21 April 2010

Where the streets have no name

Many cities in the Mountain West area were designed very methodically, and many places were designed on a grid system. Salt Lake City, for example, centers around the Salt Lake Temple. Everything in the Salt Lake Valley is measured from the Salt Lake Temple. Consequently, most streets do not have traditional street names like "Live Oak," "Hidden Valley," or "Glendale." Most street names are numbers. And it's a great way to know where you are. I love it. It is 70% of the reason I am not perpetually lost in this state. (The rest of the break-out is 20% the mountains and 10% the fact that I actually drive here.) For instance, if my work's address were 775 North 200 East, (it is not) that would mean my street name is "200 East." The physical address of the building is "775 North." (To add further meaning to this, this address would be located two blocks east of the Salt Lake Temple, and roughly 7.75 blocks north of the temple. Very simple and brilliant.)

I got a call at work on Monday that went like this:
Client: Hi, I am shipping something to you, but I am shipping it via UPS, and I need a physical address isntead of a P.O. box.
Me: Oh, okay, that's no problem at all. Are you ready for it? (pause) It's 775 North 200 East Ste. #95
Client: Wait, I'm confused.
Me: Okay, it's 775 North 200 East
Client: What's the street name?
Me: The physical address is 775 North. The street name is called 200 East.
Client: Are they going to know how to find this place?
Me: Yes, it's how most addresses in Utah are. I know it's a bit tricky if you're not used to it. It's on a grid system.
Client: So, the top line is 775 North. Then the second line is 200 East, then Ste 95.
Me: Sure.
Technically, no. It should be like this:
775 North 200 East Ste. 95
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
But, I'm sure it will get there.

The guy was seriously confused, and I really didn't know what else I could possibly tell the guy so he wouldn't be confused. All he had to do was write down exactly what I was telling him. It made me glad that I don't deal with people all that often.


Steven said...

From my understanding, Boston has the worse street layout. All of the northeast is a spider web from what I know.

Angela Noelle of Striking Keys said...

So ah...your header image is taken in NZ...right?

You miss us, right?

You never get lost heeeeeeeeeeere. ;)

John said...

Don't even get me started on the complexities of postal/parcel deliveries here in Jackson, WY

Bart said...

The grid system is ideal. I love it. The Boston system is not ideal. Especially with the incredible lack of street signs, let alone good street signs.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

I didn't realize just how great Utah was until I lived in Sydney, and you had to have a 400 page key map to get anywhere.

And in Houston, it is always landmarks people use to give directions (aka: turn left at the alligator refugee).

Science Teacher Mommy said...

PS Your piece title made me laugh. There was an urban legend in the early 90's that Bono wrote that song in response to BYU not allowing U2 to play at their stadium (some rigmarole about t being the only venue big enough back in the day). There another false doctrine that he was once engaged to an LDS woman because of the line "Love is a temple . . . love the higher law . . ."

AmiZOOKey said...

What about Japan?! They REALLY have no street names. REALLY. There address exists of a number for your house, your block and your street and the name of your suburb. Also house numbers are in the order houses were built not necessarily in numerical order along the street.

We called all posties "Steve" in my mission. I am in awe of "Steve". Still.

(although I got pur-eeety awesome at map reading. But I've since forgotten all of it. Darn)

Packrat said...

The shipping programs that Fed Ex and UPS use are really bad for not letting one put in exact addresses. (Try shipping something to England where the place is just a name of a cottage!) In our business we get that all the time where the real address is one thing, but the computer program will only accept it another way. UPS even has our business address messed up.

Just have suppliers/clients write on the package "Known by Driver" or "Known by Delivery Person"

Anonymous said...

I think the easiest way to explain an address like 775 North 200 East is:
the street name is North 200 East, and the number is 775.

This has the benefit of fitting nicely into address fields on computer programs, and also meshing well with address conventions in other cities.

Many cities have street names like "East Colorado Blvd." or "North Figueroa St." It just so happens your street is called 200 East, and you are on the North segment of it, so the official name of it is North 200 East, just like the official name of the north segment of Figueroa street is "North Figueroa street." This makes even more sense if you think of 200 East as "2nd East" instead, since many cities have 1st St, 2nd St, 3rd St, etc.