New York City’s grid system is not an exact science. Streets are not equally spaced. The distances between New York City’s streets and avenues varies, sometimes by several feet. This we know through reading the 1892 The World Almanac’s section Information About the City of New York.
It follows that the sane looking for the shortest distances between two places can discover the right route; whilst the joggers (the insane) can go by the longer way.
The team at Stuff Nobody Cares About explain further:
There are a few interesting things to note. One is how far Avenues A, B, C and D extended northward in 1892. Avenue A was later renamed Sutton Place north from 53rd Street and York Avenue north from 59th Street. Avenue B was renamed East End Avenue from 79th to 90th Street. Many portions of Avenue A, B, C and D were never completed (the landfill required to extend them was never done), or wiped out with map changes and construction in the 20th century (e.g. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive). Regardless, the almanac still lists the proposed dimensions for the phantom avenues via the Bureau of Buildings.
The other thing to note is that the main cross streets of 14th, 23rd, 34th etc. are all the same: 100 feet wide as compared to the other streets which are all 60 feet wide.
I have used the modern names of avenues in parentheses. Below are some highlights of the chart.
Avenues in Manhattan are 100 feet wide with some notable exceptions:
Lexington Avenue – 75 feet
Boulevard (Broadway) above 59th Street – 150 feet
Madison Avenue South of 42nd Street – 75 feet
Madison Avenue North of 42nd Street – 80 feet
Madison Avenue From 120th to 124th Streets – 100 feet
Sixth Avenue (Lenox/Malcolm X Boulevard) North of 110th Street – 150 feet
Seventh Avenue (Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard) North of 110th Street – 150 feet
Eleventh Avenue (West End Avenue) North of 110th Street – 150 feet
The length of blocks North of Houston Street vary depending upon the street. Examples:
The distances between 3rd and 5th Streets are 192 feet and 1 inch
The distances between 6th and 7th Streets are 181 feet and 9 inches
The distances between 11th and 16th Streets are 206 feet and 6 inches
The distances between 16th and 21st Streets are 184 feet and 0 inches
The distances between 21st and 42nd Streets are 197 feet and 6 inches
The distances between 42nd and 71st Streets are 200 feet and 10 inches
The distances between 71st and 86th Streets are 204 feet and 4 inches
The distances between 86th and 96th Streets are 201 feet and 5 inches
The distances between 97th and 125th Streets are 201 feet and 10 inches
The distances between streets north of 125th Street are 199 feet and 10 inches
The distances between the avenues vary quite a bit and also depend upon the section of Manhattan they are located in.
Distances Between the Avenues from 34th to 42nd Streets
Avenues D and C – 646 feet
Avenues C and B – 646 feet
Avenues B and A – 646 feet
Avenues A and First – 613 feet
Avenues First and Second – 650 feet
Avenues Second and Third – 610 feet
Avenues Third and Lexington – 420 feet
Avenues Lexington and Fourth (Park Avenue) – 405 feet
Avenues Fourth and Madison – 405 feet
Avenues Madison and Fifth – 420 feet
Avenues Fifth and Sixth – 920 feet
All the avenues between Sixth and Twelfth – 800 feet
Distances Between the Avenues from 42nd to 110th Streets – All the streets are the same with the exception of:
Avenues Fourth and Madison – 405 feet
Distances Between the Avenues north of 110th Street – the distances for the east side avenues remain the same but some of the west side avenues change. The changes include:
Avenues Fifth and Sixth – 895 feet
Avenues Sixth and Seventh – 750 feet
Avenues Seventh and Eighth – 775 feet
Avenues Tenth and Eleventh- 775 feet
Avenues Eleventh and Twelfth – 775 feet