to a side



this is from a yet unpublished book:

"Sliding toward us were the sulfur pyramids of Syncrude, their full dimensions even more impressive from the air, a footprint five city blocks to a side." What does this mean exactly? How big are these "pyramids"?

Thanks in advance!
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    The base of the pyramid is square: five city blocks long on each of the four sides.

    How big is that? Who knows? :) From Wikipedia:

    Since the spacing of streets in grid plans varies so widely among cities, or even within cities, it is difficult to generalize about the size of a city block. However, as reference points,the standard square blocks of Portland, Houston and Sacramento are 260 by 260 feet (79 × 79 m), 330 by 330 feet (100 × 100 m) and 410 by 410 feet (120 × 120 m) respectively (to the street center line).

    Use of block as a unit of distance
    In North American English the term block is used as an informal unit of distance; for example, when giving directions (e.g. "It's three blocks from here.").

    In British English the term is scarcely used to convey a measure of distance due to the lack of 'blocks' in most cities; it is, however, used when making short trips around a nearby road of an estate. (e.g. "I'm taking the dog out for a walk around the block")

    Source: City block


    Okay, thank you very much, Copyright! The important thing to me was that "to a side" means "on each of the four sides"...:)
    < Previous | Next >