Comprehensive Street Naming and Addressing Systems

Zoning Practice — March 2023

By justin wallace, AICP


ZP subscriber
List price
Sign In & Download

Not a member but want to buy a copy? You'll need to create a free My APA account to purchase. Create account

Street names and addresses serve as everyday wayfinding devices in our surroundings, often unnoticed, while casually contributing to ambience and the symbolic meaning of a place. At first glance, the naming of streets and numbering of addresses may seem like a simple and mundane task. On the contrary, assigning street nomenclature and addresses is a defining part of a community's identity.

Street naming and addressing systems can reveal our organized way of life and power structures. On a fundamental level, these systems reflect and embody our core civic and democratic values. On a more practical level, these systems are critical for navigating and understanding a place, city, or region. And, in terms of information management, the concept of assigning addresses and street names is becoming more complex and sophisticated.

This issue of Zoning Practice explores the core components of a comprehensive street naming and property numbering system. It begins with a brief examination of the varied roles these systems play in urban and regional management and a short history of the evolution of street naming and property numbering in the U.S. Then it offers considerations for contemporary systems, in light of evolving values within the planning field.


Page Count
Date Published
March 1, 2023
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Author

justin wallace, AICP
Justin Wallace brings nearly 15 years of public and private sector experience to current planning efforts. His expertise blends his planning, urban design, and architectural background to bring creative problem solving and design solutions to the table. Justin has collaborated with communities on master planning, policy, and zoning implementation. He enjoys the process of elevating communities through design and, in particular, how design can play a significant role as part of the process.