by their 2 magnificent waterfronts.”

Even philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre chimed in: “Amid the number anonymity the streets and avenues, ns am just anyone, anywhere, because one ar is so prefer another. Ns am never astray, but constantly lost.”

Today, that course, brand-new Yorkers and visitors alike celebrate the grid for being basic to navigate. And also some huge thinkers did see a worthy target in the imposition the order. “ not to do the city right into a huge an equipment and man right into an automaton,” wrote French critic and philosopher Roland Barthes, “but to master the distances and orientations by the psychic … the each individual should be poetically the owner that the funding of the world.”—Hey, why not like aramuseum.org top top Facebook and also follow