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Street smart: A fun guide to Miami streets


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#1 Aessotariq

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 08:58 PM

Miami, to me, is one of the easiest cities to navigate, yet it can be overwhelming for some. I've always wanted to put together something like this, and finally I have enough photos to do it. This is a quick lesson in navigating Miami streets. Once you learn the system, you too may find that Miami is one of the simplest places to move around. Now, the traffic, that's another story.

PART I:
LEARNING THE GRID: SOME BASICS

Signage is ample, and there is a countywide numbered street grid that has been laid out logically and methodically.

Miami is laid out on a cartesian-style grid, divided into four quadrants (NW, NE, SW, SE), created by "x-axis" and "y-axis" roads.

Flagler Street is Miami's "x-axis", dividing north from south.

"Streets" are east-west roads, and all streets north of Flagler will carry a "N" designation, while all streets south of it will carry a "S" designation.
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Miami Avenue is the city's "y-axis", dividing east from west.

"Avenues" travel north and south, and all avenues west of Miami Avenue will carry a "W" designation, and by extension, those east of it will carry an "E" designation.
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Flagler Street and Miami Avenue intersect in downtown Miami, and this would be considered the "origin" of the grid.

Street signs and traffic signals are the primary responsibility of Miami-Dade County. The grid extends far beyond the city limits of Miami across the entire county, giving Miami-Dade County a fairly uniform street system. There are a couple of notable exceptions, will I will mention later. The genius of the system is the precision. Avenues are spaced exactly 1/10 of a mile apart, so that means that 10 avenues will equal one mile of distance traveled. Streets are 1/16 of a mile apart. A block ten avenues by 16 streets is equal to one square mile.

Major avenues in the NW/SW area end in either a 2 or a 7. They are numbered in succession: (N/S)W 2nd Ave, 7th, 12th, 17th, 22nd, 27th, 32nd, etc... as far as Krome Avenue (177th Avenue), located 17 miles west of the center of downtown Miami.

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"I SAW THE SIGN"

This is what a standard street sign looks like in Miami. It gives the quadrant, the street number, and the street type.

The standard template calls for the street number to be larger than the quadrant and the street type, as you can see below. This is also a standard traffic signal configuration for Miami. The traffic signal is mounted in a horizontal orientation on an aluminum mast-arm.
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WHAT'S YOUR NAME, WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER

While Miami does have numbered streets, historically there have been a lot of named streets. Many streets in Miami carry both a street name and a street number. Many of these are historic roads that had a name first, and planners kept the name even as they began aligning roads onto the grid countywide. For these "legacy" roads, many people use the name and the number interchangeably.

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"MAKE IT SO, NUMBER ONE!"

There are also many thoroughfares that are not on the grid at all. Biscayne Boulevard is one of them. Biscayne Blvd starts in downtown Miami near the present day Met1 site and it extends all the way to the Broward County line at NE 213th Street. Biscayne Blvd also carries the designation US Highway 1 (US 1). Miami-Dade County does something which I really admire, and that's this: their signage includes both the highway name and the route number:

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Why is this such a big deal? Because even though Biscayne Blvd is a long thoroughfare that extends from NE 213th St to SE 3rd St, US 1 extends much farther. In fact, when US 1 crosses the Miami River, it becomes a new road with a new name: Brickell Avenue.

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South of Brickell (SE 25th Road), US 1 doesn't have a name at all, so the signage reflects that.

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But that's just a transition, because eventually US 1 will gain another name: South Dixie Highway.

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So while the name of the thoroughfare can change, the sign lets you know that these are in fact the same highway.


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"SHOW ME THE WAY"

So far we have seen where a street may change but the route number remains consistent. Let's see another variation on this. As I said before, many historic roads that became part of the grid retained their historic names. Coral Way is a great example. The original stretch of Coral Way was a windy road from Brickell to a point somewhere in west Miami. It officially starts at the intersection of Brickell Avenue (US 1) and is called SE 13th Street.

When it intersects with Miami Avenue, which is neither east nor west, it becomes simply S. 13th Street.

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Then Coral Way begins to wind. It is no longer an east-west street and it becomes a north-south avenue. This is also a picture of what a street sign post looks like when there is a named and numbered street.

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Coral Way takes another turn and becomes an east-west street again.

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CORAL GABLES BREAKS THE GRID

At SW 37th Avenue (Douglas Road), the boundary between Miami and Coral Gables, Coral Way will temporarily lose its numeric identity. Coral Gables has named streets, and numbers only appear on the major county and state thoroughfares that cut through the city. In fact, in the appearance-conscience Coral Gables, you won't find street signs as easily as in the rest of Miami. Through downtown Coral Gables, Coral Way gets a new name: Miracle Mile.

