Just how far is "a block", anyway?

When I read books based in America, distances are often related in "blocks".

I have no mental image of "a block" - how far is it?  How long would it take to walk?

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Ninzerbean5 years ago
A block is a square. When you say that the house or whatever is 2 blocks away that would only be 2 sides of 2 squares. No one counts all 4 sides of a block in a distance type of direction. If a house was 8 blocks away it would still be just 8 sides of 8 blocks. Blocks can be long or short. It would take you about 3 minutes to walk one block. But to walk AROUND a block would take 4 times as long. A block may have anywhere from no houses to 10 houses on it or more. Depending on the block. Each city is different with different sized blocks and different sized lots for homes or business. The way it all makes sense to us though is that blocks are separated by streets. So when you get to a street to cross you know you have walked or driven one block.
Kiteman (author)  Ninzerbean5 years ago
So, "a five block walk" would be about quarter of an hour, or roughly a mile.

That's exactly what I needed, thanks.
I saw the title to this in my "subscription update" email and assumed you were talking about minecraft, where a block is 1 meter.

but um yeah... nevermind :)
rimar20005 years ago
Here in Argentina a block measures 129 meters, technically, but it is generally assumed as 100 meters. It happens that few cities are of regular layout, and a block can measure only a few meters or over 200.
Ninzerbean5 years ago
Another thing to know is that when you get to the next block, even if you did not cross a street to do so, the numbers on the houses change by a digit usually in the hundreds. So on one block you may find houses or business numbered 901, 902, 903, etc (even on one side and odd on the other), but when you get to say 1001 or anything in the 10's you know you are on the next block. Of course you can go down numbers too, 801, 810 etc. Each city in America has a different system which means that some cities have no system at all. They numbers on the homes USUALLY correspond to the block number, for example a house number of 1751 would be on the 17th block from the center of town.

But to say it would take you a certain amount of time to walk so many blocks is really a guess, really they can be all different, even in the same neighborhood.
Kiteman (author)  Ninzerbean5 years ago
So, would a number in double digits be on the first block?
You would think so, that's the way they are in Ft Lauderdale, but like I said, every city is different. We have two streets that make an axis that divide the city into 4 quadrants (NW, NE, SW, SE) and they are our '0' streets. But we go by the TWA rule - Terraces, Ways and Avenues go north and south. Everything else, such as a street, blvd, circle, court or a drive goes east and west. But our blocks are all different sizes. I think you just have to think of blocks as short distances that are easy to walk, no one would think anything of walking a few blocks to go to get something or to walk the dog.
kelseymh5 years ago
Hi, Kiteman. You probably want to read this. Ninzerbeam's answer is correct, but limited.

City blocks may be square or rectangular (sometimes with a really high aspect ratio) under "grid planning", and the "standard size" can range from as short as 100 yards (m) up to a 1/8 of a mile.

In downtown urban areas, where they number their streets, the spacing is often 1/10 of a mile, so you can estimate distances just from the street numbers.
Kiteman (author)  kelseymh5 years ago
OK, thanks.
CameronSS5 years ago
Eighth of a mile, most places.

Dunno about Britland where most cities have been around longer than straight lines, but here the city streets typically follow a grid pattern. A "block" is the length of one of those grid sections. At least in Topeka, and most other cities I'm familiar with, the east-west streets are the numbered ones, and every eight is a major street, with the middle (four streets in) is a street bigger than residential but usually not heavily traveled. Those in the middle are smaller roads. In Topeka, two of the biggest east-west streets are 21st and 29th, which are separated by a mile. 25th is larger than 24th, but not by much. 22nd, 23rd, 24th, etc. are spaced a "block" apart, an eighth of a mile.

More generally, it's the distance between two streets. If the store is six blocks thataway, expect to go through five street corners before you get to it, regardless of the actual spacing of the streets.

Wow, that was a long answer, and I'm sure someone's going to find something stupid I said in there...
Kiteman (author)  CameronSS5 years ago
That matches what Ninzerbean posted a few seconds before you did...
Curse you, Ninzerbean!
Ha ha