[Talk-us] The Two Uses For Directional Prefixes.

Kevin Atkinson kevin at atkinson.dhs.org
Fri Aug 13 06:46:44 BST 2010

On Thu, 12 Aug 2010, Alan Millar wrote:

> You may think it doesn't really belong as part of the street name, and
> that may possibly be true in your neighborhood.  But in my neighborhood,
> it definitely IS part of the street name and can't be left off, for
> mailing or not.  In my part of the Portland area, SW Takena is a
> completely separate unrelated street from NW Takena.  In Seattle, Forest
> Ave S is completely separate and unrelated from Forest Ave SE.
> So I disagree, it does belong as part of the street name.  If you have a
> prefix or suffix that you think is optional, don't call it the
> directional prefix or suffix that the rest of the country uses; we have
> them for a reason.

Directional prefixes are used for two different purposes:

1) To indicate if the address is to the North/South or East/West of
from the center of the grid.  Think of it as more of a
positive/negative for an address.  North/South streets get an East or
West prefix while East/West Streets get an North or South prefix when
forming an address.  A good concrete test is if, when giving a street
intersection, can the prefix be left of with out ambiguity.  For
example, in Salt Lake City, "200 South and 300 East" has only one
possible location.  In fact with the directional prefixes it just
sounds silly "East 200 South and South 300 East".  Also it could lead
to confusion if not read very carefully as it would be very easy to
read that as "200 East and 300 South", which _is_ a different location. 
When the streets are named rather than numbered than including the 
directional prefixes is a little less silly, but it is still redundant.

2) The other use is when the specify a region of a city, in this case 
leaving them off could lead to ambiguities.  This is the case you are 
talking about.

Both of them are legitimately called directional prefixes, but there 
importance is very different.

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