These are how signs appear in downtown Coral Gables. They are next to impossible to read because they tend to blend in with their surroundings. The cross stret appears directly above it, in this case, Ponce de Leon Blvd:

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At SW 42nd Avenue (Le Jeune Road), Miracle Mile ends and Coral Way continues where it left off, as you can see on this sign (a road also forks off from it but that's not relevant to this discussion). This is an example of a state road that cuts through the city and Coral Gables' signage rules are overridden:

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Coral Way continues through a residential neighborhood. You won't find street sign posts in Coral Gables -- they are against city ordinance. Instead you will find these white stones on the ground with the street names stamped on them. The block numbers appear below. Sometimes they are really hard to read, especially at night. Here is a sample of what the little stones look like:

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At the Coral Gables city limit at SW 57th Ave, Coral Way rejoins the Miami-Dade street grid and becomes a new street: SW 24th Street.

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So, as you can see, while a street can curve and change numbers several times, it maintains its street name.

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IN MEMORY OF...

Miami also has a habit of assigning commemorative names to certain streets. Some of these are names designated by acts of the Florida Legislature, and others are adopted by city or county resolution, depending on who owns the street. Nobody actually uses these names to refer to the street. Again, they are just commemorative.

Florida installs these brown signs when the Legislature dedicates a segment of a state highway to someone:
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Miami-Dade County responds by actually putting the name of the commemoree on the street sign:
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This isn't just for state roads. Many city and county streets also get commemorative names. Here is a county-owned street in downtown Miami:
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The Florida Legislature has assigned several commemorative names along relatively short segments of Biscayne Blvd. in Miami, in succession. This is where it gets confusing for some people. Miami-Dade County will place the commemorative name on top, with the "regular name" and street number/route number.

This segment of Biscayne Blvd/US1 is dedicated to Jorge Más Canosa, former leader of the Cuban American National Foundation:
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This segment is in memory of former Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin:
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Other streets such as Coral Way, that have a name and a number...

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...with an honorary name:
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#2 Aessotariq

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 10:25 PM

PART II:
THE EXCEPTIONS

"HIYA, HIALEAH!"

I mentioned earlier that there a few exceptions to the Miami-Dade street grid. Coral Gables is one of them, and Hialeah is another. Hialeah's grid was laid out when it was a still distant town from Miami. Municipal boundaries have since blurred across the county. Hialeah's streets begin with "W" or "E", where Palm Avenue acts as the y-axis.

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Some streets have names as well.

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Some are commemorative, as shown here on Palm Avenue, which is the y-axis that divides east from west.

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Here's where it gets interesting. Hialeah kept its numbering system despite being surrounded by Miami-Dade County-numbered streets. It would be too complex to renumber the entire city, primarily because Hialeah's avenues are spaced differently than Miami's (they are 1/8 of a mile apart compared to Miami's 1/10 mile). On many major thoroughfares that run across the county and cut through Hialeah, the Miami street grid is overlain on top the Hialeah grid. Those will have both a Miami street number and a Hialeah number. When in Hialeah, on these major roadways, both numbers will be listed.


This street is NW 103rd Street, but on the Hialeah grid it's 49th Street. Here's 49th St, west of Palm Avenue.
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And here it is east of Palm Avenue. Notice that it's still NW 103rd Street. This is because Hialeah is in the northwest quadrant of the county. In fact, most municipalities lie only within one quadrant, two at most (North Miami and North Miami Beach) -- only the city of Miami can claim to have addresses in all four quadrants of Miami-Dade County.
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On the Palmetto Expressway, only the Miami-Dade number is shown at Hialeah exits, so you have to know both.
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Sometimes a street will have a Hialeah number, a Miami-Dade number, AND a name. This pic is a bit blurry, but this is Red Road, more commonly known as NW 57th Ave in Miami and W 4th Ave in Hialeah.


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And then some will have a commemorative name, a Hialeah number, and a Miami-Dade number:

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MIAMI BEACH

Miami Beach is simple. Across Miami Beach and across all the barrier islands to the Broward County line, east-west streets are numbered, and given the relatively few north-south avenues on this narrow island, they are named (such as Alton Rd, Meridian Ave, Washington Ave, Collins Ave, etc.). There are no quadrants used on the islands. The street numbers line up as closely as possible with the mainland. Notice the word "street" is spelled out in full, to fill the sign.


