This may qualify under the category of “win a beer at bar” level trivia and it could be you need to be quite the dork to care, but here’s something interesting that I learned this week in broker licensing classes.
The greater Phoenix area’s are built on a grid system. This, at the risk of understatement, is the greatest invention in the history of mankind, though my opinion could be colored by my own adventures attempting to get around non-grid areas like Minneapolis in the past. Numbered streets at to the east of Central Avenue, numbered avenues to the west and named roads run east-west across town. Nearly all of the major roads are one mile apart – this is because they follow the Gila & Salt River Baseline and Meridian survey. Without going into too much detail, inside the survey are things called townships and sections, and the sections are one mile square. Thus the one-mile distance between streets.
Still with me? Good deal.
I think most of you will agree that the earth is in fact not flat. So, because of the curvature of the earth, there are adjustments made every 24 miles give or take, where the north-south roads (also known as meridians), jog just under two hundred feet to the west. The example used in class was the area in Mesa-Tempe south of Baseline road which, in practice, really is somewhere between south of US 60 and south of Baseline. Having grown up in the area, I knew the roads all bent but didn’t have the slightest idea why.
Driving home last night, I noticed the first time a similar jog on 51st Avenue south of Bell. Checking the map, there’s this …
There’s a problem, though, with my theory as it pertains to the west side; the adjustments are supposed to come every 24 miles and this area’s only about 18 to 19 miles away from the adjustment near Baseline road. At the same time, there is no grid much further north of the area. Above Union Hills and especially north of Deer Valley the roads are a hodgepodge thanks to multiple hills and the less-dense population.
But, honestly, if you’re drinking in Glendale or northwest Phoenix, you’ll still probably win a beer.