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Old 03-11-2002, 11:14 AM
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How long is a city block?

I know that they vary but is there a norm for the length of a city block? Or an average?
I never heard of any standard for this. Guess it depends on the city and the street layout.
I heard a Doctor on TV say that walking 10 blocks a day will get you started on the road to good health. I live in the country and have to convert to miles. So if I walk 2 miles how many city blocks did I cover?
Help me out here city dopers.
Thanks and it is good to be back.
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Old 03-11-2002, 11:19 AM
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I'm sure there are others, but the only place I know of that has a measured standard is New York City. In NYC, 20 city blocks make up a mile, so it's 264 feet or 88 yards.
Old 03-11-2002, 11:20 AM
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In Chicago, I believe 10 city blocks = 1 mile. So if you walked 2 miles you'd be walking the equivalent of 20 city blocks.
Old 03-11-2002, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by magdalene
In Chicago, I believe 10 city blocks = 1 mile. So if you walked 2 miles you'd be walking the equivalent of 20 city blocks.
I thought it was 8 blocks in Chicago = 1 mile.
Old 03-11-2002, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
I'm sure there are others, but the only place I know of that has a measured standard is New York City. In NYC, 20 city blocks make up a mile, so it's 264 feet or 88 yards.
That's only true for blocks running North and South in Manhattan. The blocks are longer east to west in Midtown, and I don't think it's a simple figure. I don't know about the other boroughs.


In Salt Lake City the blocks are all regular. In the "Avenues" they're even square, but I don't know the dimensions. They certainly aren't the same as NYC blocks.
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Old 03-11-2002, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by CalMeacham


That's only true for blocks running North and South in Manhattan. The blocks are longer east to west in Midtown, and I don't think it's a simple figure. I don't know about the other boroughs.
Yes, it's only in Manhattan, AFAIK. But the blocks that run east/west are avenues--i dont think most people think of those as "blocks"--at least, I never really did.....
Old 03-11-2002, 12:50 PM
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Block Length

Chicago uses what is known as the "Philadelphia grid system" (o I'm guessing they use it in Philly too. A mile is 8 blocks. Every 8 blocks there is a major street, every 4 blocks there is a minor major street. The zero point is in the loop at State and Madison. Its quite a nifty system and makes it quite easy to get from A to B unlike the suburbs with their crazy-twisty name changing streets with absolutely no rhyme or reason to the numbering system.

TC
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Old 03-11-2002, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Baron
Yes, it's only in Manhattan, AFAIK. But the blocks that run east/west are avenues--i dont think most people think of those as "blocks"--at least, I never really did.....
[Nitpick]In Manhattan, roads running east-west are "streets." Roads running north-south are "avenues." [/Nitpick]
Old 03-11-2002, 01:00 PM
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Washingtonian checking in. The size of a block is insignificant compared to the distance separating them. That distance must be less than the width of a bomb-carrying truck. Usually we plant pansies in 'em to make them a little more attractive.

What, the rest of you have a standard city block length? L'Enfant obviously didn't design your city.
Old 03-11-2002, 02:26 PM
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Baron is the first with the correct answer. I went to surveying school upon my exit from the US Navy. One of the first chapters in the book of surveying is determining the size of things using the standards set forth by the US Geological Society in 1812. It was intended as a guideline, not law, so many municipalities use different measurements for determining the size of blocks and naming and numbering streets.
Old 03-11-2002, 02:27 PM
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Re: Block Length

Quote:
Originally posted by tcline76
Chicago uses what is known as the "Philadelphia grid system" (o I'm guessing they use it in Philly too. A mile is 8 blocks. Every 8 blocks there is a major street, every 4 blocks there is a minor major street.
Phoenix is like this, too. But more than just the city - the suburbs - Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Glendale, all of 'em! - have the same grid layout. It would take stupidity of heroic proportions to get lost here.
Old 03-11-2002, 02:42 PM
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In Manhattan I call streets short blocks and avenues long blocks. Lots of people I know refer to them the same way. Baron correctly stated that a mile is the equivalent of 20 short blocks. "They" also say that four long blocks are one mile, but this has never seemed quite right to me.
Old 03-12-2002, 03:47 AM
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In Anchorage Alaska, a city block is 330 feet x 330 feet, measured from the center of the street to the center of the next street. So here, 16 blocks is a mile.

