How Are House Numbers Assigned

How Are House Numbers Assigned-76
A house would remain a monolithic bloc barring tax and military authorities from systematic appropriation of the riches and resources held inside unless there was a central addressing system.Even so, houses were not at all unaddressable before house numbers were introduced.

A house would remain a monolithic bloc barring tax and military authorities from systematic appropriation of the riches and resources held inside unless there was a central addressing system.Even so, houses were not at all unaddressable before house numbers were introduced.The article deals with a technology of house identification that was characteristic of the classifying spirit of the eighteenth century: house numbering.

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This article is about a detail of history that has become so familiar in our everyday life that we do not even think it could have a history. But like so many things we take for granted, the house number had to be invented and implemented in our day-to-day life; a process that did not take a straight course, but went with many resistances and difficulties.

After a short introduction to recent works published on this topic, I will give an overview of the spreading of house numbering throughout Europe.

Beside my own work focussing on the introduction of house numbering in the Habsburg Monarchy1, Vincent Denis and Vincent Milliot – following the pioneering work of Jeanne Pronteau2 – were working on the history of house numbering3 in France; in the , the historical geographer Reuben S.

Rose-Redwood has dealt with the different systems, sharing with me – a foucauldian perspective4; in Switzerland, Marco Cicchini worked on the history of the police in Geneva mentioning the resistances against house numbering5 and Heike Blumreiter has published a book about the house numbers of the German city of Düsseldorf6.

Provision of numbers served the purpose of assigning a unique address to each house, thus ensuring that the state could get hold of the subjects living therein.

At a time when the modern state was taking shape, authorities were bothered with houses being cut off from the public world; their walls – so permeable for the lodgers11 – appeared an impenetrable barrier to the state’s pursuits of power.

Moreover, even if house names had been visible, and even if there had been a register of house names, a name-based addressing system would nonetheless have posed problems. an object targeted by state authorities might have been missed owing to the confusion of houses because of homonymy.

For example, at the end of the eighteenth century, there were six buildings downtown Vienna and other twenty three located in the suburbs named « » (At the Golden Eagle’s); thus, all together there were twenty nine houses that could be mixed up under a name-based addressing system12.

They were continuously numbered since the fifteenth century; in the sixteenth century they bore golden numerals on a red background.

Anyway Jeanne Pronteau, house numbers historian, denies that this kind of numbering can be regarded as a precursor of later house numbering, although the numbers were used for identification purposes by the administration.

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