I love living in DC for so many reasons. Chief among them is the way the streets are laid out; L’Enfant was not playing around! The nation’s capitol is just one giant coordinate grid, which makes living here kind of like a fun game.
The grid is one of my favorite things to explain to lost tourists. North-South streets are numbered 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. and East-West streets are lettered A, B, C, etc. State avenues are diagonal. Here’s the part of town by the U Street Metro:
See how it goes Q R S T U V W and 13 14 15 16? The main diagonal street in there is Florida Avenue. To put this section in the context of the entire city, the Capitol building is at the origin (0,0). The y-axis is North/South Capitol Street, and to the East and the West streets count up 1st, 2nd, 3rd. The x-axis is East Capitol Street/ The National Mall, and to the North and the South streets “count” up A, B, C*.
I’ve been training for a 10K, so most mornings I run a few miles before it gets too hot – July humidity being a downside to living in DC. My iPod tells me when I’ve reached half, which is extremely useful if I’m running on a trail because I can just turn around exactly then and get back to where I started. If I’m running by my apartment I usually run some distance West then some distance South until halfway, then run East and North until I get home.
Sometimes, though, I’ll hit Massachusetts Avenue:
I’m all for Greenspace but Stanton Park messes up my run every single morning. The plan is to run West then South but the crosswalk signals always make me switch onto Massachusetts Avenue! I’m still going West but now I’m going North, too.
The math problem is this: I started at 11th St. and F St. NE and stayed on Massachusetts Ave. until going south on 2nd St. NE. At which corner should I start heading North/East?
*Not to confuse you but there’s no B St. NE or NW – it’s Constitution Ave. B St. SW and SE is replaced with Independence Ave. Near the Mall, A St. SW is replaced with Jefferson Dr., and A St. NW is replaced with Madison Dr. There is no J street.
Way Northwest when the alphabet runs out it’s still organized. First it’s two-syllable words beginning with A, B, C, etc., then when that runs out it’s three-syllable words beginning with A, B, C, etc. Best city ever!