On one side of a street, the house would be 1 N Graham St, on the other side of the street, it would be 1 NE Graham St.
Needless to say, some confusion occurs. In addition, many times locations are referred to as being on 39th and Graham, for example. So you must specify very carefully that you live at Number 39 Northeast Graham St, "Not 39th and Graham, at the corner of Graham and Williams, on the Northeast side"
It's a bit of a hassle. But a nice neighborhood. My mirror-neighbors kindly forward me packages, and I return the favor. Saves everyone a lot of agony.
(This is leaving aside the area in Portland where, being east of the 'dividing line', but west of the river, the houses are numbered identically except with a leading zero. Many mapping systems truncate this leading zero. Ergo you end up ~15 blocks away)
From 63 NE Graham to 63 N Graham -
0.1 miles - https://goo.gl/maps/xPLNKLzWv652
From 10 SW Boundary St to 010 SW Boundary St - 98 feet - https://goo.gl/maps/FRCXuYKir3M2
I worked for the telco that runs Northern Canada - all the way up to and inside the Arctic Circle. Most communities there don't have the concept of street names or house numbers at all. Our provisioning database had addresses like "brown house down from church" and "three houses from general store". Many were just "house1","house12","house334455" etc.
As horrible as it was, our data was the best in existence, to the point Canada Post was asking to use it :)
For friends and family, since I am technically savvy, I was able to figure out a google maps lat/lng that navigates to my house.
For locals or, for instance, utility workers that I can't send a lat/lng to, I have to give directions like this. "Go past the school, take the road to the right. Turn left at the cemetary. When you're on the dirt road, take the high road at every fork. After 4 miles you will come to three mailboxes all together, and my driveway is the 2nd one after that."
My street address also has the word "box" in it, despite being a physical address, so lots of places like Paypal don't want to accept it s a real address. It's caused me some grief and actually cost me some money, too.
Oh how I hate those directions. "Ok, there's a house with a yellow-ish door, but it's kind of a dull yellow. Is that the one? Should I turn here or keep going?"
I did see the same process happen in rural Wisconsin in the late 90s. I had an address by then, but I had a friend who lived out of town and had no address initially, but they went through and assigned one to everyone. I think the stated reason was to help emergency services, but of course it helped a lot of other stuff too.
I'm not sure how she voted (it's compulsory in AUS) but apart that (possible) problem it seemed to cause no inconvenience.
For one place I don't even know the road name, because nobody used it officially. It was just "the Snake Track", and everyone on that road had their mail addressed to the post office, which was really a general store with a few PO boxes, and we trusted each other not to take mail with someone else's name on it.
There are plenty of my photos here http://theroadchoseme.com/category/canada
And why would Canada Post need your data? Was it just a typical slow moving state enterprise or did you guys just do a better job? They likely had many decades more experience than your company...
Updating it was certainly possible, though I don't think much effort was being made. In those communities we probably had less than 50 unique addresses, in some other places we have tens of thousands.
Canada Post had no info on these communities, and they decided ours was better than nothing. Remember, we are talking extremely, extremely remote villages in the Arctic Circle, many of which are fly in only (no roads).
How was this ever a good idea to anyone?
Luckily, I didn't have to be the person solving that problem.
Additionally, one street over the other way is A Fields which leads into A Hill. Across the main road is A Terrace.
Parenthetically, there are actually either 5, 7 or 8 "quadrants" in Portland depending on who you ask and when. The traditional 5 are NW, N, NE, SE, SW. However, Burnside street is simply labeled E/W since it's on the dividing line, and John's Landing is the aforementioned zero-prefixed division which has been occasionally called "South", or the area just north of it, the "South Waterfront", even though it's not included in addresses with an S anywhere.
It's an interesting system that I'd never seen before I moved here. Streets are East/West. Avenues are North/South. The compass direction indicates the section of the city that the street is in. And the directional goes up front on streets and on the end for avenues.
It sounds like Portland has the same system - how widespread is it? Is it a pacific NW thing?
A lot of the City of Portland systems have you input your house number, street name, then direction so (guessing) they can validate it. Of course, browsers have been filling form fields for many, many years and I wish they'd just put an address field there.
Roanoke, and nearby Salem, are also nice tests for assumptions people make about addresses hierarchies and local government units. In Virginia, anything legally classified as a city is its own independent governmental unit, subject only to the state government; towns are part of and subject to counties, but cities aren't. Which creates situations like Roanoke the city not being part of Roanoke County (despite being located within the geographic boundaries of the county). And Salem being the county seat of Roanoke County despite legally not being part of the county.
