Mar 02

Lost in Bogota – Understanding the (il)logistics of Bogota`s Roads

La Septima, Bogota
La Septima, Bogota

Bogota is a sprawling metropolis that almost 10 million people call home. To simplify things, the good people at the street naming council of Bogota decided that they’d implement a number system on the roads, instead of road names. The obvious intention is that it’s easier to find where you are.

Here is a map of central Bogota:

Bogota map
Bogota map

Now here’s a map of Manhattan New York:

See how straight that is?
See how straight that is?

See the difference? While Manhattan is actually a grid, Bogota is not. This means that the number system, while helpful in some areas of the city, actually falls flat. There are a number of streets where you’ll walk in a straight line and yet somehow change streets several times. Also, there are streets that just don’t seem to exist. For example, we have Calle 65 and Calle 67, but it’s almost impossible to find Calle 66.

The winding streets of Chapinero Alto
The curved streets of Chapinero Alto

Moreover, when streets run into a maze of ‘Diagonals’, ‘Transversals’, 135a, 135b, 135c, 135bis, then you know something about the system just ain’t working. In two addresses I`ve lived at here in Bogota, taxi drivers have regularly told me that my address didn’t exist. Mr. Taxi Driver, with all the respect in the world (as we say in Colombia), I live there.

While I have sympathy for those who prefer this flawed system to actual street names, it’s pretty hard not to get frustrated as you’re lost in a labyrinth of winding roads and numbers that seem to have to relevance to where you are, nor each other.

And when Bogota roads do have names? Well, Carrera 50 is called ‘Avenida 30’. The horror!

THE HORROR!

Paul

3 thoughts on “Lost in Bogota – Understanding the (il)logistics of Bogota`s Roads

  1. simon on

    Hi! i’m adopted from Bogotá and was wondering if you could possibly explain how to read an address located there. the adress is where my biological mother used (or is living) to live. in the few files i have with info on her, it is stated that her address at time of the adoption was Cra. 90A # 49-40 sur. can you please help me find it in google maps? 🙂 I may be waving in the dark here, but since i found this site I thought, what the ****! 🙂 thank you!

    Reply

      Chris on

      Hi Simon,

      Happy to help! The way street addresses work in Bogota can be confusing, but here goes: the house will be located on Carrera (the avenues that run from North to South in Bogota) 90a (because it’s the first number in the address), at the point where it crosses with Calle 49. The building number is 40. The ‘sur’ part suggests that the address is in the south part of the city – I would guess it’s located more or less at the point marked on this map: https://www.google.com.co/maps/place/LA+MARGARITA+2/@4.6357753,-74.1805634,18z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x2263329a18218edb!8m2!3d4.6354582!4d-74.1801998?hl=en

      Good luck and get in touch if you need any more help,

      Chris

      Reply

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