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There are a number of places in New York—for example, Manhattan, Park Slope, and northwestern Queens—where the streets running in both directions are numbered. What’s the convention for which number is given first when you’re naming an intersection? For example, is “Third and Fifth” 3rd Street and 5th Avenue or is it 3rd Avenue and 5th Street? Is there a different convention in each of the places where there are intersections like this?

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This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about travel. –  Flimzy Apr 21 at 13:09

3 Answers 3

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Honestly? There's only a few dozen intersections where this sort of ambiguity is a thing; while Street, Avenue is the most common usage, I've heard the reverse often enough, as have most New Yorkers, that if you're talking about an intersection of two single digit roads, you're going to qualify/classify it.

There are a variety of reasons that this doesn't matter much elsewhere in New York.

In Manhattan, it's because Avenues only go up to 12, and there are some 200 crosstown streets; the West Village and it's peculiar bending of the grid and named streets means that you have very few intersections of numbered Streets with numbered Avenues south of 14th. (Specifically, you have two 'First and Seconds', and a pair of "Third and Sixths". That's it. You can confirm that on a map if you like.)

In Brooklyn, you have several separate street grids. Numbered streets intersect with named streets in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, but be sure to remember the North or South designation. Over in Park Slope, you run into the only real potential source of confusion - but they're all within a fairly small 5x5 block area - it's not a huge issue. In South Brooklyn, the intersecting streets are numbers and letters, so again, not a problem.

Finally we have Queens. Queens is, to the uninitiated, a total mess. The thing to understand about Queens, is that you can have as many as 5 streets with the same number running in parallel to each other, and another 5 running perpendicular across the entire borough. In Queens, you'll never give a location as number and number, because the suffix (Street, Avenue, Road, Drive, Court, Place, Terrace, Crescent, etc.) is essential information in the address.

To use your own example, there is literally no such place as "Third and Fifth" anywhere in NYC anyway; and most other, similar examples you might contrive don't actually exist to cause the confusion you'd imagine that they could. It generally doesn't matter, because for the vast majority of cases, the numbers themselves imply where the pair meets.

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Queens is, to the uninitiated, a total mess. - Amen to that. :) –  Karlson Apr 20 at 15:47
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@Karlson In fairness, to the initiated, the scheme makes a ton of sense and has a whole lot of charm in it's internal logic and orderliness! –  LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 20 at 15:56
    
Personally I hate that scheme in Queens I find it annoying... –  Karlson Apr 20 at 15:58
    
In certain neighborhoods in Queens—such as Woodside, Jackson Heights, or East Elmhurst—the intersection of numbered streets is almost always unambiguous because the street numbers are higher than avenue numbers. –  puri Apr 20 at 20:01
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@puri but even in those neighborhoods, you have Avenues running parallel to Roads and Streets running parallel to Drives. Unless a named street is involved or a suffix is provided, purely numerical coordinates will always be ambiguous. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 20 at 21:11

In Brooklyn for example, addresses are designated as follows:

1350 50th St

The 13 designates 13th Avenue, meaning that this location is on 50th street, on the block where it intersects with 13th Avenue.

On the other hand, the corresponding location on 13th Avenue would be:

5050 13th Ave 

The 50 designates 50th Street, meaning that this location is on 13th Avenue, on the block where it intersects with 50th Street.

If so, either way would be appropriate, depending on your point of reference: If you're talking about a place on 13th Avenue, you'd say 50th and 13th, but if you're on 50th Street, you'd say 13th and 50th.

Some areas in other parts of NYC have similar addressing schemes - when possible, I'd say let the address be your guide. Unfortunately, as other answers have noted, in certain parts of NYC, particularly Queens, all bets are off...

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Actually, when it comes to building addresses, Queens has the most comprehensive, widespread, useful and consistent scheme in the whole city; however, this question is about designating intersections specifically, which is a whole other ball of wax. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 21 at 2:49
    
Yet yourself remarked: Finally we have Queens. Queens is, to the uninitiated, a total mess - and the OP is obviously uninitiated, as am I, when it comes to Queens! –  Vector Apr 21 at 3:01
    
with respect to street naming? absolutely! it's Byzantine and confusing. Addresses however, are another matter entirely xxx-yy ZZ St/Ave/Rd/etc., where xxx is the nearest intersecting street, and yy is the number of buildings between the address in question and that street. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 21 at 3:03
    
Provided you know if you're talking about street, avenue, road, drive... or whatever else they have out there... :) –  Vector Apr 21 at 3:10
    
which is why the whole address is so important... And why for the purposes of this question, Queens is a mess. :P –  LessPop_MoreFizz Apr 21 at 3:10

Avenues run uptown and downtown, streets run crosstown. At least that is how it is in Manhattan. So if you were downtown at lets say 1st Ave and 1st street, you can take 1st ave all the way uptown to 100th street. (it goes further than that, but I think you get the point)

In Brooklyn you have the same kind of setup. Main avenues running down the streets. So it would go something like E24th st & Avenue J.

Generally the lingo for NYC streets is dependent on where you are. In my mind, I have always gone street-ave. So I would interpret that as 3rd street and 5th ave, but I can easily see someone like a cab driver getting that messed up if you say third and fifth. Whenever I get in a cab I always give the more specific street first, followed by the intersection. So if I was going to Grand Central, I would say (normally grand central but for these purposes) 42nd & Park.

Edit :

Think about an address, the more specific part comes first, and then the broader location. So you say Albany (specific), New York (non-specific). Apply the same concept to streets. There are only a handful of avenues but there are a lot of streets.

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“42nd and Park” isn’t a great example because there’s no ambiguity… –  bdesham Apr 20 at 15:03
    
@bdesham right was using an unambiguous example for the format. But like I said if someone told me to meet them at 3rd & 5th I would go to 3rd street and 5th ave. But truthfully most of the time I will probably clarify, because as you can see it is easy to get that mixed up. –  Adjit Apr 20 at 15:12
    
@bdesham updated answer for a better explanation –  Adjit Apr 20 at 15:16
    
@Adjit - I'm a lifelong NY'er, and if someone told me to meet them at 3rd and 5th, I'd think they meant 3rd Avenue and 5th street, but there is no such place - 3rd Avenue doesnt' go down that far. So... :) –  Vector Apr 21 at 1:42
    
@comeandgo lifelong nyer as well. I guess there is really no right answer to this. Just a matter of who does what –  Adjit Apr 21 at 1:44

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