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why did we subtract one from the number of streets and avenues as we calculated the number of blocks?

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Because if you consider the perimeter streets then the blocks inside are (# streets-1). It is the same if you draw a square with 4 vertical lines and 3 horizontal lines; the sectors in the square are 3*2 (# vertical lines - 1)*(#horizontal lines -1)

Because if you consider the perimeter streets then the blocks inside are (# streets-1). It is the same if you draw a square with 4 vertical lines and 3 horizontal lines; the sectors in the square are 3*2 (# vertical lines - 1)*(#horizontal lines -1)