Monday, August 20, 2012

Directions: It is not always the man's fault

Probably one of the oldest relationship issues that are continually addressed in movies, sitcoms, and stand up routines would be the difference between Men and Women regarding navigational skills and techniques.  In general, men use internal knowledge and rules to determine how to get from point A to point B.  We learn the various navigational tools available and remember points of reference.  We figure out generally where Point B is and start heading that way.  Women, I feel, like to be told a list of steps on how to get there.  There isn't always any verification that the steps are correct or will get them into the right location.

So a slight disagreement between Mr. and Mrs. occurred Saturday evening on the topic of where a building was and how to get there.  This argument started all the way back in 1830 when the City of Chicago established streets in a grid like fashion.  Quite the genius decision back in a time before motor vehicles.  While it was a good start, the system was not perfect with inconsistent numbering and duplicate street names.  In 1908 the City realized this was an issue and took steps to fix-it.  The result being a system of street numbering that creates a coordinate system to get anywhere in the City.  The numbers originate at State and Madison with State being 0 E/W and Madison being 0 N/S.  From State, numbers increase as you go either east or west.  So, 50 E. Madison would be to the west should you be on State.  It was also decided that every 100 would equate to a block.  So, 100 E. Madison would be one block east of State St.  Block sizes were also standardized and square.  Other than the diagonal streets and a few exceptions like Lake Shore Drive, street names stay on the same East/West line or North/South line.  If you are at Halsted anywhere in the City, for example, you are at 800 West or 8 blocks west of State St.  If you need to get to an address of 400 W _______, you travel east.  It is really simple.

So fast forward 104 years later into a car with Mr. and Mrs. FixIt trying to find 111 E. Chestnut.  This is an easy task I know that Chestnut is north of Chicago Ave, Chicago Ave is 800 N block of the City.  Also, Michigan Ave is the 100 East block of the City.  So, I knew my destination was just north of Chicago Ave and slightly east of Michigan avenue.  Google maps told the Mrs. that the destination was in fact on the West side of Michigan ave, at which point I said that cannot be true and Google was wrong.  (Google, if you are reading this, I apologize for questioning your knowledge, oh and thank you for the pictures contained in this post.)  "Discussion" was being had between my wife and I that I am sure was comical and at the same time slightly uncomfortable to those in the car with us.  So, stubbornly, I drive to the location in which the building should be and it was not.  Being that it took forever to circle the block was not helping the situation.  My grid system of perfect coordinates and reference points had failed me and my wife and technology were sitting in the passenger seat saying "I told you so."  Ugh, what happened?  I know that Michigan is 100 East, so it HAS to be east of Mich Ave, not west.  So I figured that Mich Ave does jog a little east as it goes north, maybe north of the river it is 150 East and not 100 east.  This would give reason to the fact that 111 East was still west of Mich Ave and I could just chalk up another piece of knowledge in my directional database.  That was until we passed the sign below.  It proves Mich Ave was still considered 100 East, and addresses with numbers greater than 100 E should still be on the east side of Mich Ave.  

I don't really have a moral to the story other than shedding light on the difference in directions between the sexes.  So, even armed with a century old system and almost 20 years of experience navigating the City, my wife chose to place her trust in the pin on a google map.  Ultimately it appears there is a flaw in the street numbering system in Chicago, a numbering system more than likely created by just men.  So there in, it remains, that  women are always right.

Anyone have any insight into why navigating a car can be so difficult for a couple to do?

(Google, if you are reading this, I apologize for questioning your knowledge, oh and thank you for the pictures contained in this post.)


  1. Love this! Many a "loud conversation" as my parents would say has been had over direction between my husband and I but now four years in he finally admitted my sense of direction is better then his!

  2. I DEFINITELY have a way better sense of direction than my husband. I don't think it has anything to do with being male or female, rather being intuitive rather than sensing.

  3. I happen to be really good at directions via google maps/trial and error/general knowledge. I think the idea of the coordinate system is really neat and interesting! I'm sorry it failed you!

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