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Collins Avenue is also known as State Road A1A:
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A commemorative name:
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Sometimes there are no streets at certain intersections. These may be entrances to certain buildings. The block number is shown (on the mainland the quadrant number will be part of the sign too):
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HOMESTEAD

Finally, Homestead is the other minor exception to the Miami-Dade street grid. Like Hialeah, Homestead was laid out when it was far removed from Miami and surrounding development. Of course now, that is no longer the case. The old core of Homestead has its own grid system, and the old city is divided into quadrants just like Miami-Dade. However, Miami-Dade does overlay its grid into Homestead and double-signs the major streets, and newer areas that have been annexed into Homestead are numbered in the Miami-Dade system.

Here's a named street, with both a Miami-Dade and a Homestead street number. The Miami-Dade number is in the middle. Homestead is in the southwest quadrant of Miami-Dade County, and the Miami-Dade street number will always be prefixed with "SW" and the number will always be in the upper 200 to mid-300 street number range.
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Homestead's y-axis avenue is Krome Avenue, which is SW 177th Avenue on the Miami-Dade grid. The city's x-axis street is Palm Drive, or SW 344th Street.


Now that we've gone through the street layouts, our next look will be at the major arterials that criss-cross Miami-Dade County and where they are can be found.

Questions, comments, and suggestions are welcome. :)
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#3 Florida

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 12:15 AM

WOW! Very, very nice! You do great work Aessotariq. What a quality presentation.

#4 Urban_Legend

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 01:34 AM

Man, this is one of the most informative posts on all of UrbanPlanet! I used to be so confused with the streets in Miami. Thanks!

#5 Brickell

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 09:24 AM

Great thread Aesso.

A few things to add...

Beethovens 9th Symphony Road in the brickell area.

The Roads section of Miami. You can see one picture with 24th RD. It's a section of Miami that breaks the EW/NS orientation and tilts it abit. You get some great intersections here. The neighborhood is called The Roads in recognition.

Google map here: http://maps.google.c...,0.027316&hl=en

I'm also amazed by the number of options we have..
for instance, My adress looks something like this: 11892 SW 234 Circle Lane South

#6 Aessotariq

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 02:18 PM

The really long names are the funnest to read. Beethoven's 9th Symphony Street is SW 9th Street. The "Ludwig van Beethoven Promenade" runs below the Brickell Metrorail station.

I mentioned Streets and Avenues, but Brickell brought up two interesting pieces: Roads and compound designations.

PART III:
"THE NITTY-GRIDDY"


North/South roadway designations

As a rule, Avenues (AV) are the north-south roadways that are spaced every 1/10 mile. Sometimes you will find north-south roadways between those avenues. They will be designated Courts (CT), then Places (PL).

So theoretically you could have a 12th AV, 12th CT, 12th PL, then 13th Ave.

East/west roadway designations

Streets (ST) are east and west, spaced every 1/16 mile. Between streets you might find Terraces (TR, TER), then Lanes (LN). (example: 14th ST, 14th TER, 14th LN, 15th ST). On rare occasion, Drives (DR) are used.

Others notes, exceptions
Roads (RD), when numbered, are diagonal. In The Roads section of Miami they run northwest/southeast and are treated as Streets for numbering purposes. A named "Road" such as Le Jeune Road, Galloway Road, or Bird Road tells you nothing about the orientation of the road. Instead, pay attention to the number: NW/SW 42nd Ave, NW/SW 87th Ave, and SW 40th St, respectively.

In Hialeah, Places (PL) are found between Streets, and Terraces (TER) are found between Avenues. Avenues are spaced in 1/8-mile increments. In Coral Gables, Avenues run east-west and Streets run north-south.

Boulevards (BLVD), Trails (TRL), and named Drives (DR) and Ways (WAY) have no rule. The first two are always named, and usually they are seen co-signed with a street number or highway number (Coral Way/SW 24 ST, Tamiami Trail/SW 8 ST, Biscayne Blvd/US1), Kendall Drive/SW 88 ST). Occasionally you will see numbered Ways when you are traveling on a diagonal road and you reach an intersection that's perpendicular.

Compound Designations

Certain roads are labeled "Street Roads" (ST RD), Avenue Roads (AV RD), etc., and indicate that they run diagonally. Brickell's example of a Circle Lane (CIR LN) probably would indicate a U-shaped loop wedged between a Terrace and a Street, crossed by an Avenue. A loop road can be divided into North, South, East, and West segments.

#7 Toucano

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 05:17 PM

Great Job!

#8 KendallKid

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 06:26 PM

HAHA I LOVE THIS GUIDE! This should be printed and handed out to all the visitors who will becoming for the super bowls and god willing the 2024 olympics(j/k) No one can complain about peach/lee streets here! GREAT JOB!

#9 metropolis

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 02:41 AM

AWESOME!!!

