When Evansville was platted, houses didn't have specific street numbers. In older city directories, homes are listed only by a description (i.e. "northeast side of 1st between Chestnut and Cherry").
It wasn't until May 1873 that the city passed an ordinance adopting a numbering system. At the same time, the city sought to put some order behind its street names. Numbered streets in Lamasco and other roads enveloped by the growing town had duplicate names. Also some shorter roads were combined to give some cohesion, though the resulting street jogs may seem odd to today's driver. Click here for a list of renamed streets.
The street numbers were based on the block and the house's location within the block. For the most part houses followed the formula below.
||Downtown streets running northwest-southeast
||Upper - number of blocks southeast from Division St|
Lower - number of blocks northwest from Division St
|Streets running east-west
||West - number of blocks west from Fulton Ave|
East - number of blocks east from Fulton Ave
||number of blocks from the beginning of the street
House numbers were determined by which side of the street the house was on and its relative distance from the start of the block. Most blocks contained between 20 and 30 lots, though larger houses or double lots caused some numbers to skip. A house at the start of the block would be lower (i.e. 201) whereas one toward the end of the block would be higher (i.e. 424). For the most part, as you continued up a street away from the beginning, houses on the right were odd and houses on the left were even.
The rapid growth of Evansville, especially after the turn of the century, caused several issues with the city's street system. As boundary lines extended and land was subdivided, some streets didn't line up and different designs caused street jogs and dead ends. Additionally with the advent of automobiles, street widths and layouts varied and the town sought to put some uniformity in its city planning.
A 1925 booklet issued by the city plan commission addressed the problem (available here from EVPL eBooks). Not all the proposed changes were made, but several were implemented. Some streets were renamed and the house numbering used in Evansville was altered. The intent was so that blocks had the same number across the map and an address would give you an idea of the distance from downtown. The changes took place in 1929 and are summarized below. Several streets were also renamed. For more on that click here.
||Downtown streets are indexed from Division St/Court St (Upper/Lower, later S/N)
||Downtown streets are indexed from Main St (SE/NW)
||Streets running east-west are indexed from Fulton Ave (W/E)
||Streets running east-west are indexed from N Main St (W/E)
||Streets running north-south are indexed from Pennsylvania St/Division St (N/S)
||Other streets are indexed from the start of the street
||Other streets are indexed from their relative position to Main St or Pennsylvania St/Division St
For the most part the numbering was a simple retrofitting of the block number (hundreds digit) but
there were some exceptions (St Boniface Rectory at 616 Wabash became 418 N Wabash). Streets
with long blocks often had to create half blocks which started at 50 instead of 0.
(Barnett Drug Store at 300 Washington Ave became 250 Washington). Also houses between Fulton and Main
and between Main and Division/Court switched their prefix (E vs. W or NW/Lower vs. SE/Upper). The table
below summarizes formulas used to calculate the block number of the new address for most of these
|East-West streets||West of Fulton: new = old + 1100|
Betweeen Fulton and Main: new = 1100 - old; replace E with W
East of Main: new = old - 1200
|Upper-Lower streets||Northwest of Court St: new = old + 300; replace Lower with NW|
Between Court and Main: new = 300 - old; replace Upper with NW
southeast of Main: new = old - 300; replace Upper with SE