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Pick a number between one and …

Welcome to Florida. Where everything is big. And wide. And spaced out. And by spaced out, I mean there are gaps inbetween things, and not spaced out. And even when things aren’t spaced out it seems that the CFPRBT[1] have had their influence when it comes to house numbering.

Now I’m ALMOST at the point where I can see the sense in the US style incremental block numbering system. That’s the one where on a road (say) that is eight blocks long, the first house number will be 1001. The next will be 1003, then 1005, and say … up to 1017. And then there is the junction where the next block starts, and so the next house number is not 1019, but 2001 instead – because it’s the second block of the road, and so it increments to a ‘2’ right? This is great in that you know which block number you’re on, but stupid if someone tells you that they’re at 4178, because to a English person you might think that there are four thousand, one hundred and seventy seven houses before than, when it fact it’s a lot less.

Anyway -I digress. That’s LOGICAL compared to what I’m about to tell you next.

In England we’ve apparently got this crazy stupid illogical system of having incremental numbering with the odds on one side of the road and the evens on the other. You know .. 1, 3, 5, 7 and 2, 4, 6, 8. Crazy huh? I mean .. SURELY there has to be a much easier way of that crazy numbering system, right? And there is!

The CFPRBT[1]have come up with .. well .. what? I want to say ‘random numbering system’, but of course there’s obviously some logic to it which I don’t understand and I am blogging here because I’m hoping that someone call tell me how the hell this is supposed to work.

We went pre-wedding family visiting to the father-of-the brides house. He lives at number 4301 on his street. But I noticed that the house to his right was number 4293 and the next one up to his left was number 4333. What?

I’ll say that again …


The whole road was like it. In fact – all roads in the neighbourhood that we drove around were like it. There’s obviously some sense to it .. but none that I could work out. So if anyone could let me in on the secret, I’d much appreciate it – thx.

Oh, and all houses in Florida have a pool in the back. And when I say ‘all houses’, what I actually mean is .. well ALL HOUSES.

This one even backed onto a private inlet where you moored up your boat. And there was the rather cool moment of seeing a statue of a Blue Heron standing in the neighbours garden by their pool. I went over to take a picture of it, only to discover … that, no, it wasn’t a statue but an actual live Blue Heron, which rather majestically winged up, and took off, and flew out over the harbour. Nice – and it kinda made up for the confusion of the crazy numbering.

Florida (pronounced FLAAAW-EH-DAH!) is still weird though.

[1] Committe For Planning Really Big Things – A USA government organisation set up to make things unfeasible large as possible in design and construction – from houses to shops cars and people – when they realised that they had 3.7 million square miles to play with.

16 responses to “Pick a number between one and …”

  1. Anthony says:


    Maybe the houses are apparently randomly numbered because this was the order, on their block, in which they were built.

  2. Tugs says:

    If the numbers are consecutive, maybe the large gaps are due to the fact that each house actually covers several old plots. i.e. the house to right occupies plots 4293, 95, 97 and 99, with the central house occupying plots 4301, O3, 05,…., 29, 31.

    If the numbers are actually random, I have no suggestion as I’m an engineer and far too rational.

  3. miles away says:

    I like #2’s suggestion. And, at least they’re all odd numbers, which sort of makes sense.

  4. Tina (G's Mum') says:

    You could always ask Johnny Ball. (Think of a number!)

  5. Kelly says:

    It has to do with the spacing of the plots/mailboxes, I think. Not sure the specific rules (and they probably vary by locality anyway), but I grew up (in the USA) at #3, my next neighbor was #9, then next along was #13. Our driveway/mailbox was quite far from #9, and #9 and #13 were closer together.

  6. Geoff's Cousin says:

    It’s based on GPS co-ordinates. Remember the US military used GPS long before Sat Nav existed.

  7. jaq says:

    In Maine they have exit numbers on the highway that are the number of miles from where they started counting, which makes it easier if they add a new exit. So my guess is that those houses are measured in feet from the start of the street, or something like that.

    p.s. I am now an Englishman in the US as well! I’m in the ‘Irish’-pub-filled Boston, I guess it’s a bit different from Charleston.

