Highest Numbered Street

Newer cities created on grid patterns often used street naming systems based on numbers. The closest street to an important urban feature would become 1st Street. Numbers increased from there. Distinct patterns emerged in different cities, of course. Maybe numbered streets increased outward in two directions, north and south or east and west. Plenty of other variations existed too.

I wondered about the highest numbered street, though. Apparently a lot of other people on the Intertubes wanted to know the same thing according to what I found as I searched. Specifically though, I sought something within a single city in a generally contiguous manner. There shouldn’t be huge gaps. Otherwise I’d look at something like 1010th Street way outside of Eau Claire, Wisconsin and be done with it.

New York City

Queens County Farm Museum
Queens County Farm Museum. Photo by Nick Normal on Flickr (cc)

New York City seemed like a logical starting point. The city sprawled densely across five boroughs and used a numerical grid for much of it. The highest numbered street seemed to land in the Glen Oaks neighborhood of Queens. There, way out on the distant edge of the city near its border with Nassau County, appeared 271st Street. This quiet middle class neighborhood consisted primarily of a large garden apartment complex. On 271st St. however, just three blocks long, the houses all appeared to be detached single-family homes (map).

This neighborhood sat so far away from the action that it contained an actual farm. A farm in New York City? Well, actually, that might be a slight exaggeration. A few blocks away from 271st Street stood the Queens County Farm Museum. I guess that counted as a farm in a sense. As the museum explained,

Queens County Farm Museum’s history dates back to 1697; it occupies New York City’s largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland. The farm encompasses a 47-acre parcel that is the longest continuously farmed site in New York State.

Where in New York City could someone go on a hay ride? Only way out near 271st Street, I’d imagine.

Washington, DC

I figured I could also look closer to home in the District of Columbia. With Washington being so much smaller than New York, I certainly wouldn’t expect it to reach the same number. However, it did have a nice grid divided into quadrants. Looking near the right angles of its rectangular border should help find the largest street numbers. They ran north-south in the nation’s capital. The western cornerstone fell in what is now Virginia so that wouldn’t work. That left the streets near the eastern cornerstone as the best place to search.

There I found 63rd Street Northeast as probably the highest number street (map) in the District of Columbia. These four blocks featured mostly modest brick duplexes with a few small apartments. The boundary stone could be found about a block farther to the east near the intersections of Southern and Eastern Avenues. Some maps called this the East Corner neighborhood appropriately enough, although I couldn’t find any more information about it. The cornerstone near 63rd Street, it should be noted, went through a rededication recently after many years of neglect.

The highest numbered street in the Virginia area previously part of the District of Columbia appeared to be 44th Street in Arlington (map).

Tehran, Iran

Tehran , Iran
Tehran, Iran. Photo by daniyal62 on Flickr (cc)

The city of Tehran in Iran had something of a grid in spots, including some with numbered streets. The city even had a 305th Street (map). This short block included space for two apartment towers, a park and a farmers’ market. However, I couldn’t make sense of the numbering scheme and it seemed like several different patterns existed in close proximity. I included Tehran solely because I wanted an Iranian push-pin on my Complete Index map. Now I have one.

Milton Keynes, England

Milton Keynes, England (June 2009)
Milton Keynes, England. Photo by Mark Pegrum on Flickr (cc)

Few examples of numbered streets existed within the United Kingdom. Most towns formed centuries ago in a haphazard manner. They didn’t include regular grids like their cousins that formed from scratch on the North American prairies. Milton Keynes incorporated one of the the best examples of numbered streets that I could find, though. The city didn’t follow the same model as much of the rest of the UK. It didn’t have an ancient pedigree. "When the UK Government decided to build Milton Keynes in the 1960s, the area was mostly farmland and undeveloped villages." Thus, it followed a model much more aligned to what happened on the other side of the Atlantic.

Even so, its numbering climbed only as high as 14 as far as I could tell (map). Also, city planners didn’t like numbers as numerals so they spelled them out. People lived on Fourteenth Street not 14th Street.

19 Replies to “Highest Numbered Street”

  1. Is there a reason you skipped SAlt Lake City (and other Utah cities)? Highest numbered streets I’ve ever seen…

  2. I guess it depends on what you mean by “gaps”, but check out Seattle/King County. With just a bit of looking I found 480th Avenue Southeast in the eastern part of the county, and similarly-numbered streets not far away.

  3. Willoughby, OH, has streets numbered as high as 365th (and possibly higher; I’m not certain). This is part of a basically continuous pattern of north-south streets originating in Cleveland one county over!

  4. Hamilton County, Indiana (immediately north of Indianapolis) continues the street numbering system that begins in downtown Indianapolis. The southern border of the county is 96th street, and the northern border of the county is 296th Street.

  5. Don’t know about “highest numbers”, but on the general topic of street numbering I point out Grand Junction, Colorado. It’s the only city I’ve seen that uses fractions in its street names.

    Look at this corner of the city… https://www.google.com/maps/place/39°05'45.2“N+108°33’39.8″W

    You’ll see “26 1/4 Rd”, and a little to the southeast: “26 3/4 Rd”. And it’s not just the numbered streets, because a little to the north you’ll find “F 1/2 Rd.” Never seen anything like it, anywhere else.