I used to live in Alexandria, which is a city. Occasionally I'd conduct some business where they needed to know which county I was in. I'd tell them "Alexandria" and they'd say, "no, county." Then I got to explain how Virginia is special and that was the closest thing to a "county" that I could give them.
It always amused me that companies who needed this information somehow were unaware of this important fact about one of the states they operated in.
I'm ashamed to admit it took more than a couple U-turns to figure out what was going on and stop beating myself up for "missing it, _again_"...
for those that don't know, portland has five "quadrants" due to the river being the east-west dividing line, and having a few turns. it makes for interesting explanations to visitors - I can't begin to estimate how many times I've drawn the city on a whiteboard for GIS professionals visiting.
Or is it also the same?
Thank goodness our shippers were on point and remembered which one we were.
One afternoon, our infant son suffered a febrile seizure, stopped breathing, lips turned blue, eyes rolled back, and while my wife administered first aid, I called 911 to summon emergency services to "164 East First St, West".
Thankfully, we were able to manage the situation, as the 911 dispatcher thought that I was correcting myself and sent the responding services to 164 West First St. It was more than 15 minutes (which felt like hours) and a return phone call before anyone outside responded to the correct address.
I take some responsibility for the communications gap (in retrospect, there was no need to specify "west"; we'd have gone and got them) and everything worked out perfectly fine for my son, but even 5 years later, it's incredibly hard to type this without tearing up.
Don't beat yourself up too much. Having been a 911 dispatcher before (coincidentally, in Brunswick County, where Ocean Isle Beach is located), I can say that there is a tremendous onus on the dispatcher to verify, double verify, and even triple verify location / address if there is any possible ambiguity. And any BrunsCo dispatcher should know that the local beaches have a lot of those kinds of confusing addresses (Holden Beach has some similar situations, for example).
It's also the case that in years past, before cellphones were ubiquitous, most 911 calls came in on land lines which were mostly strictly associated with a specific physical address. Now, with the ubiquity of cellphones, things are both better and worse in some regards. Now you can often get to a phone faster, and in places where there would be no landlines, but the trade-off is that geolocating cell phones is still not perfect. 
I do have a problem with the houses being called East/West (rather than A and B).
10-15 minutes later, I see lights through the trees. In a minute, I decide to run out. They were across the road at the vacant holiday rental, I wound up in the ambulance to guide them to the right house.
The next year, we ran into the EMT at the county fair, he was pushing for people to sign up for county provided blue house emergency numbers at the turnoff to the house and at the road. And he was telling our story as the inspiration.
Also, in that time, the county renumbered our house to the correct side of the street. Helpfully enough, they did it while we were refinancing the house, so the documents were all wrong when we went to sign.
The street had a sensible name that everyone who lived nearby called it. Let's suppose it's "Thataway Rd" (I am anonymizing all components of this address). But that name wasn't in the USPS database. They called it something like "CC04".
The house at the end of the road was number 50. The road was long and had an increasing number of houses built on it, which used all the numbers up to 48, and then the houses after that became 48B, 48C, 48D, ... 48Q, 48R, 48S... So if you made the address by following the house number with the street name, the address would have been 48R CC04. Which nobody would recognize as an address.
The post office suggested "CC04 Box 48R", which if you filled it into a Web form, would trigger special handling for PO boxes.
On top of that, Google had the ordering of the house numbers backwards, so Google Maps would send people to the wrong end of the long street.
Clearly nobody was happy with this, but I credit the emergency dispatchers with finally pushing through to give everybody a reasonable address based on what they already called the street. Through their effort I finally lived at 14 Thataway Rd instead of 48R CC04.
The only issues I remember was getting each other's mail, and we'd just walk over and post it manually to them.
We added a name to our property so we could use that in mailing addresses to help clarify.
I guess, postal service will make these people to get acquainted :)
And that's not even the most confusing block of streets.
In the old days, my parents mailing address was RD1, Box 300. No street -- you have to tell couriers like UPS (who didn't deliver there until the late 80s) the physical address separately.
Road numbers were added in the early 80s, and mailing addresses were updated in the late 90s when individual telephone lines were available and 911 was mandated.
Directions for emergency services would be like "There's an emergency at the Smith's house, over on Country Road 5 houses after the Jones farm."