  8. geofftech says:

    right… so no one’s been able to give me the ACTUAL answer here yet, although kelly gets closest with the spacing of the plots. i just don’t see how it’s helpful. if you’re trying to find house number 23 in england, then you know it’s going to be the 12th house down on the odd numbered side.

    here, if someone lives at 4581, then they’re.. well.. who knows? not necessarily the fourth block down even.

    probably explains why people drive tediously slow in front of me down sideroads a lot of the time.. they’re having to stop to check the house number at every building on the way down. MOST annoying.

  9. Erin says:

    Suggestion number one is a good one, in fact this is how houses in Japan are numbered.

  10. Senji says:

    Related but not an answer, on the long coast road on the south of Spain urbanisations etc are addressed including the number of kilometres along the road they are from the end.

    OTOH my M-in-L’s urbanisation is literally randomly numbered — and visitors who don’t have directions are well advised to ask the security guard…

  11. Kelly (USA expat in UK) says:

    I’m guessing if it is because of the spacing of the plots, it would be helpful in rural areas…eg, if a road is 3 miles long, with a group of 3 houses (2, 4, and 6, for example) at the start of the road, and 3 houses (eg 296, 298, and 300) at the end. If there were no houses in between, this may make more sense than the houses being numbered 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12–you know you still have quite a while to drive when you see number 6 to get to number 296. Also, if a house is built in the empty bit in the middle at a later date, this will be able to fit into the numbering system. You have to remember, a lot of the US is rural–and even in places that are not really rural anymore due to urban/suburban sprawl, these conventions may be left over from when they were more rural. The UK is a bit more town centre-based, with whole rows of houses being built all at once.

  12. There are worse places for numbering systems. Venice, for instance. They don’t bother with the road at all, and just give you a number, and a district.

  13. CV says:

    Well I thought the numbering was distance based. When I worked in Florida, the ‘office’ address was 14817 Oak Lane. The ‘lane’ in question, apart from being a very long way from the nearest oak tree, had only three buildings on it – it was an industrial estate access road. When I wondered where the other fourteen thousand eight hundred and sixteen buildings were (as Brits would), I was informed that it was something to do with the distance from downtown.

    Having said that, I’ve just put the address into multimap, and I notice that two nearby roads are called NW148th St and NW149th St. Hmm, so that’s where the 148 comes from. Perhaps it was number 17 on a road that was quite close to NW148th St?

    Tokyo is worse. Only major streets have names. Minor streets have no identification at all. Blocks have numbers, and so do buildings (within the blocks), but there’s no logic to it (perhaps the order they were built?). Outside each metro station is a big map showing the local area, with each block and building number shown, so that people can find out where the building they want actually is. Journeys by taxi in Tokyo can be quite amusingly aimless if all you have is an address!

  14. Mr Spoon says:

    I think its perfectly obvious!

    The numerical difference between 4333 and 4301 is 32 and we all know 32 is the atomic number of germanium, and the difference between 4301 and 4292 is 8, and the number 8 is involved with a number of interesting mathematical phenomena related to the notion of Bott periodicity!

    I think that prety much clears that up!

  15. dave says:

    Hey Geoff, not to throw any more confusion into this topic, and in spite of the fact that we american’s tend to make the easy “not so easy”.. the real explanation has to do with survey markers and distance from them when it comes down to the actual house number. As you have already figured out and as others have also stated, the number also is the location of the street, avenue, lane, road, etc. For example, my office location is 7777 131st Street. Interpretation: I’m on 131st Street, between 77 and 78th Avenues (in this town avenues run east-west and stretts run north south. The “77” portion of the number is 77′ from the land plot’s master survey marker as located from the adjoining land plot survey marker.

    Now with that being said, what one really needs to “completely” understand is a minimum of two years of survey school with classes in geometry, algebra, trig, and calculus, and as Mr. Spoon indicated – chemistry.

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