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How countless NYC blocks space there in a mile? It counts on which 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 rather in the country. We can’t aid it. We’ve obtained long roads (which in Manhattan run east-west) and long opportunities (which operation north-south). Yet how many NYC blocks space 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 that the blocks in between avenues? no so reliable. Typically speaking, the street between opportunities is around 750 feet, which means about 7 east-west blocks per mile. However there’s some severe variance.

If we’re talking about the area stretching 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 an initial and 2nd avenues is 650 feet, while that between second and third Avenues is 610 feet. The blocks between 3rd and Sixth methods ratchet approximately 920 feet. And finally, block length between Sixth and also Twelfth methods is 800 feet.

How do we account for the variability? Look to the times. Once 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. According to the “Encyclopedia of brand-new York City,” blocks along the Hudson and East flow waterfronts were constructed closer together in anticipation of increased development — much more opportunities for water-adjacent property. Avenues were designated lengthy and large to make room for vehicles favor the omnibus, or horse-bus — an old-school, horse-drawn type of fixed transit.

The dimension of Manhattan Blocks was Determined back 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, might use some regulation. Castle soon forced that any new streets receive approval, and levied fees from residential property owners to keep their neighborhood streets.

But as NYC grew, competing viewpoints ~ above furthering advancement logjammed any progress, and the city turned come the state legislature because that aid. What it acquired was a commission imbued v “exclusive strength to lay the end streets, roads, and public squares… most conducive come public good.”

Years that surveying commenced. What the commission came down on was therefore tried-and-true the the ancient Egyptians had relied top top it: the gridiron.

How the NYC Street Grid pertained to Be

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

Straight streets and also avenues must intersect at appropriate angles. There were to be 12 north-south avenues, and also as countless numbered cross highways as needed. The grid would be tilted 29 levels east that true north, to account for Manhattan’s angling.


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


Unlike the east-west numbered streets, which operation 60 feet wide, particular crosstown streets were provided increased width to offer as thoroughfares. Your numbers won’t 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 116th streets run 100 feet wide in part places and also 60 feet in others.)

To actually construct the grid, 1,549 marble mite were inserted at each intersection. And though the procedure faced vandalism by disgruntled home owners, constant legal bickering, and environmental obstacles, the city got built. It took 60 years for the grid to with 155th Street, however it finally did.

The Longest and also Shortest NYC Blocks

As for the longest NYC block? Take her pick, as long as it’s between Fifth and Sixth avenues, where block size runs as much as 920 feet.

And the shortest? it’s a toss-up: Edgar Street between Trinity Place and Greenwich Street, approximately the edge from the brand-new York stock Exchange, is 64 feet long. About as short is Mill Lane between South wilhelm Street and rock Street, eastern of Bowling Green, i beg your pardon is so short it boasts no addresses.

Is the Manhattan Street Grid autonomous or Ugly?

If there is a sort of beautiful pragmatism come Manhattan’s grid, then that’s the just beautiful thing about it. At 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 at its inception, the network was produced to highlight the idea that the “government ought not to plot in together a way as to develop inequality of one-of-a-kind privilege.” The grid is the every-person’s shape. That democratic.

The artist disagreed. Walt Whitman stated Manhattan’s roads were “the last thing in the world consistent with beauty of situation.” Edith Wharton called it “hidebound in its fatal uniformity of average ugliness.” Henry James lamented the the setup didn’t capitalize top top Manhattan’s natural topography, saying it was “the uncollected labor of minds through no creativity of the future and blind before the opportunity provided them through their 2 magnificent waterfronts.”

Even thinker Jean-Paul Sartre chimed in: “Amid the numerical anonymity that streets and also avenues, ns am merely anyone, anywhere, due to the fact that one ar is so prefer another. I am never ever astray, but constantly lost.”

Today, the course, new Yorkers and also visitors alike memory the grid for being simple to navigate. And some large thinkers did check out a worthy target in that is imposition the order. “ no to make the city into a huge device and man into an automaton,” composed French critic and also philosopher Roland Barthes, “but to master the distances and orientations by the mental … that each individual should be poetically the owner the the capital of the world.”—Hey, why not favor rewildtv.com ~ above Facebook and also follow