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How many NYC blocks space there in a mile? It depends on i m sorry direction you’re going. (Thomas Richter/EyeEm/Getty Images)


On average, brand-new Yorkers walk more miles per day — and also walk them faster—than anyone else in the country. Us can’t help it. We’ve gained long roadways (which in Manhattan run east-west) and also long methods (which run north-south). However how many NYC blocks are in a mile?

The average size of a north-south block in Manhattan runs around 264 feet, which method there are about 20 blocks every mile.

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But what around the lengths of the blocks in between avenues? not so reliable. Normally speaking, the street between avenues is approximately 750 feet, which method about seven east-west blocks per mile. But there’s some major variance.

If we’re talking around the area extending from Houston Street come 155th Street, i beg your pardon is the main area of Manhattan’s street grid, then these room your numbers:

The street between first and 2nd avenues is 650 feet, while that between second and third Avenues is 610 feet. The block between 3rd and Sixth methods ratchet as much as 920 feet. And also finally, block length in between Sixth and Twelfth methods is 800 feet.

How execute we account for the variability? Look to the times. Once the Commissioners’ arrangement of 1811 (more top top this later) laid out a proposal because that the now-famous gridiron the Manhattan, market looked fairly a little bit different. According to the “Encyclopedia of brand-new York City,” blocks follow me the Hudson and also East river waterfronts were constructed closer together in anticipation that increased breakthrough — much more opportunities because that water-adjacent property. Opportunities were designated lengthy and large to do room because that vehicles prefer the omnibus, or horse-bus — one old-school, horse-drawn type of massive transit.

The dimension of Manhattan Blocks was Determined earlier in 1811

It all goes ago to the Commissioners’ Plan.

Around 1800, the typical Council of new York — “City Council” this days — surveyed lower Manhattan and decided that its anarchic layout, organically forged through animal paths and the whims the wanderings, can use part regulation. Lock soon compelled that any brand-new streets receive approval, and also levied fees from residential or commercial property owners to maintain their regional streets.

But as NYC grew, contending viewpoints top top furthering advance logjammed any type of progress, and also the city turned come the state legislature because that aid. What it gained was a board of directors imbued v “exclusive power to lay the end streets, roads, and also public squares… many conducive to public good.”

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

How the NYC Street Grid concerned Be

The rectangular grid might not be sexy, yet it certain works. The arrangement — the Commissioners’ arrangement of 1811, the is — was simple:

Straight streets and avenues have to intersect at best angles. There to be to it is in 12 north-south avenues, and as many numbered cross highways as needed. The grid would certainly be tilted 29 levels east that true north, to account because that Manhattan’s angling.


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


Unlike the east-west numbered streets, which operation 60 feet wide, specific crosstown roads were provided increased width 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 155th streets room each 100 feet wide. (Nowadays, 106th, 110th, and 116th roadways run 100 feet broad in some places and 60 feet in others.)

To actually develop the grid, 1,549 marble mite were inserted at each intersection. And also though the process faced vandalism through disgruntled residential or commercial property owners, continuous legal bickering, and environmental obstacles, the city acquired built. It took 60 years for the net to reach 155th Street, but it lastly did.

The Longest and Shortest NYC Blocks

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

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

Is the Manhattan Street Grid autonomous or Ugly?

If over there is a type 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 in ~ its inception, the grid was developed to show the idea the the “government ought no to plot in together a method as to create inequality of one-of-a-kind privilege.” The network is the every-person’s shape. It’s democratic.

The artists disagreed. Walt Whitman stated Manhattan’s roadways were “the last thing in the human being consistent through beauty the situation.” Edith Wharton dubbed it “hidebound in its deadly uniformity of typical ugliness.” Henry James lamented that the arrangement didn’t capitalize ~ above Manhattan’s herbal topography, saying it was “the uncollected labor of minds with no creative thinking of the future and blind prior to the opportunity offered 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, due to the fact that one ar is so like another. I am never astray, but constantly lost.”

Today, that course, new Yorkers and visitors alike celebrate the grid for being easy to navigate. And some large thinkers did see a worthy aim in that is imposition of order. “ no to do the city into a huge maker and man into an automaton,” wrote French critic and also philosopher Roland Barthes, “but to grasp the distances and also orientations by the mental … that each individual must be poetically the owner the the funding of the world.”—Hey, why not choose moment-g.com ~ above Facebook and also follow