You probably heard J Lo singing about still being that girl from the block. But what exactly is a city block? And how big is the archetypical city block in the US?
To answer the question of how many city blocks in a mile is, we should know first the definition of a city block.
A city block is a rectangular area in a city with several buildings with the streets around. It is also called “block” which, in dictionary, is defined as an informal unit of distance from one intersection to the next.
Now, why is it important to establish just how long a city block should be? Well, its size is significant for urbanists and developers who study a town or city since it is the major factor of urban planning and urban design.
The concept of the “city block”- From its origins to modern times
Its origin can be traced to ancient civilization, specifically ancient Mesopotamia wherein the critical distinction of public and private property became very useful in urban designing. Public and private are the two major classifications of property in the cities, and this exists to this day. It is public roads that literally pave the way to private properties though, and it allowed our ancestors to separate what’s theirs. This system’s main purpose is to provide rights, parameter, economy and functional necessity.
Highway and pedestrian streets are two examples of public streets while private property includes houses with or without gate or street wall. Now, while the two are entirely different types of properties, they share common boundary lines which were set by the law as legal structure.
Thus, a block must depend on the lawful structure of urbanism and it can be legally defined as private property with public rights-of-way around it. Its size is measured from right-of-way to right-of-way.
How big is a City Block?
City blocks differ in sizes. They do not have a standard measurement. Every geographical area has its own average city block size
Here’s a ballpark figure: a city block is equal to a couple of acres. A normal square city block ranges from 2.21 to 2.50 acres. For engineers, one hundred thousand square feet is the recommended size for calculation estimates of city block. So, it can be said that a city block is twice as big as a football field. The latter measured as three hundred feet by one hundred sixty feet, which is equivalent to 1.1 Acres.
The International System of units used in converting city block to mile in the United States of America is the meter. So how can we know how many city blocks in a mile are there?
In the Midwest, a mile typically consists of sixteen city blocks. One meter is equal to 0.0099419390758 city block or 0.000621371192237 mile.
Meanwhile, there are, on average, twenty city blocks for every mile in Eastern U.S cities, wherein one meter is 0.0124274238447 city block, or 0.000621371192237 mile.
City blocks are larger in South, West U.S since they only need ten city block for one mile. The conversion is .00621371192237 city block or 0.000621371192237 mile for every meter.
The average city block in New York, however is 0.142045 mile or 750 feet. You usually have to traverse 7 blocks to reach a mile. In Philadelphia, the size of a city block ranges from 400 – 500 feet long, which is around 0.09 mile per block. An average block in Portland, Oregon on the other hand is smaller in size compared to other city. It is only about 200 feet long or 0.0378788 mile per block.
In Philadelphia, there are 400 to 425 feet per side in an old Philadelphia city block. That is equivalent to 13 blocks in a mile or 3.6 to 4 acres per entire city block. Philadelphia was the first city in the United Stated designed as a grid. Yet, it did not create a standard size for a block city. The grid design was originally composed of 8 properties per block per side, and an 80-acre “gentleman’s estates” should be place around. But, a pedestrian urban character was built for Philadelphia because of the fast development of the city.
From east to west, there are sixteen blocks in a mile for some regions of Denver. Meanwhile, there are eight blocks per mile from north to south. During the years of the ancient Roman grid structures, there have been super blocks around sports coliseums. These larger-than-normal blocks do not fit the grid system but make room for special uses of land and are still in use in 2014 to make room for universities and convention centers.
In East-west U.S., there are 10 street blocks for every mile. Yet, regions in Greenwich and all of lower Manhattan have different city block size. In Manhattan, the distance from one street to another measured around 264 feet or 0.05 mile. Avenues length measured at 900 feet or 0.170455 mile.
According to land4ever.com, a city block is equivalent to 15 to 20 city blocks per mile. Based on Chicago’s Transit Authority, there are 8 blocks in a mile in the city.
But if you’re going to ask urban planners, the recommend size of a pedestrian friendly block should be 300 to 600 feet long or more than 0.0568182 miles. Thus, if you use the mean of 450 feet from the suggest city block range, there would be 11.73 blocks in every mile.
Obviously, there is no specific answer in the question: how many city blocks are there in a mile? Some blocks are longer than the others while some are square and some are rectangular in shape, thus, the best way to answer it is to go to your community or the appropriate office in your city. Look for the city planning board or ask someone who works with the zoning issues in your area. If you know the standard size of a block in your city, you can easily answer the number of city blocks in every mile.