US - street numbers

Hey US-Postcrossers!

I’m wondering since quite a long time, why you guys are having such high street numbers like 9800 xx Rd? I would be curious to know, what’s the system behind that? Or is it just random?

Best regards, Andreas


Very good question. I too would like to know the answer.

1 Like

I don’t know for sure but I guess it’s because the roads are long.


Here in Austria most street numbers are below 200. There are some exceptions like long roads in the alps. There street numbers can go up to 1000. But I only saw this one time in my life.

I was once told that it is because they count the house numbers based on the distance from the decided “point zero” of the area, but I am not sure if that is true and now that the question is up again, I would also like to know :slight_smile: I guess we will have to patiently wait the US people to wake up and let us know!


My sister lives in house no 913, but the street goes through the entire city as a straight line. Really the only time I’ve seen it here in Germany.

According to wikipedia 3 different systems exist, one of them is what Kompis-Ninna just wrote:
Streets may be numbered based on distances: a property numbered 1447 may be approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometres) from the beginning point for the numbering system.


American streets do not usually change names the farther one is from a designated point zero in the city center. As a result, a road originating in the central business district (for example, “Maple Avenue”) will usually keep the same name, even though an address is more than 10 kilometers away. As a result, an address that is far from the city center will have a large house number such as 12542 Maple Avenue.


I’ve been testing my memory, because I remember asking this 20-30 years ago. I would still love an answer from someone in the US, but this is what I think I was told.

If the road starts at number 1, but after say, number 5 another road bisects it, the building after it isn’t number 6, but it jumps enormously to something like 106. Let’s say that it carries on to 111, then there’s another road junction, the building after the road isn’t 112, but 212. Though because the numbers in the USA are so enormous, I think they probably jump by more than 100 after each road junction.

1 Like

That is very true. One of the longest avenues near me (Bergenline Ave) ends at 90th Street in North ber Bergen. As you go South, the numbers on houses and businesses are designated by the streets that intersect Bergenline. So…

►Between 85th St. and 84th St., the numbers might be 8525, 8521, 8504, 8411, etc.

President Eisenhower’s administration initiated an interstate highway system throughout the country. The Interstate highways running North/South are odd-numbered (e.g. Interstate 95). The Interstates running East/West are even-numbered (e.g. Route 80).

I live on a dead end street in a rural area of Maryland. there is another portion of this street on the other side of an environmental recreation area; the two pieces of this street with the same name do not connect through that area, and it doesn’t not appear as if they ever did. On my end there are 16 separate land parcels each with their own address. On the other end, there are only two private land parcels. Those are numbered in the 3500s. On my end, we are all in the 4500s, odds on the north of the street, evens on the south side. If there is any rhyme or reason to this, I can’t figure it out.


This is true, and the ring roads that go around cities are three digits. I95 is the major northsouth interstate on the east coast; 495 is the ring road (or beltway) around Washington, D.C, and 695 is the ring road around Baltimore. These are often referred to as inner and outer loops (direction of travel). But no one lives on an interstate, and there are no addresses on them as far as I know.

Many cities also have an addressing sham based on cardinal points. In Baltimore, Maryland, the major north/south artery is Charles Street. All of the cross streets retain their names, but chase from east to west when they cross Charles. As an example, Lexington St is East Lexington east of Charles St. and West Lexington west of Charles St. Charles also changes its designation as it crosses Baltimore St., North Chales north of Baltimore St. and South Charles south of Baltimore St.

Many cities have some sort of conventions like this; In New York, Avenues run north/south, streets run east/west. There is not, however, necessarily consistency between cities in these schemas, and individual addressing is also another adventure.


Part of this is for emergency services…I grew up at Rural Route 1, PO Box 41 outside a small Iowa town. We would tell visitors to turn left at the large blue corn silos but there would be no way for police or fire to find us. Eventually our dirt road received a number and so did our house. A friend who still lives there now has an address of 58236 280th Street. This makes me laugh as he is miles away from any town!
In North Dakota Native American reservations are like this and the state would not allow Natives to vote since they did not have a verifiable address (likely this was really just to deny them the right to vote) so Google Maps created addresses for everyone to solve the issue.


Yes…often they start with a certain street as the reference line so you might be at 400 East Tulip Drive or going the opposite way would be 400 West Tulip Drive meaning you are 4 blocks away from the street used as the anchor. Plus even numbers are on one side and odd numbers on the other side (so Tulip Drive might be 400, 402, 404 on the north side while 401, 403 etc are on the south side)


your physical street address is assigned by where your house is from where the main city has the starting point of city or town. then you have west, east, north or south (and in some places sw, se, ne or nw). you can see number of address as 19500 or higher. this is true with bigger cities as los angeles and neighboring cities continue the number system of that street or area.
here in new mexico, the rural area has route numbers for houses - but with the emergency system (meant for the police, fire to find our house), numbers have been assign to all dwellings.

I honestly hadn’t thought about it before reading this topic. I always lived at 5-digit addresses until I moved downtown to a 3-digit address (whoa!), and I can’t recall seeing a single-digit house number. :sweat_smile:

A few others have mentioned that house/business numbers tend to “jump” seemingly without reason, even along a street without an intersecting road. I’m sure there’s a reason; I’m just not smart enough to know it.

What make me laugh are the very rare fractional addresses: 300 1/2, etc. They tend to cause problems for the residents, because decimals and special characters (like /) aren’t allowed in online forms. In that case, you’d better be really good friends with your neighbors at either 300 or 301, because you’ll likely have a lot of misdelivered mail. :grimacing:

1 Like

The city I live in has the mentioned grid system. It is divided in four quadrants (NW, NE, SW, SE) with a Center Street running west to east and Broadway Avenue running north to south.
All streets run west to east, all avenues north to south. (There are also other street names like Lane, Parkway etc.)

Said grid system is based on blocks. 10 blocks are a mile long. You may have heard that in movies or read in novels … “The subway is three blocks that way”. NYC/Manhattan is famous for it.

As for the street address, numbers jump with blocks. So you are standing in front of house 1224 20th street. That means your street is 20 blocks (or 2 miles) away from the center of the grid/city, and the house is 12 blocks away. Theoretically, 20th street would run continuously parallel to the Center Street, but in practice, there might be a river etc, so it would stop and then be picked up later.

It could be that your direct neighbor’s address is 1302 20th street because the grid says so. Your neighbor to the other side has house number 1220. (In my city, odd house numbers on one side, evens on the other. But the house numbers are not necessarily consecutive.)

Same concept for house and street numbers - the higher the number, the further away from the city center/more rural. I think our city has mainly three or four digit house numbers (two digits would be adjacent to Center Street or Broadway) and one or two digit street numbers. Higher numbers are possible outside city limits.


I lived at 33 13 1/2 Street for a while … Especially handwritten postcrossing cards mumbled house number 33 and street together often, so the mail people corrected when necessary with bold slashes.


As far as I know it’s decided by each city or county when the neighborhood or street is laid out.

Yep rural address are fun! In PA they gave “emergency numbers” to each address so that way dispatch could pull them up. In Ohio they’re required (depending on area) to have their rural address marked clearly on their mail boxes (vs only on the house which could be 1/8 mile away from the road).