And each block encompasses exactly 2.5 acres.
Old 03-12-2002, 04:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by lurker b
In Manhattan I call streets short blocks and avenues long blocks. Lots of people I know refer to them the same way. Baron correctly stated that a mile is the equivalent of 20 short blocks. "They" also say that four long blocks are one mile, but this has never seemed quite right to me.
Wow, I'm glad someone else had heard of the 4 blocks = 1 mile thing. I was begining to feel pretty dumb.
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Old 03-12-2002, 04:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by racer72
Baron is the first with the correct answer. I went to surveying school upon my exit from the US Navy. One of the first chapters in the book of surveying is determining the size of things using the standards set forth by the US Geological Society in 1812. It was intended as a guideline, not law, so many municipalities use different measurements for determining the size of blocks and naming and numbering streets.
While there isn't a law the standard city block of 660 feet (which includes a 66 foot road allowance) was far more common than your post implies. This is largely due to the standard measurement of land at the time being the chain which was equal to 66 feet. It also divided evenly into existing parcels like sections which are a mile or 80 chains accross.

Quote:
And each block encompasses exactly 2.5 acres.
And if you ever wondered what demented soul decided that 43,560 square feet was a good measurement for land area now you know. I acre = 10 square chains.
Old 03-12-2002, 05:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by blur

Wow, I'm glad someone else had heard of the 4 blocks = 1 mile thing. I was begining to feel pretty dumb.
Manhatten is laid out with long blocks (20 chains by 4). It makes up for the double wide road allowances the avenues are alloted.
Old 03-12-2002, 09:44 AM
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In Kansas City, MO, the basic layout is 8 blocks to the mile. Thus from 63rd St. to 75th St. is one mile. However, some parts of town have additional streets halfway between, labeled "terrace." So it might go 63rd St., 63rd Ter., 64th St., 64th Ter., etc. Each of these blocks is then 1/16th of a mile.

Apparently the answer to the question hinges upon which city, and within that city, what is defined as a block.
Old 03-12-2002, 10:17 AM
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Gosh! Thanks everyone. I had no idea this could be so complex and varied.
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Old 03-12-2002, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by lurker b
In Manhattan I call streets short blocks and avenues long blocks. Lots of people I know refer to them the same way. Baron correctly stated that a mile is the equivalent of 20 short blocks. "They" also say that four long blocks are one mile, but this has never seemed quite right to me.
Part of the reason that doesn't "seem right" is that the "long blocks" vary in length.

Fourth (now Park), Fifth and Sixth Avenues were laid out in the 1790s. The remaining avenues were arranged in the 1811 Commissioners' Plan, a landmark in city planning, and were closer together. From the Commissioners' Report:
Quote:
The avenues to the eastward of number one are marked A, B, C, and D. The space between the First and Second avenues is six hundred and fifty feet; from the Second to the Third avenue is six hundred and ten feet. The spaces from the Third to the Fourth, from the Fourth to the Fifth (which is the Manhattanville avenue or Middle road), and from the Fifth to the Sixth avenue, are each nine hundred and twenty feet. The spaces west of number six are each of them eight hundred feet.
Lexington (between 3rd and Park) and Madison (between Park and 5th) Avenues joined the plan as afterthoughts, once real estate developers realized that the original layout left too many midbock lots and not enough corner lots. (I believe they opened the 1830s, shortly after President Madison's death.)

Rebecca Read Shanor's wonderfully informative The City That Never Was (1988) includes a story about a 1910 proposal by Mayor Gaynor to insert a similar avenue between 5th and 6th. By that time, of course, the condemnation costs would have been astronomical; the proposal died with Gaynor.

For more, see this summary from Cornell.
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