Miami Mystery: Why don’t Hialeah’s street numbers make sense?

Miami Mysteries is an ongoing series, where we explore and answer your yearning questions about our Magic City. Got a mystery that needs solving? Comment below and we’re ON IT. 

This month we’re exploring Hialeah , powered by Lyft. What should we know about? Who should we talk to? Let us know in the comments below and check out our neighborhood guide.

It’s happened to all of us. You finally master the grid system of the mean Miami streets, and you’re cruising around confidently… then you get to Hialeah.

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You’re driving nicely along NW 54th Street and you cross over NW 37th Ave. and BOOM now it’s Hialeah Drive. WTF?

Welcome to Hialeah, bro.

It might seem like they threw caution to the wind and numbered their streets all willy nilly. But there’s method to the madness. In fact — it’s not madness at all.  Since we’re taking you all over Hialeah this month with our guide, we figured we should help you figure out how the heck to get around.

Most of  Miami-Dade County’s 34 municipalities are on the county’s grid, meaning even as you move from the city of Miami to the city of South Miami, the street numbers stay consistent — 67th Avenue stays 67th Avenue the whole way through.

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Flagler Street is the x-axis and and Miami Avenue is the y-axis, meaning they’re each kind of like street number 0. Streets run east-west and avenues run north-south. There are four quadrants (NE, SE, NW, SW) and the roads are named using those conventions.

But when you get to Hialeah, it’s all over. That’s because Hialeah’s grid came about before the county grid got that far, so they made their own rules… as Hialeah does. (It’s also different in Coral Gables, Miami Beach, and Homestead, for pretty much the same reason.)

When Hialeah was incorporated in 1925 by farmer James Bright and the great aviator Glenn Curtiss, there was only one street that connected what we now call Miami to Hialeah, according to Seth Bramson, a local historian and author of “The Curtiss-Bright Cities: Hialeah, Miami Springs & Opa Locka.” That was NW 54th Street on the Miami grid.

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The western border of Hialeah is Okeechobee Road, a long diagonal road that likely was designed to run the length of the Miami Canal. The eastern border is roughly NW 37th Ave. (on the Miami grid).

From Miami, NW 54th Street runs straight through to Hialeah. But once it hits NW 37th Avenue, where Hialeah roughly starts, it turns into Hialeah Drive. The x-axis of the Hialeah grid is Hialeah Drive and the y-axis is Palm Avenue.

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The widths between avenues are 1/8 of a mile in Hialeah, while the widths between avenues in Miami-Dade are 1/10 of a mile. So, every 8 avenues in Hialeah = 1 mile and every 10 avenues in Miami-Dade  = 1 mile. (It’s also likely why, when a countywide grid was established it couldn’t be completely absorbed into Hialeah because the lines didn’t exactly match up.)

Yea, I know. Confusing.

However, we have one hack that can help you out: Because 54th Street in Miami-Dade County = Hialeah Drive in Hialeah, this street starts the count, and can be thought of as 0. Because of this, you can usually just subtract 54 from the Miami-Dade Street to get its Hialeah equivalent. Example: 103 St. – 54 = 49 St.  (Warning: this will occasionally be off by one because the grid doesn’t exactly line up. There’s not really a hack for avenues, though. Just kinda have to know that one. Consider it a way to prove your cred.)

Names explainer

Ok last step: naming. The street names in Hialeah are usually like this:

[E or W, based on its relation to Palm Ave.] [NUMBER] [AVE. or STREET]

So: W 4th Ave in Hialeah means it’s four avenues west of Palm Ave. This road in Miami-Dade County lingo is NW 57th Ave. It also has a third name: Red Road. (Names like Red Road, are commemorative and are often assigned by the City or the County — they don’t have much rhyme or reason other than that person was important and the body that owns the road wanted to honor them.)

There is one teensy little triangle in the southeastern area of Hialeah that’s different. It’s south of Hialeah Drive and east of Palm Avenue and its has the prefix “SE.” Tucked into this is an enclave built by the city’s founder James Bright where his home was once located, so it too does not follow a grid or a uniform naming pattern.

So there it is: The master guide to navigating Hialeah. Put away your Google Maps, pull out our Hialeah guide, and go ‘splorin already.