What Fraction of a City Block Makes a Mile?

Each city has its own set of city blocks that make up a mile. Blocks vary in length across the United States because there is no set size for a municipal block there.

Knowing the typical size of a block in the city in question is important to calculate how many blocks there are in a mile. The length of a pedestrian-friendly block is between 300 and 600 feet, according to urban planners. Miles are 5,280 feet long. A mile would be 11.73 blocks if the appropriate distance of 300 to 600 feet were used as the average.

However, block length varies a lot. In New York, for instance, a city block is typically 750 feet long, although blocks in Philadelphia are typically 400 to 500 feet long and blocks in Portland, Oregon, are typically about 200 feet long.

So, to get a mile in New York, one would only need to walk about 7 blocks. To account for the walking direction is important because not all city blocks are square. Calculation should be modified if the block in question has a width that is similar to a rectangular block.

Misha Khatri
Misha Khatri is an emeritus professor in the University of Notre Dame's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics and a PhD in Physical Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah.

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