Lots will only be given addresses upon request, usually when someone wants mail delivery or if the locality requires you obtain an address for emergency services to obtain a building permit.
The most hilarious bit, though, was when someone moved into the other house and filed their change of address with the address "209 West Blank Not Blank", in a hamfisted attempt to remove ambiguity, but they got it exactly backwards. We got their mail for months.
But then there's the north and northwest suburbs...
In most (all?) of the suburbs out in that direction, the overall roads are laid out on exactly same grid as Chicago, but they are numbered with a separate zero location in each town, which in general are not coordinated in any way. So it is vitally important when navigating to know what town you're in and what you're aiming for; and for extra degree of difficulty, many town boundaries run down the middle of the major grid streets, so you can be headed north and addresses on your right will be increasing North addresses from one town and decreasing South addresses from another. And of course the town boundaries are often not well-marked....
It included going through the intersection at NE 124th Street and 124th Ave NE.
My grandparents live at 297 <Road B>, and to get there you have to take <Road A> off the main road in town. Well, the house immediately before you turn onto <Road B> is 297 <Road A>, but they have their driveway _and mailbox_ physically located on <Road B>. This means that it appears there are two 297 <Road B> even though the other house is on a different road!
This weekend was just the pizza guy going to the wrong house, but a few months ago it was the cops when my grandfather fell and got hurt. Not a great situation!
We'd often find confused people staring at the street signs .... at one point we put up a sign "So you are lost ...."
- at first decrease, from Claremont to College (in Berkeley)
- jump down and then increase, from College to Dover (in Oakland)
- jump back up and then decrease, from Dover to Essex (in Berkeley)
- jump back down and then increase, from Essex to San Pablo (in Oakland)
(I have ignored Emeryville, like everyone does, but I think its addresses follow Oakland's?)
Though honestly, I imagine you'd get pretty friendly with your neighbor and just reciprocally transfer things.
Why don't we just use lat long coordinates or geohashes for addresses? The shit that delivery people have to put up with is truly ridiculous.
Primarily because they're not very people-friendly.
- It's only recently that we have the means to look up alternate representations from coordinates (such as directions between two coordinate points).
- Street addresses partially encode path (as opposed to only point) information. If you know where a street is and how to get to it, it's more likely you can find the address you're looking for.
- It's easier for people to remember and relay. Similar to how people don't refer to each other by some unique numeric identifier, it's easier for people to remember and relay street addresses than numeric ids.
* I'm using street addresses as a proxy for "non-point address". Address encodings around the world are different.
Perhaps postal addressing will change now that we have easier lookup. I believe Fedex and UPS already encode different information in their printed address labels. I suspect something similar to street addresses will persist for quite a while given their human interface strengths.
We would get each other's mail constantly. I knew their names just as well as I knew the names of our next-door neighbors.
Mail is rarely delivered to the wrong place but non-UPS/FedEx Amazon orders go to the wrong place every now and then.
Unfortunately the sign on the house on the right is blurred out.
I'm not quite sure who does, though. At the end they mention trying to get the local authority to do it. Some random googling found http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shet... , where several streets had no names at all for years and the problem was eventually fixed by the local authority.
Edit: Found it: Our local authority (Fife) has an online form where you can request changes to property details and even request a new street be given a name:
Also, for example, roads that didn't actually connect in a navigable way in the middle were given different names as are roads with branches.
A similar issue to that in the article exists in the US--perhaps especially in the Northeast where there are lots of relatively small towns that connect to each other and restart numbers. (Though in New England, they do often change street names.)
[ADDED: Apparently they're assigned by local authorities in the US. ]
> West Virginia entrusted most of the mapping project to individual counties, tasking 911 directors with naming thousands of streets. Different directors subscribed to different naming philosophies. Mercer County’s director pulled names from local history books and Scrabble Web sites. Others Google-Mapped out-of-state towns for inspiration. Some directors gave residents the right to name their own streets, despite the risk that future generations would have to endure, in the case of one town, Crunchy Granola Road. In Raleigh County, some communities named their streets after Disney characters or Vietnam War battles.
That is actually a rather awesome street name, but I wonder if using registered trademarks as part of a public street name is something local government should allow at all.
Odd though; I can't find this nominative oddity on OpenStreetMap (or Google Maps for that matter).
How is a common description of a standard breakfast cereal still a trademark? If granola is an RTM then I'm afraid it's become generic (in UK at least, it's just "what US Americans call muesli").
