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How countless NYC blocks space there in a mile? It relies on i m sorry 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. We can’t assist it. We’ve gained long highways (which in Manhattan operation east-west) and also long methods (which run north-south). But how plenty of NYC blocks room in a mile?

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

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But what about the lengths the the blocks between avenues? not so reliable. Typically speaking, the distance between methods is about 750 feet, which way about seven east-west blocks every mile. Yet there’s some significant variance.

If we’re talking about the area stretching from Houston Street to 155th Street, i beg your pardon is the official area that Manhattan’s street grid, then these space your numbers:

The street between first and 2nd avenues is 650 feet, while the between second and 3rd Avenues is 610 feet. The blocks between 3rd and Sixth opportunities ratchet as much as 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. As soon as the Commissioners’ setup of 1811 (more on this later) laid the end a proposal because that the now-famous gridiron the Manhattan, industry looked quite a little bit different. Follow to the “Encyclopedia of new York City,” blocks along the Hudson and also East flow waterfronts were constructed closer with each other in anticipation of increased advance — more opportunities because that water-adjacent property. Avenues were designated lengthy and broad to make room because that vehicles like the omnibus, or horse-bus — an old-school, horse-drawn type 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 brand-new York — “City Council” this days — surveyed lower Manhattan and also decided that its anarchic layout, organically forged through pet paths and the whims that wanderings, can use part regulation. They soon forced that any brand-new streets obtain approval, and also levied fees from home owners to maintain their regional streets.

But together NYC grew, contending viewpoints on furthering advance logjammed any progress, and also the city turned come the state legislature for aid. What it obtained was a the supervisory board imbued v “exclusive power to lay the end streets, roads, and public squares… most conducive come public good.”

Years of surveying commenced. What the commission arrived at was therefore tried-and-true that the ancient Egyptians had relied ~ above it: the gridiron.

How the NYC Street Grid came to Be

The rectangle-shaped grid might not it is in sexy, however it certain works. The setup — the Commissioners’ setup of 1811, that is — was simple:

Straight streets and avenues should intersect at appropriate angles. There were to be 12 north-south avenues, and also as many numbered cross highways as needed. The grid would 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 operation 60 feet wide, certain crosstown streets were provided increased width to offer as thoroughfares. Their 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 highways run 100 feet broad in part places and also 60 feet in others.)

To actually develop the grid, 1,549 marble mite were placed at each intersection. And also though the procedure faced vandalism by disgruntled residential or commercial property owners, consistent legal bickering, and also environmental obstacles, the city got built. It take it 60 years for the grid to reach 155th Street, but it ultimately did.

The Longest and also Shortest NYC Blocks

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

And the shortest? that a toss-up: Edgar Street in between Trinity Place and Greenwich Street, around the edge from the brand-new York stock Exchange, is 64 feet long. Around as short is Mill Lane in between South william Street and stone 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, climate that’s the just beautiful thing around it. At least that initially seemed to it is in 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 that the “government ought not to plot in together a method as to produce inequality of one-of-a-kind privilege.” The net is the every-person’s shape. It’s democratic.

The artists disagreed. Walt Whitman claimed Manhattan’s streets were “the last point in the human being consistent through beauty that situation.” Edith Wharton dubbed it “hidebound in its deadly uniformity of median ugliness.” Henry James lamented the the plan didn’t capitalize top top Manhattan’s natural topography, saying it to be “the uncollected job of minds with no creative thinking of the future and also blind before the opportunity offered them by their 2 magnificent waterfronts.”

Even thinker Jean-Paul Sartre chimed in: “Amid the number anonymity of streets and avenues, ns am just anyone, anywhere, due to the fact that one place is so favor another. Ns am never astray, but constantly lost.”

Today, that course, new Yorkers and also visitors alike memory the grid because that being easy to navigate. And some huge thinkers did watch a worthy aim in the imposition that order. “ not to make the city into a huge an equipment and man into an automaton,” wrote French critic and philosopher Roland Barthes, “but to understand the distances and also orientations by the mind … that each individual have to be poetically the owner the the resources of the world.”—Hey, why not favor rebab.net on Facebook and also follow