How Many Blocks To A Mile? In Indianapolis, It Depends.

When I was growing up, my mother kept saying that there were ten blocks to a mile. And I, not knowing any better, believed her. But as I started doing research along the lines of surveys and histories, I found that the answer, at least in Marion County, can be a little more complicated than that.

Before Indianapolis came into being, the entire area was survey into “Congressional Townships.” These townships were (roughly) six miles east to west (there are correction lines every six sections, meaning some “miles” are smaller than others), and six miles north to south. East to west are called “ranges,” north to south are called “townships.” Most major streets in Indianapolis are along these lines. The exceptions are usually the original “state roads,” for example Pendleton Pike or Crawfordsville Road. The major exception is Washington Street, which as it goes east, varies from the survey line to the north. The survey line that would be Washington Street runs right behind my back gate, and I live 1/4 mile south of Washington Street.

The survey center of Marion County is located on 10th Street one mile east of Meridian Street. On the southside, that line is Shelby Street. Things get kind of dicey above 62nd Street, as that is a major correction line. That survey center is known as the line separating Townships 15 and 16 North and Ranges III and IV east. So it too is a double correction line.

Going east from Meridian Street, the mile lines are as follows: Shelby Street (1100 E), Keystone Avenue (2400 E), Sherman Drive (3800 E), Emerson Avenue (5100 E), Arlington Avenue (6000 E), Shadeland Avenue (7000 E), Franklin Road (8000 E), Post Road (9000 E), Mitthoeffer Road (10000 E), German Church Road (11000 E) and Carroll Road (the county line, or 12000 E). This makes the miles per block a little odd (11, 13, 14, 13, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, and 10). Only after Arlington is it ten blocks to the mile.

The southside is a little more regular. The mile lines are: Morris/Prospect Streets (1100 S), Raymond Street (2200 S), Troy Avenue (3000 S), Hanna Avenue (4000 S), Thompson Road (5000 S), Edgewood Avenue (6000 S), Southport Road (7000 S), Stop 11 Road (8000 S) and County Line Road (9000 S). From Troy Avenue south, not only are there ten blocks to the mile, the x000 block is also how many miles south of downtown you are. For example, Southport Road, at 7000S, is (really close to) seven miles from downtown. The actual survey line is just south of Washington Street by less than 100 feet.

On the north side, counting gets a little fun. The survey lines are at: 10th Street (1000 N), 21st Street (2100 N), 30th Street (3000 N), 38th Street (3800 N), 46th Street (4600 N), 56th Street (5600 N), 62th Street (6200 N), 71st Street (7100 N), 79th Street (7900 N), 86th Street (8600 N), and 96th Street (9600 N). The numbered streets continue through Hamilton County, where every tenth street is one mile from the last. But that makes the north side blocks per mile at 10, 11, 9, 8, 8, 10, 6, 9, 8, 7, and 10. The streets on the northside ended up being built in a random manner, causing the differing number pattern.

The west side is a little on the strange side, as well. The mile streets are: Drover Street (1000 W), Belmont Street (2100 W), Tibbs Avenue (3400 W), Roena Street (4200 W), Lynhurst Drive (5300W), High School Road (6300 W), Girls School Road (7300 W), Country Club Road (8300 W), and Raceway Road (Hendricks-Marion County Line, 9300 W). The major difference on the west side is that very few of the roads actually go through anywhere. These roads run in sections. But a look at a map will show the locations of the survey lines, as most subdivisions in Marion County end at the survey lines.

Because of the way Indianapolis was built above 62nd Street, very few of the mile roads exist in any length. The survey line that is Meridian Street south of 62nd Street becomes College Avenue above it. The Range Line, that matches Shelby Street on the south side is Westfield Boulevard above 91st Street…and Range Line Road in central Carmel.

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