#10 bobliocatt

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 04:53 PM

Wow cool thread. My hometown of Winter Haven, also has a cartesian-style grid, divided into four quadrants (NW, NE, SW, SE). Numbered streets (ex. 42nd St NW) run N-S and lettered streets run E-W (ex. Avenue A SE).

#11 prahaboheme

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 05:22 PM

Interesting thread. It's cool to see how different cities do street signs. In Orlando for instance, major intersections have street signs that light up at night:

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courtesy Tim3167

#12 95-Souf

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Posted 09 October 2005 - 06:26 PM

That is the best and most extensive and post I have seen on U.P.
You really did your homework.
Its funny, grew up in Miami, and for the longest when relatives visited they never had a problem with directions and trying to find places in Miami. As long as you know the system, you wont have a problem. And if you dont, just remember:The higher the street no#s, the furthest from Downtown vise versa......

#13 Aessotariq

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 01:27 AM

Thanks for all of the great feedback! It certainly justifies the time and effort it takes to put these things together. :)

Lakelander: one thing that I really admire about Winter Haven's grid is how it manages to work despite so many roads being cut off by lakes.

Prahaboheme: I am a huge sign fanatic. Miami may be transitioning to illuminated street signs soon -- there are several sprinkled throughout different parts of the county, part of a pilot program. I have a few pics that I'll post later on. We'll see if there's enough money for that... I'd much rather see the new Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) installed first, so that we can have more dynamic synchronization, and they're talking about total integration with Broward and Palm Beach counties.

#14 Aessotariq

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 01:33 AM

Here's an example of a street where the number changes a few times, and even the name eventually changes:

From east to west:

This is Ives Dairy Road, signed NE 203rd Street at this intersection. Also worth noting is the commemorative name: fallen police officers customarily get a segment of street named in their honor.
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West of I-95 Ives Dairy Road becomes 205th Street. Here's one of the new self-illuminated signs being slowly phased in:
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This intersection is at a point where the road curves. It loses its number at this point:
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New street number.
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West of this intersection is Honey Hill Drive, and Ives Dairy Road to the east. It still remains 199th Street.
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This intersection is near the entrance to Dolphins Stadium.
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#15 Topher1

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 03:54 AM

The most useful thing I ever learned about Miami roads is that CRAP (Courts, Roads, Avenue, Place) run north and south, and essentially every other designation is east west.

#16 Brickell

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 08:29 AM

I have yet to figure that one out. CRAP will come in handy... I like it.

#17 Urban_Legend

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 11:59 PM

The most useful thing I ever learned about Miami roads is that CRAP (Courts, Roads, Avenue, Place) run north and south, and essentially every other designation is east west.


:rofl:

#18 Urban Catalyst

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Posted 13 October 2005 - 11:54 PM

Hialeah was the first place I got lost when I started driving. The information I found here was useful today, I was able to navigate through Hialeah's and North Miami-Dade's Streets by subtracting 54 from Miami-Dade's Streets to convert to Hialeah Streets. Also, knowing the dimensions of city blocks helped me navigate by calculating distances. I sat on the passenger side with my calculator helping my friend find our destination.

#19 Aessotariq

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 10:55 AM

Cool. I am glad this was useful. :) The subtract-54 rule works because Hialeah's street grid starts on NW 54th Street. Ingenius how well it works.

Here's a list of the Miami-Dade avenues and streets that cut through Hialeah and their corresponding Hialeah numbers:

Hialeah / Miami-Dade / Name
  • Avenues
  • E 8 AV / NW 42 AV / Le Jeune Road
  • W 4 AV / NW 57 AV / Red Road
  • W 8 AV / NW 62 AV
  • W 12 Av / NW 67 AV
  • W 16 AV / NW 72 AV
  • W 20 AV / NW 77 AV (theoretical street, this is actually where the Palmetto Expressway lies, and there are occasional frontage roads marked W 20 AV, W 20 CT, or NW 77 CT)
  • W 28 AV / NW 87 AV

    Streets (W or E):
  • 84 ST / NW 138 ST / Graham Dairy Road (northern boundary of Hialeah)
  • 68 ST / NW 122 ST
  • 49 ST / NW 103 ST
  • 25 ST / NW 79 ST
  • 21 ST / NW 74 ST
  • 9 ST / NW 62 ST / Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
  • Hialeah Dr / NW 54 ST


#20 dave8721

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 02:22 PM

The only place I've ever gotten lost around here is Coral Gables in the Greenway Dr/Alhambra Cir area due to the complete lack of street signs (or the useless little white ones that you can only see once you have passed the intersection since they only face one way) and the winding roads.




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