    1. The road numbers in Grand Junction are for how many miles it is to the Utah Border. So 26 1/4 Road runs north south and is 26 1/4 miles away from Utah.

  6. I always thought that the intersection of First Avenue and 1st Street in Manhattan was rather cool, and in fact it’s the site of a popular bar called One and One.

  7. The north-south “avenues” in Maricopa County (Arizona) emanate from Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix and count off heading west, 8 divisions to the mile. The counting continues well past Phoenix city limits and past the last of the remote suburban towns. Some scant desert roads about 70 miles west of Phoenix get as high as the 570s. There is a 579th Avenue I know about.

    To add to the fun, the north-south roads emanating east are called “streets”. Thus, read your addresses correctly. People have been known to arrive to 70th Street, thinking it’s 70th Avenue, and find they’re about 18 miles lost.

    I found streets in the 590s in Parkers Prairie, Minnesota, but don’t know the numbering scheme they use there.

    Lastly, the same “8 streets to a mile” is used in many other counties, and the Thomas Guide street maps for San Bernardino County (CA) would overlay the grid on each page, with numbers potentially as high as the 700s and 800s getting to the easternmost locales such as Big River. However, none of the actual roads out this way use the street numbering scheme. I can’t find any examples.

  8. We’ve got a 244th St Southwest in Lynnwood, just north of Seattle, WA. Curiously, it’s simultaneously 205th St Northwest – it runs along the Snohomish/King County line, and both counties have their own separate street grids.

    For higher numbers, though, you should look at the northern edge of Snohomish County, where 332nd St NW runs along the Snohomish/Skagit County line. And yes, the street numbering is continuous.

    (There’s also 477th Ave SE in Ragnar, King County, off I-90 as it goes up into the mountains. I’m not sure you can properly call it continuous there, though.

  9. Near the place where I live in far eastern Moscow (at 55.8 N 37.8 E, give or take a bit), there’s a set of numbered Parkovaya (i.e. “park”) streets. The numbers go as far as 16, and to the best of my knowledge this is the longest continuous set of numbered streets in Moscow (though some of the larger even numbers are really short streets).

    Omsk is infamously known for its multitude of large street numbers. Having never been there, I don’t know how true it really is.

    The numbered street grid on Vasilyevsky Island, Saint-Petersburg, has two numbers per street – each side of each street has its own number. Supposedly this goes back to the 18th century.

  10. I found something interesting regarding numbered streets on a recent vacation to Nashville. If you go to the downtown area near the Cumberland River, you’ll see a series of numbered avenues (ultimately reaching into the 60s). Okay, that made sense: that was probably the oldest part of the city, and so (as is almost certainly the case in countless other cities) they numbered the streets because they weren’t certain what else to call them.

    But then I saw an old map of Nashville, made by the Union army during the Civil War. Those numbered avenues weren’t numbered; they all had names (1st Avenue was Water Street, 2nd Avenue was Market Street, 3rd Avenue was College Street, and so forth). I couldn’t find when the switch happened, but given that Nashville was founded in 1779, odds are good that the city was over a century old when it happened. I’ve seen plenty of cities that had a numbering system that slowly went away (9th and 15th Streets are all that remains of the numbered streets in Durham NC, for example), but this is the only case I know of where a city switched to such a system. I’ve no idea why they did that.

    1. Many parts of Queens, NY dropped street names and went over to a numbering system in the 1930’s. Mosaics with the former names are still found in some subway stations.

    2. Austin, TX did something similar. When the city was founded, North-South streets were named for rivers in Texas (starting with Rio Grande at the west side of downtown, then river in order going northeast to Colorado (on which Austin lies) just west of center, then Congress (the exception) where the state Capitol is location, fitting correctly into the grid, then more rivers in order to Sabine (border with Louisiana). This still exists, but I think it’s fun to point out. Originally, the East-West streets were named for trees (Chestnut, Pecan, etc). These have since been renamed to numbers, starting with 1st at the river and increasing northward. Some of those numbers have since been changed again, including 1st to Cesar Chavez and 19th to MLK. My theory is that it makes navigation easier to have numbered streets than to have all names (like San Francisco north of Market), including house numbers increasing 100 for each block, so that 1562 lies between 15th and 16th streets.

  11. Edmonton Alberta has a 181st Avenue and 259th Street, It also has a house-numbering system based on this grid.

  12. Slightly different, and maybe you’ve already covered it, but the highest numbered and signed state highway in Virginia is apparently 10650 in Fairfax County, though with the proliferation of new roads in that county and the requirement that all receive a state highway number, it could well be higher by now.

    This blog lists the highest numbered road for other states also.


  13. It isn’t the highest or the oddest, but this reminds me of a couple of random streets in the St. Louis area. St. Louis doesn’t have a ton of numbered streets with it ending in places generally between 20th-25th streets. However, several miles west are two random numbered streets. The additional curveball is even they are not named the same, as one is 81st Street and the other is 82nd Boulevard. No idea how they came to be in the midst of no other numbered streets, but they are there.


Comments are closed.