Wikipedia have it as an RTM only in Australia and NZ.
The towns also deduped street names, so if one town had a Green St, Green Ave and Green Rd, only on kept its name.
What exactly was the problem? (emergency services were concerned that an ambiguous locating would delay their response).
The rationalizing plan associates numbers with distance, so 235 will be very close to 237 and a house 3 miles further will be numbered 873 or so, even with no other addresses in between.
As long as they are re-addressing, they also remove all twin addresses in the same ZIP code -- only one 125 Main St allowed per ZIP. Sometimes this means re-naming streets.
The house I grew up in changed from 85 to 421; our neighbor on the left was 417 and on the right was 435.
I guess if a 999 call said that they're "on the lane near Gorden's Saddlery", that would add a significant delay as the paramedics might have to check 9 lanes.
In London this is granted to them under Local Government Act 1985 (Schedule 8, 14/1); not sure about outside London though.
Note to Americans: in the UK, the floor at street level is the ground floor, the one above that is the first floor, above that is the second floor, etc.
According to the Royal Mail, the addresses here are 29, 29A, and 29B. The normal convention is for 29 to be the ground floor, and 29A and 29B to be the first- and second-floor flats; that appears to be the case based on current and previous occupants' post etc. All well and good.
When i moved in, i was left some documentation from the letting agency who were running the place before that gave the address as 29C. I have seen no other mention of 29C.
The Land Registry knows about three leaseholds here: 29, 29B, and 29. Yes, 29 appears twice. Based on the diagrams and descriptions in the registrations, one 29 is the ground floor flat, 29B is the first floor, the the second floor is 29.
Mostly, this has no impact, and is just annoying. The one real-world consequence is that the bank who issued my neighbour's mortgage thinks her address is 29B, because that's what's on the leasehold they lent against, so i get her mortgage statements.
I thought i'd get this corrected, so i wrote to the Land Registry, and they replied that they would change it if i sent them documentation from my street numbering authority, ie my council, stating the correct numbering.
The council think the flats are called Flat 1, 29 Acacia Avenue, Flat 2, 29 Acacia Avenue, and Flat 3, 29 Acacia Avenue! I don't want the Land Registry to use those designations, as they're even further from the ground truth of what the Royal Mail thinks. I also don't want to risk triggering the Royal Mail updating its database, as that could screw up postal delivery. So i'm stuck.
Meanwhile, and the Valuation Office Agency thinks the flats are called Ground Floor Flat, 29 Acacia Avenue, First Floor ... you get the idea.
Fortunately, all these designations seem to interoperate alright. The VOA sets the bands for council tax, which the council collects, so somehow, the council are mapping those designations to their own ones. The council send me the bills for council tax at Flat 3, and the Royal Mail delivers them.
Oh, and there's another 29 Acacia Avenue in N14, four files north. I get their post sometimes.
EDIT: I spoke too soon. After writing this comment, i thought i'd register to manage my council tax online. The bill is actually sent to "Second Floor, 29 Acacia Avenue", but that address isn't in the list of options on the council's website, which only has "Flat 3, 29 Acacia Avenue". I can't select the former, and the latter is rejected as not matching my account number. Checkmate!
Fun post though. Something to add to "what developers should know about addresses"
(To be clear, I don't actually "believe" in that level of defeatism per se. It's just that they all seem to end up there at the limit.)
There's a platform zero at King's Cross, along with the famous (not actually a platform) "Platform 9 and three quarters"
I couldn't work out from Streetview if it actually exists or not.
It's a different way to look up locations through the entire world, using three random words you can find any address or location with in 10 feet.
The only downside I see is the three words are all English words. Which could be unfamiliar to non English speaking parts of the world.
Just think about how easy it would be teach your children where they live by memorizing just three words instead of House number, Street name, City, State, Zip code.
Three random words have none of these properties.
- It's a proprietary system
- The three words give no clues in relation to other words -- except that similar words are some distance from each other. "59 Main Street" is very often very close to "57 Main Street".
You want a lot of things out of a good address system.
1. Unique identifier. (ie, no duplicates)
2. Reasonably simple to remember. (ie, not lat-longs)
3. Simple levels of abstraction. ("Do you deliver to X?")
4. Recursive routing. (Navigating to one layer of the address, then another, should work reasonably well.)
5. Decentralized implementation. (Localities must be able to assign names while following a few reasonable rules.)
edit: they already have that for what looks like at least 13 major languages.