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Traveling in Gainesville can be confusing at first. Examples: University Avenue, Newberry Road and State Road 26 are all the names for the same byway. And there’s more than one 5th Avenue.

Strange? Not really. Believe it or not, there is rhyme and reason to Gainesville’s layout.

First, you need to know that Gainesville is set up in quadrants: northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast. The quadrants start at the intersection of Main Street (the north and south axis) and University Avenue (the east and west axis). When a road crosses Main or University, it changes name. (hence, NE 5th Avenue and SE 5th Avenue).

Now that you know your quadrants, the next thing you need to do is learn which way avenues, streets and such run. To help with that, just remember the name APRIL. It’s the key to deciphering the grid code. A is for Avenue, P for Place, R for Road and L for Lane (forget the “I”). All of these run east and west. Everything else (streets, boulevards, etc.) generally run north and south. Of course, there are always exceptions, but 98% of the time, that’s how it works.

Got that down? Now comes the easy part. Roadways are numbered consecutively, starting at the intersection of University and Main . If you head any direction from that busy intersection, you’ll come across 1st Street or Avenue (depending on which direction you’re going), then 2nd, 3rd and so on. Therefore, 34th Street is going to be approximately 34 blocks from Main.

Gainesville, Florida rentals and building addresses are organized by consecutive numbers too. So if, for example, you’re at University Avenue and NW 13th Street and you have an appointment at 4061 NW 43rd Street, you just head west for about 30 blocks until you hit 43rd Street. Then turn right (to head north) and go about 40 blocks.

There are some exceptions. A few Gainesville apartments are located on streets that have names rather then numbers such as Depot Road, NE Boulevard, Museum Road, etc. They usually have some historic significance. Then there’s Newberry Road (which goes to Newberry), Archer Road (which goes to Archer), Hawthorne Road (which goes… you’ve got the idea). Also, some roads change names as you move along them. For example, you might start on NW 16th Avenue and, without ever turning off of it, find that you’re suddenly on 16th Boulevard, then 23rd Avenue. Because those roads weren’t laid out in a straight line, the names need to be adjusted as they move into other sections of the grid.

What can I say? These uncategorized areas are part of what makes Gainesville charming and interesting. Happy Exploring!

Printed with permission of Insite Magazine.