This morning I was listening to the episode of the 99% Invisible podcast about addresses. The thesis of the episode is that while addresses are something we generally take for granted, they are actually a relatively new invention. I realized that I had lived in two places where conditions mentioned in the podcast existed.

First, I grew up in a house that didn’t have a street address. Our house was on a named street, and it even had a wooden street sign where it intersected the county road, but I don’t think the street names were official and in any case nobody used them. When we gave someone directions to our house, it was “when you’re coming down the county road, turn on the first street to the right past the water tower. Our house is the first one you come to, on your left.” Our mailing address was “Star Route 1 Box 205” and our mailbox was in a bank of mailboxes about a mile from the house.

Second, the podcast episode mentions how the Hapsburgs undertook an effort to number houses throughout their empire. When I was a high school exchange student in Austria in the 1980s, I lived in the village of Gro├čklein (that name is another story of its own), and the address of my host family was just “Gro├čklein 26” no street name necessary. That numbering most likely dates back to the Hapsburg numbering mentioned in the podcast.