An acre is a common unit of measurement dating back to the 1300s. The acre was the name given to the amount of land that could be tilled by oxen pulling a plow in one day.
Of course, this measurement could change daily depending on productivity and the overall health of the oxen used. Thankfully, over the years we have specified the exact length of an acre for easier calculation.
The Anglo-Saxons defined the acre as a strip of land equaling 40 x 4 rods, which we now know equals 660 x 66 feet. Over time that has changed.
Table of Contents
The Size of an Acre
But why is it relevant today? An acre is still a commonly used unit of measurement when purchasing land. So, if you’re looking to buy a new home and they mention that it’s on 3 acres of land, here is what that means.
One acre is equal to 43,560 square feet, 4046.86 square meters or 4840 square yards. A square acre would measure 208.7103 feet on each side.
If you’re having trouble gauging the size of an acre based off of those numbers, you’re not alone.
Types of Acres
Currently in the US, there are two accepted types of acres. The more commonly known acre is called a residential acre.
This is the acre we have discussed which measures 43,560 square feet. But real estate agencies have created the commercial acre which is 36,000 square feet. This was intended to be used in cities with larger populations to account for sidewalks and roads, and it is easier to measure usable land.
Though it isn’t currently used in every state, the commercial acre is still widely used. So, if you’re looking to buy a home make sure that you know which type of acre they are referring to.
Survey Uses of Acre
According to the US Public Land Survey System, a township is made up of 36 individual sections. Each section is one square mile or 640 acres. So, an average township in the US according to the Public Land Survey should consist of about 23,040 acres of land. Sections can also be divided into subdivisions if needed.
For example a quarter of a section would be 160 acres of land. They can be divided again in quarter-quarters of a section. This is equivalent to 1/16th of a section or 40 acres.
Before the Public Land Survey System was put into place, there were already places using similar terminology. For example, in New England, they had areas labeled townships and sections long before we had the standard definition that we do now.
This means that a township laid out in colonial New England times is not the same as we know it today.
So who measures land? That’s the job of a land surveyor. They will measure map land for you. Whether you’re looking to buy a home, sell some land, find out how much land you actually own or do some sort of construction on your land a land surveyor would be a lot of help.
They are especially handy when building on your property because they can track where your property ends so you don’t accidentally install that fence on your neighbors property. But that’s not all they do.
They can also measure angles on your land. This is going to be extremely helpful if you plan on adding to your land like adding a shed for example.
Hiring a land surveyor can cost anywhere from $500-$1,000 depending on the elevation and type of land they are surveying.
Some interesting facts about acres
- In a one acre parking lot, you could fit about 150 average sized cars.
- Using an acre of land, you could produce up to 600 boxes of wine.
- The average farm size in the US is 435 acres, and farms take up about 914 Million acres of land in the US.
- There are 640 acres in one square mile, so a section is equal to one square mile.
- Approximately 100 acres of pizza are consumed in the US every day.
- One acre of wheat can produce enough bread for a family of 4 to eat for 10 years.
- Land is commonly sold per acre, and the land owner can also be taxed per acre as well.
- One acre of land can be used to grow 50,000 pounds of strawberries if grown properly and well cared for.
- Ever been to Central Park? It takes up 843 acres of land.
- In one acre, you could fit 18 average sized homes (2400 square foot homes).