House numbering is the system of giving a unique number to each building in a street or area, with the intention of making it easier to locate a particular building. The house number is often part of a postal address. The term describes the number of any building (residential or not) or vacant lot with a mailbox.
House numbering schemes vary by place, and in many cases even within cities. In some areas of the world, including many remote areas, houses are not numbered but named.
In the 18th century the first street numbering schemes were applied across Europe, to aid in administrative tasks and the provision of services such as the post. The New View of London reported in 1708 that “at Prescott Street, Goodman’s Fields, instead of signs, the houses are distinguished by numbers”. Parts of the Parisian suburbs were numbered in the 1720s; the houses in the Jewish quarter in the city of Prague in the Austrian Empire were numbered in the same decade to aid the authorities in the conscription of the Jews.
Street numbering took off in the mid 18th century, especially in Prussia, where authorities were ordered to “fix numbers on the houses…in little villages on the day before the troops march in”. In the 1750s and 60s, street numbering on a large scale was applied in Madrid, London, Paris and Vienna, as well as many other cities across Europe. On 1 March 1768, King Louis XV of France decreed that all French houses outside of Paris affix house numbers, primarily for tracking troops quartered in civilian homes.
Spotted this one in one of my walks around the ‘hood. Ours is quite boring!