Driving Tips for Salt Lake City: Understanding the Grid

Travel Tips — By cbalaz on January 30, 2012 at 9:58 am


Salt Lake 1954; davecito image; www.flickr.com

Notice the shorthand street names: in 1954, 2nd East was 200 East, so on.


Salt Lake City has one of the most notorious and seemingly mysterious street numbering systems in the nation. However, anyone who lives in Salt Lake City – or who is mathematically minded – agrees that this system is incredibly useful and straightforward once learned.

When thinking about Salt Lake‘s streets, imagine a graph – like one from sophomore geometry class. The center of this grid is (0,0); here this is Temple Square (or, more precisely, the intersection of Main Street and South Temple Street). Think of South Temple Street as the graph’s X-axis, and Main Street as the Y-axis. In Salt Lake City, almost all streets run north-south or east west – and perpendicular to each other. Counting away from the Temple, parallel streets are named in order of increasing distance from this center point.

North-South Running Streets:

Main Street is the Y-axis, and has a value of “0.” The street running parallel to, but east of, Main Street is 100 East, followed by 200 East and 300 East. To the west of the Temple, the same rule applies. The first street to the west is called 100 West Street, and the 12th is 1200 West Street.

East-West Running Streets:

The streets parallel to the X-axis, South Temple, are named in the same order. The first street north of the temple is 100 North, and the 10th street south of it is 1000 South.

Putting it Together:

Once you’ve learned this, you’ll recognize immediately that the intersection of 900 East and 700 South is nine blocks east and seven blocks south of the Temple.

Specific building addresses are given as a more precise location along a certain street. Cafe Trio has the address 680 South 900 East. It is located on 900 East Street, quite near – just north of – the intersection of 900 East and 700 South.

One final word of advise: many streets carry a proper name in addition to their numerical names. Don’t worry; both should be printed on road signs.

Looking south on Salt Lake City; Edgar Zuniga Jr. image; www.flickr.com

Looking south from Capitol Hill; State Street (100 East Street) stretches the entire length of the valley.

Tags: Driving in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City Grid System