What is behind the assignment of house numbers in Manhattan within the checkerboard pattern is often not so easy to understand for the uninitiated. For example, one can stand in front of the address 10 West 34th Street and after 150 meters find oneself in front of 30 East 34th Street. However, the system, which is unfamiliar to Europeans, is based on a simple principle.
Manhattan is long and narrow. The streets that run along the approximately 20 km north-south axis are called avenues. Those that run from east to west, here the maximum stretch is 4 km, are called Streets. At the eastern or western end of the island is the East River or the Hudson River.
Among the Streets, 5th Avenue, which runs pretty much down the middle of Manhattan, has the role of ‘divider’. The closer a building is to 5th Avenue on a Street, the lower the house number, and the farther away, the higher.
An address like 10 West 34th Street means you are a short distance west of 5th Avenue. 700 East 14th Street, on the other hand, is very far east, almost on the East River. There are hardly any house numbers higher than 700.
For Avenues, there are only simple numbers, with no North or South addition. They get bigger the further north you go. For example, 9th Avenue starts at 14th Street and ends at Columbus Circle at 58th Street with the number 925.
Why a checkerboard pattern was chosen and the reason why a large part of Manhattan is not in it can be read here: