How countless NYC blocks room there in a mile? It counts on which direction you’re going. (Thomas Richter/EyeEm/Getty Images)

On average, new Yorkers walk more miles per day — and also walk them faster—than anyone rather in the country. We can’t help it. We’ve got long highways (which in Manhattan run east-west) and also long avenues (which run north-south). Yet how many NYC blocks are in a mile?

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

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But what around the lengths that the blocks between avenues? not so reliable. Usually speaking, the street between methods is about 750 feet, which way about seven east-west blocks per mile. Yet there’s some severe variance.

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

The distance between very first and second avenues is 650 feet, while the between 2nd and 3rd Avenues is 610 feet. The blocks between third and Sixth methods ratchet up to 920 feet. And also finally, block length between Sixth and Twelfth opportunities is 800 feet.

How do we account for the variability? Look come the times. As soon as the Commissioners’ plan of 1811 (more ~ above this later) laid the end a proposal because that the now-famous gridiron the Manhattan, market looked rather a little bit different. Follow to the “Encyclopedia of new York City,” blocks along the Hudson and also East river waterfronts were constructed closer together in anticipation of increased breakthrough — more opportunities because that water-adjacent property. Avenues were designated long and vast to do room because that vehicles favor the omnibus, or horse-bus — one old-school, horse-drawn type of massive transit.

The size of Manhattan Blocks was Determined earlier in 1811

It every goes back to the Commissioners’ Plan.

Around 1800, the common Council of new York — “City Council” this days — surveyed reduced Manhattan and decided that its anarchic layout, organically forged through pet paths and the whims the wanderings, can use part regulation. They soon compelled that any new streets receive approval, and also levied fees from property owners to preserve their regional streets.

But together NYC grew, competing viewpoints ~ above furthering advancement logjammed any kind of progress, and the city turned to the state legislature for aid. What it got was a commission imbued through “exclusive strength to lay out streets, roads, and also public squares… most conducive to public good.”

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

How the NYC Street Grid pertained to Be

The rectangle-shaped grid may not be sexy, but it certain works. The arrangement — the Commissioners’ arrangement of 1811, the is — was simple:

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


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

Unlike the east-west numbered streets, which run 60 feet wide, particular crosstown highways were given increased width to serve as thoroughfares. Their numbers won’t be surprising: 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, 96th, 106th, 116th, 125th, 135th, 145th, and also 155th streets room each 100 feet wide. (Nowadays, 106th, 110th, and also 116th highways run 100 feet wide in part places and also 60 feet in others.)

To actually construct the grid, 1,549 marble mite were placed at every intersection. And also though the procedure faced vandalism through disgruntled property owners, continuous legal bickering, and environmental obstacles, the city got built. It took 60 years for the net to reach 155th Street, yet it ultimately did.

The Longest and Shortest NYC Blocks

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

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

Is the Manhattan Street Grid democratic or Ugly?

If there is a type of beautiful pragmatism come Manhattan’s grid, climate 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 her biography of man 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 action in such a way as to create inequality of special privilege.” The net is the every-person’s shape. The democratic.

The artists disagreed. Walt Whitman said Manhattan’s roads were “the last point in the world consistent through beauty that situation.” Edith Wharton dubbed it “hidebound in its fatal uniformity of average ugliness.” Henry James lamented that the plan didn’t capitalize on Manhattan’s herbal topography, saying it was “the uncollected labor of minds with no imagination of the future and blind before the opportunity offered them by their two magnificent waterfronts.”

Even philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre chimed in: “Amid the numerical anonymity that streets and also avenues, i am just anyone, anywhere, due to the fact that one location is so prefer another. Ns am never astray, but constantly lost.”

Today, that course, new Yorkers and visitors alike celebrate the grid because that being easy to navigate. And some big thinkers did see a worthy aim in its imposition the order. “ no to do the city right into a huge device and man right into an automaton,” composed French critic and also philosopher Roland Barthes, “but to master the distances and also orientations by the psychic … that each individual must be poetically the owner that the capital of the world.”—Hey, why not prefer bsci-ch.org on Facebook and follow