With regards to the four quadrants of a town or city, which is correct?

The north side of town, or The North side of town?
He lives in the west side of town, or He lives in the West side of town?
They live in the south side, or They live in the South side?


A region of a city requires capitalization if the direction word is part of its name, so the West End of London, North and South Philadelphia, and East New York all take capitals because they are official names of neighborhoods. New York also has the East Side and the West Side, which are recognized formal names, but there might be another city where "the west side of town" may have a different, specific proper name.

The appropriate rules come from http://www.write.com/2014/05/14/capitalization-of-cardinal-and-intermediate-directions/:

Cardinal and Intermediate Directions

Cardinal directions are the four basic points on a compass—you remember— that primitive thing that used to help people find their way before the invention of GPS. The four cardinal directions are north, east, south and west. Intermediate directions, such as southwest, northeast and so on, make up the other compass points.

Cardinal and intermediate directions do not need capitalization when they are simply used to describe directions:

  • Writers will learn proper capitalization of directions when pigs fly north.
  • The disgruntled birds canceled their plans to fly south for the winter, fearing collisions with flying pigs.

Directional Variations

The same goes for directional terms ending in –ern and –ward. These words also require no capitalization when used merely to describe direction:

  • Munchkin farmers raised aerial pigs in western Kansas.
  • The old witch melted southward and disappeared, much to the delight of the elated munchkins.

Proper Nouns and Regions

When a directional term is part of a proper noun or used to describe an entire region, it requires capitalization:

  • Wake me up when the pigs reach the North Pole.
  • Winged swine filled the Southern sky that night.
  • No one on the West Coast eats bacon, but he’s from the South.
| improve this answer | |
  • Your remarks about the compass were not apposite. Today was a glorious summer's day, I was on a long walk with another of the old & retired, and we found our way across London from Hammersmith to Hampstead Heath using a compass and the position of the sun - this chap has been a pilot. He says that to pass your flying exams you have to be able to fly an aircraft to a destination using a compass. If you value your life you cannot rely on GPS. The rest of your post was impressive and noteworthy. – WS2 Jul 1 '15 at 20:29

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