Chicago has an efficient and easy-to-navigate street grid. This allows our buses to have very predictable routes — you can hop on almost any bus in the city without being familiar with the route and still know where you’re going. The grid’s coordinate system also makes the city very easy to navigate on foot. The zero coordinate is at Madison and State in the Loop. Street numbers increase by 100 each block extending from that intersection, and each block is approximately 1/8 mile. For example, 800 N Halsted is one mile north of Madison. And Halsted is also at 800 W, so it’s one mile west of State.
If you’re familiar with the coordinate system, you can know where you are by looking at street numbers even if you’re in an unfamiliar neighborhood where you don’t know the street names. The street numbers will also tell you which direction you’re walking. On the South Side, you’re walking south if the numbers are getting higher. On the North Side, you’re walking north if the number are getting higher. If you check the street numbers, you can prevent yourself from walking too far out of the way.
“Know Your Navigation” by Lee Crandell is licensed under CC BY