Fighting ignorance since 1973 Its taking longer than we thought
Is Armitage two thousand north or twenty
Hunnerts or thousands? A little background: I was born in Chicago, as was my mom, her parents, their parents,
etc. So, I got into a discussion with some coworkers and said something
about Armitage being "twenty hundred north." At this the conversation came
to an abrupt halt. They maintained that the streets divisible by 1000 were
properly called "thousands" as in "Armitage is two thousand north." I think
this is ridiculous because no one calls Division "one thousand two hundred
north," so why would you call Oak "one thousand north"?
Dr. Pangloss, via the Straight Dope Chicago Message Board
You (meaning the general reader) think this is a stupid question. You think everybody says "twenty hundred," or "two thousand," or "two triple zero," or whatever you think they say. You think if they don't say that they must be some yutz who just got off the bus from Cedar Rapids. Well, I've got news for you, compadre. Half the town does it the opposite way (or anyway differently), and they're looking funny at you.
I know this because, realizing there were questions too sensitive for even me to pronounce on without backup, I consulted the sages. This consists of an e-mail list of grave and learned Chicagoans who have been around the block, so to speak. This revealed the rift in public opinion alluded to above. It also disclosed entirely new dimensions to the question that it's high time I brought to light. But best to tell the story as it unfolded. Some responses:
You get the drift. While I detected a slight tilt to hunnerts, there was no consensus on proper usage. You understand we're talking strictly about how to say numbers evenly divisible by 1,000. I'm confident all would agree only crazy people would say (for example) four thousand eight hundred.
It occurred to me, however, that I was hearing from people pretty close to the campfire. What about those on the perimeter, where the wild winds blow? We know little of how these folk live. Here's a good way to win twenty bucks in a bar: find somebody who thinks he really knows Chicago and bet him he can't name the hunnerts (meaning the Chicago streets at half-mile intervals) between Austin and Mannheim Road. Here's what you'll probably get:
Then: long pause, puzzled expression. Some will make stabs such as Cumberland and River Road (obviously Blue Line riders). West suburbanites may mention "the avenues" (1st, 9th, 17th, 25th), but these aren't in Chicago. Finally: "I don't know."
Here's the list:
That's it. Trick question, slap my face. The only part of Chicago running between East River Road and Mannheim is a sliver through the forest preserves along the line of Foster Avenue. But there's no road there, and thus no 92 hunnert. The closest to 96 hunnert is Otto, a little street at 9620 west. Mannheim jogs; for most of its length it's at 10400 but on the line of Foster is maybe 101 hunnert. There's no hunnert hunnert.
That raises another obvious question, but let's continue with our story. This came in from the sages:
Alarmed, I wired back:
Perhaps this is more complex than I realize.
Indeed. Hoping to clarify matters, Rogers Park e-mailed a cop he knew who lived south of 99th Street. The cop's reply:
Here was a new angle. I had Little Ed call up his in-laws in the south 'burbs and ask the following question: "If you were asked where Sibley Boulevard was, what would you say?"
OK, limited data set, but enough to support this hypothesis: far south siders may not drop hunnerts altogether, but they'll go to some trouble not to say hunnert twice. (Thousand, or perhaps we should say tao-zin, doesn't enter into the picture at all.) Also, we confirmed the cop's take on addresses. You'd never say, "I live at a hundred twenty five thirteen." You'd say, "I live at one twenty five thirteen."
Ed's mother-in-law called back a few minutes later to quote the motto from the local newspaper, the Southtown Star: "People Up North Just Don't Get It."
Ain't saying nothing. We just report the facts.
Follow STRAIGHT DOPE CHICAGO on twitter, assuming Little Ed remembers to send the feeds out, and if nothing else observe his fumblings with a technology that is obviously beyond him.
Send questions for Cecil Adams to email@example.com or post them on the Straight Dope Chicago Message Board.
Send comments about this website to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Advertise on the Straight Dope! Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.
Copyright 1996-2008 Sun-Times Media, LLC.