Michigan and State. The chicago grid system explained. Photo by Kate Frankenberg.The Chicago Grid System is pretty simple to learn and is an amazing tool for knowing where you are around the city, but it is useless if you don't know how it works. Since OFF THE GRID's name is based of this handy urban planning invention, I thought it only appropriate I explain it to my loyal readers!  So here it is -  the Chicago grid system explained!

Chicago is laid out like a grid with the epicenter or heart being at Madison and State. Each street is then labeled North, East, South, and West based on their relation to the heart of the grid system. The address, or coordinate, at Madison and State is 0/0.

From there, each city block address rises in increments of 100. Two blocks north of Madison and State would be 200 North Madison and so on and so forth.

There are North/South streets and East/West streets and the key is knowing what East/West street coincides with the North/South street. For example, if someone says "I am at 800 N Lasalle" you would know that they are at Lasalle and Chicago Avenue. Here is a nifty little list:


Major East/West streets North of Madison & State

800 N Chicago

1600 N North

2400 N Fullerton

3200 N Belmont

4000 N Irving Park

4800 N Lawrence

5600 N Bryn Mawr

Major North/South streets West of Madison & State

800 W  Halsted

1600 W Ashland

2400 W Western

3200 W Kedzie

4000 W Pulaski

4800 W Cicero

5600 W Central

Major East/West streets South of Madison & State

1200 S Roosevelt

2200 S Cermak

3100 S 31st

3900 S Pershing

4700 S 47th

5500 S 55th

Major North/South streets East of Madison & State

800 E Cottage Grove

1600 E Stony Island

2400 E Yates

3200 E Brandon

Now if you are at the 2000th block of West North Avenue and you will know exactly where you are in the city!

Fun Facts

  • At the heart of the Grid System (Madison and State), the streets don't actually line up perfectly.
  • September 1, 1909 marks the beginning of the Chicago Grid System
  • Edward P Brennan was the brains and lobbyist behind the system



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2 Comments on "The Chicago Grid System Explained"

Susan Graunke
5 years 6 months ago

Wow! This is very Informative!!!