How Are House Numbers Assigned

Moreover, even if house names had been visible, and even if there had been a register of house names, a name-based addressing system would nonetheless have posed problems. an object targeted by state authorities might have been missed owing to the confusion of houses because of homonymy.For example, at the end of the eighteenth century, there were six buildings downtown Vienna and other twenty three located in the suburbs named « » (At the Golden Eagle’s); thus, all together there were twenty nine houses that could be mixed up under a name-based addressing system12.

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It aimed to give the state access to the riches and resources of every house, and to make it easier to control, tax or recruit their inhabitants, or to lodge soldiers.

After an overview of the house numbering development in18-century Europe, this article treats the different systems of house numbering (consecutive numbering of all the houses in the city or in a district, block numbering, the ‘clockwise schemes’, the even/odd system etc), arguing that it was difficult to make people accept the difference between the address and the physical data (the house). Cette technologie n’a pas été introduite dans le but de simplifier l’orientation des habitants des villes ou d’être utile aux étrangers.

They were continuously numbered since the fifteenth century; in the sixteenth century they bore golden numerals on a red background.

Anyway Jeanne Pronteau, house numbers historian, denies that this kind of numbering can be regarded as a precursor of later house numbering, although the numbers were used for identification purposes by the administration.

Provision of numbers served the purpose of assigning a unique address to each house, thus ensuring that the state could get hold of the subjects living therein.

At a time when the modern state was taking shape, authorities were bothered with houses being cut off from the public world; their walls – so permeable for the lodgers11 – appeared an impenetrable barrier to the state’s pursuits of power.House numbering in this case was used to fight against city growth; tracking down a house by means of its number was considered of secondary importance15.One could also mention that according to Edward Hatton’s « A New View of London » in 1708 in London the houses of Prescot Street were numbered, though these numbers were not used in the following decades16.A chronology of house numbering could open with the numbering of the houses of Prague Jewry in 1727, when during a so called « conscription of the Jews » not only the houses, but every flat in the houses were numbered by floor14; just as good this chronology could start with the numbering of the houses of Paris suburbia between 1727 to 1728, carried out on the occasion of a census of houses.In this latter case, numbers were cut into the doorframes; these numbers were later used for the purpose of addressing, but the aim was not to identify the houses, but to count a certain number of houses not to be exceeded by new buildings.In the following part I want to examine the different systems of house numbering being used, bearing in mind that the early systems had problems with considering changes and keeping the numbers up-to-date.In the last years the history of house numbering was given attention by both academic scholars and practitioners.Compared to this, numbers would constitute discrete entities clearly distinguishable from each other.Once painted onto the wall and inseparably attached to the house as soon as the paint had dried a number would render walls permeable, permitting access to recruiting officers, tax collectors and the This great enterprise of numbering the houses is characteristic of the eighteenth century; without irony, it is possible to call the house number one of the most important innovations of the era of Enlightenment, a century that was virtually possessed by order and classification.There is also evidence that the buildings of the Augsburg « Fuggerei » – a building providing low rent flats for the poor – were numbered with Gothic numerals by 1519, a very early example of the technology but it is not clear if the numbers were used to identify the houses17.Who ever wants to step earlier in history to find beginnings and origins can mention the 68 houses situated on the Paris Pont Notre Dame.


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