clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

New App Ditches Numbers And Renames Every City Block With Zen-Like Phrases

Where in San Francisco will you find "Whacky Rather Amber"?

London-based startup What3Words has given the entire world 57 trillion new addresses, including several million in San Francisco.

And here we didn't get them anything.

Our time-honored tradition of navigating cities based on street addresses is outdated and ineffectual, 3Words CEO Chris Sheldrick tells Co.Design. All of us have had the experience of looking for an address and failing to find it. Rural areas have no addresses. And some countries have chronically incomplete, outdated, or contradictory street address records.

So the 3Words app divides the entire world into 10 foot by 10 foot squares and assigns each square a distinct, lyrical, randomly generated three word code. For example: "Piles, buddy, towers." That’s the the Golden Fire Hydrant on 20th Street. Or "Sport, test, chairs." That one is Cupid’s Span in Rincon Park.

Of course, landmarks like those are easy to find already. The real utility of What3Words is that it will help you find a specific spot with no identifiable marks of its own, or help others find that spot if you’re already there.

We’re honestly not sure if people are going to go for this, but we are sure that it’s a deeply strange brand of fun finding out which zen-like three-word namesakes have been sprinkled throughout the city.

And even though the words are randomly generated, we can’t help but feel that the app is trying to tell us something about these places. A few illustrative samples:

The Golden Gate Bridge:

  • Stream giving mile
  • Strong large encounter
  • Lately hurray tone
  • Decks means props

Lombard Street:

  • Regard slope bonus
  • Rarely easy icon
  • Anyway stops cars
  • Posed amused feel

2070 Bryant Street ("The Beast on Bryant"):

  • Fantastic drama basket
  • Fails model design
  • Loses owner path
  • Tricky crisis shuts

Apple Store, Union Square:

  • Ritual appeal translated
  • Bless riches packet
  • Coffee-swept empire
  • Desire tolls trap

Candlestick Park:

  • Games dream tribe
  • Rewarding entertainer mixer
  • Public pays spin
  • Slime guilty beast

Harvey Milk Plaza:

  • Major laws form
  • Moral civic coffee
  • Listed short bravo

Twitter HQ:

  • Pushed emerged doing
  • Acute digit format
  • Unrealistic format swept
  • Grows rental fits

SF Zoo Insect Room: