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Getting Around in Utah

Navigating Utah's Streets - The Grid System
Utah's street naming and numbering system is based on a grid system with the Salt Lake Temple as the center of town. This system makes for some unique addresses. Where else do you see an address such as 2150 East 13400 South? Although this can be very confusing and frustrating to someone who is unfamiliar with this system, it is actually a very efficient way of doing things. Here is an explanation of our roads so you may better find your way.

Let's use Salt Lake City as an example. Temple Square is the "Center" of town, and is bordered by North Temple to the North, South Temple to the South, West Temple to the west and Main Street to the East. The intersection of South Temple and Main is considered grid point 0,0.

From the center (grid point 0,0), the streets are incremented by 100, and are named by the position relative to the center. The names of streets running North/South and positioned to the east of Main Street are named 200 East, 300 East and so on. The same logic applies to the streets on the other 3 sides.

So, if you are looking for 300 south and 500 East, you know that the location will be 3 blocks South and 5 blocks East of the center of town.

Confusion comes in to play because the streets that run North/South are called either an "East" street or a "West" street. Remember, they are named after the positions relative to the center, and not the direction they run.

Also, residents tend to say "1st South" when they are referring to "100 South". This gets interesting as you go "way south" and you need to refer to 100th South (Do you mean 100 South or 10000 South??) The way to tell here is the inclusion (or elimination) of the "th". 100th South is 10000 South. 100 South (note no "th") is 100 South or 1st South.

OK, now that I've told you the rule, lets discuss the exceptions.

All the cities in Salt Lake County adhere to this rule. Everything in that county is relative to the center of Salt Lake City. An address in Sandy can be 1300 East 10000 South. Other counties don't do this, and each town has it's own center. So, if you're driving along state street in Provo, and you're seeing numbers like 1600 North, and 1700 North, suddenly, you've crossed into Orem and now you're seeing 1600 South.

Another means of confusion is that streets that curve will change names. At I-15, there is an exit for 4500 South, But, as you travel west on 4500 South, and as it curves, it becomes 4700 South (see #1 on map opposite). (The same thin happens for several other streets.)

And for 1 last way to get confused... Not all streets go all the way through. There are blocks where a street "dead-ends" and then picks up on the other side of the block that is plopped right down on it. (see #2 on map opposite). 700 East (aka 7th East) does this in Murray. Driving North on 7th East from Midvale, you will come to a place (7200 South) where 7th East ends. But it picks up again about 4800 South.

But, once you get used to it, you'll see that it really is a wonderful system, and really simplifies finding places. Let's say you want to go to "Joe's Bar and Grill", and the address in the phone book says "500 East 1300 South", you know exactly which way to head. You don't have to wonder where the street is like you would if the street was called something like Maple Street.

Be sure to check my article on Utah's Colloquialisms to become enlightened about the local language.

Backroads of Utah
by Theresa A. Husarik

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