The precision of Cleveland's addresses

Have you ever noticed how fast the street numbers go up in this town? It turns out that the distance between, say, 25th street and 50th street is one mile. Huh.

But the addresses are given with an extra two numbers--it's 2500 if you're at 25th Street. A mile is 5280 feet, so each number is about two feet! Is that really ... necessary? Could we have cumulatively saved a few man-years of writing and typing effort if we'd started out with one fewer digit a couple centuries ago?

Maybe. But turn the question around: what can you do with this extra information?
  • Differentiate between the front door of a walk-up and the door of the basement apartment in the same building

  • Estimate the width of a property by checking the numbers of the properties to either side

  • Determine whether a car accident occurred because someone was driving on the wrong side of the road

  • Provide the length, width, and depth of a pothole

  • Fly a small airplane between telephone poles, blindfolded

  • Describe the exact location of an individual seen on CCTV, for example, to call in an artillery strike

  • Track continental drift
There's probably more. It strikes me that we could maybe use another digit. With a precision of two inches, the addresses of the left and right sides of your screen could tell me whether you're reading this on a laptop or a desktop computer.