How plenty of NYC blocks room 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 walk them faster—than anyone else in the country. Us can’t aid it. We’ve obtained long highways (which in Manhattan run east-west) and long methods (which run north-south). However how countless NYC blocks space in a mile?

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

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

If we’re talking around the area stretching from Houston Street come 155th Street, i m sorry is the main area that Manhattan’s street grid, climate these room your numbers:

The street between an initial and second avenues is 650 feet, while that between second and 3rd Avenues is 610 feet. The blocks between third and Sixth methods ratchet approximately 920 feet. And also finally, block length in between Sixth and Twelfth avenues is 800 feet.

How execute we account because that the variability? Look to the times. Once the Commissioners’ arrangement of 1811 (more ~ above this later) laid the end a proposal because that the now-famous gridiron that Manhattan, sector looked quite a bit different. According to the “Encyclopedia of brand-new York City,” blocks along the Hudson and East river waterfronts were built closer together in anticipation that increased advance — much more opportunities because that water-adjacent property. Avenues were designated long and broad to do room because that vehicles favor the omnibus, or horse-bus — one old-school, horse-drawn form of mass transit.

The size 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” these days — surveyed lower Manhattan and also decided the its anarchic layout, organically forged through animal paths and also the whims the wanderings, can use part regulation. They soon compelled that any new streets obtain approval, and also levied fees from property owners to maintain their regional streets.

But together NYC grew, contending viewpoints ~ above furthering advance logjammed any progress, and the city turned to the state legislature because that aid. What it obtained was a commission imbued through “exclusive strength to lay out streets, roads, and also public squares… most conducive to public good.”

Years of surveying commenced. What the commission landed on was so tried-and-true the the ancient Egyptians had actually relied on it: the gridiron.

How the NYC Street Grid pertained to Be

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

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


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

Unlike the east-west numbered streets, which operation 60 feet wide, details crosstown streets 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 highways run 100 feet wide in part places and 60 feet in others.)

To actually build the grid, 1,549 marble mite were placed at each intersection. And though the procedure faced vandalism by disgruntled property owners, constant legal bickering, and environmental obstacles, the city obtained built. It take it 60 years for the net to with 155th Street, however it lastly 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 length runs approximately 920 feet.

And the shortest? it’s 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. About as quick is Mill Lane in between South william Street and rock Street, east of Bowling Green, which is so brief it boasts no addresses.

Is the Manhattan Street Grid democratic or Ugly?

If there is a sort of beautiful pragmatism to Manhattan’s grid, then that’s the only beautiful thing around it. At least that originally 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 network was developed to show the idea that the “government ought no to act in together a means as to create inequality of distinct privilege.” The grid is the every-person’s shape. The democratic.

The artists disagreed. Walt Whitman claimed Manhattan’s roads were “the last thing in the world consistent v beauty that situation.” Edith Wharton called it “hidebound in its deadly uniformity of mean ugliness.” Henry James lamented that the arrangement didn’t capitalize top top Manhattan’s natural topography, saying it to be “the uncollected job of minds through no imagination of the future and also blind prior to the opportunity given them by their two magnificent waterfronts.”

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

Today, of course, new Yorkers and also visitors alike celebrate the grid for being simple to navigate. And also some large thinkers did watch a worthy aim in the imposition that order. “ not to make the city right into a huge an equipment and man right into an automaton,” wrote French critic and also philosopher Roland Barthes, “but to master the distances and also orientations through the mental … the each individual should be poetically the owner the the capital of the world.”—Hey, why not like derekwadsworth.com on Facebook and follow