Big Zero

On October 11, 2012 · 5 Comments

I noticed something I hadn’t seen before as I gazed upon a map of the Canada – United States border. Well, maybe I’d noticed it before although it must not have registered at the time if that’s the case. What? You don’t stare at maps of the border? It’s one of my fixations. I’ve learned all sorts of interesting bits of trivia along that very stretch of terrain which all involve completely legal and legitimate things in case anyone from the law enforcement community actually monitors 12MC.

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I was tickled — not Canadian tickled mind you, rather the idiomatic definition — about a 27.3 kilometre (17 mile) segment between British Columbia and Washington due east of the Douglas/Blaine border crossing.

Check it out: 0 Avenue. That’s “0” as in Zero. You may need to drill down a little to see the label or open it in another tab. What an awesome way to begin a numerical sequence. Most places seem to start with 1. Not here though, they start with 0 on a road that hugs the international border. This is a 100% Canadian road with only a small ditch separating it from the United States. It does not provide access to the U.S. In fact for a portion of the length a parallel road runs on the U.S. side maybe two or three metres away. This is our sad reality in a post 9-11 world.

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Notice how the farmer on the U.S. side of the border in this Street View image has to walk-up to a mailbox on the very edge of the border ditch. He could be handcuffed if he dropped his mail and it slid down the embankment. Crazy.

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The United States seems to have more than its share of 0-themed streets, avenues, and such. I found a number of instances. I think my favorite might be 0 Street outside of Cumberland, Wisconsin. It runs straight down the border between Polk and Barron Counties, and therefore serves as an excellent place to start counting from zero. That’s not what makes it remarkable. No, what is remarkable is the numbering of other streets in Barron County map. What’s up with all the weird fractional street numbers? 24 3/4 Ave? 21 1/2 Ave? Seriously?

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I found an example in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala that deserves special recognition. Consider the person who lives in the house at the corner of 0 Avenida and 0 Calle. I can’t imagine that it would boost his self esteem to be reminded constantly that he’s a double-zero.

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Few references to Yemen have ever made it onto the Twelve Mile Circle. This is a rare exception. Portions of Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, follow a numerical street naming convention. Welcome to Zero Street. It looks to be fairly significant with two lanes of traffic in each direction. Sana’a, I will note since I don’t know when I’ll have an opportunity to feature Yemen again, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its age and to its unusual architecture. Nearly two million people live here, and yet I’ve chosen to feature only Zero Street for some odd reason. I’ll have to fix that someday.

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Finally, I found Zero Road in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. This is the only one of the examples I provided that does not appear to be part of a numerical sequence. One wonders how Zero Road got its name. Does it refer somehow to the adjacent Ajanta Talkies Theatre, Allahabad Degree College, Jamuna Christian College or Dwarka Hospital? Does it derive from an indigenous non-English language with Zero referring to something other than a number? I don’t know.

Completely Unrelated

Loyal 12MC reader "New Taste" thought I might be interested in the Australian Government’s National Public Toilet Map. Of course I am! One never knows when an App like this might be appropriate for certain time-sensitive situations. I wish the U.S. government would fund such a resource. Goodness knows taxpayer monies are used for much less useful items. It would also help identify geo-extremes such as the Lowest Public Restroom in North America, too.

Thanks New Taste!

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