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City grids rock

The coolest fact I learned about Chicago during my first visit there last week is that it is on a grid system that would make a mathematician proud. The city is basically one giant cartesian coordinate system where the origin (0,0) is at the downtown intersection of State and Madison. From there everything is either addressed as being n units North/South, East/West, where every 800 units = 1 mile (8 blocks every mile, 1 block = 100 units). For example, I stayed near 1600N 1600W, which is about 4 miles from downtown origin (3 miles if you can find a diagonal street). 

This system works great for navigating. If I'm trying to get from 1600N 1600W to 2400N 800W, I know that it's about 2 miles away -- very useful if you're debating paying for a cab, walking, or taking the El. There's also very little problems with getting lost: you know exactly which direction you need to head and you know when you've gone too far.

From Wikipedia's entry on Chicago

The city’s urban context is organized within a grid pattern. The pattern is modified by the shoreline, the three branches of the Chicago River, the system of active/inactive rail lines, several diagonal streets (including Clybourn Street, Milwaukee, Lincoln, Elston, Archer, and Ogden Avenues), the expressways, and hundreds of bridges and viaducts. In addition, the baselines for numbering streets and buildings are State Street (for east-west numbering) and Madison (for north-south numbering). Street numbers begin at "1" at the baselines and run numerically in directions indicated to the city limits, with N, S, E, and W indicating directions. Chicago is divided into one-mile sections which ideally contain eight blocks to the mile, with each block's addresses ideally occupying a 100-number range. Even-numbered addresses are on the north and west sides of streets; odd-numbered address are on the south and east sides.

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on August 25, 2006 5:24 PM.

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