October 11, 2008

Chicago's Street System Explained

You know how when you get off of the CTA you see the signs that would say for example, "Addison 3600N 940W"? If you're not a local (or maybe you are and just never bothered to decipher it), this can be ridiculously confusing. Sure you're on Addison Street, but what the fuck are all these numbers? I mean, what do you care?

So I've figured it out.

Chicago's gridded street system was originally laid out by the Chicago Board of Alderman in 1908. All addresses in the city are numbered from the center point intersection of State Street (which runs North and South) and Madison Avenue (which runs east and west) in The Loop area. For every 1 mile outward in any direction there are 8 city blocks. Henceforth, every 800 in numbers is a mile according the the "hundreds" block system. That's why you might hear directions that sound like, "about two thousand north on Western" or "twenty-four hundred west on Augusta" which both describe locations near the intersection of Western Avenue (2400 W) and Augusta Boulevard (1000 N).

That's pretty much the main idea with the grid system. Obviously it's near impossible to memorize the order of the streets by name, so here are some references that you may want to look into. Look around 24-hour diners or call 1 (800) 326-5399 for Turner's Expanded Chicagoland Street Guide, a staple piece of bound matter for anyone looking to get around with ease in the city. You can also take a look at the Chicago Neighborhoods and City Street Guide to get a better bearing on the "hundreds" grid system.

If all else fails and you can't figure it out, go to the nearest CTA employee manned next to the turnstiles at a train entrance and bug them about it, they're supposedly schooled to the teeth about the area. Good luck finding your way to the club and enjoy your Saturday night!