Want To Know How Big An Acre Is ?

How big is an acre – a unit of area commonly used for measuring tracts of land? In our business, this is an important word as most properties are defined in some fraction or multiple of an acre. So what is it and where did it come from? And how big is it?

Let’s begin with a question . . .

Did you know that during the Middle Ages, an acre was defined as the amount of land plowable in one day by one man and an ox? Not very specific, especially if your ox or maybe even you were feeling a little slow that day. Thankfully, today the acre is more clearly defined.

Perhaps you’re considering purchasing a new property that is an acre of land or some multiple of an acre and you’re wondering how big it is? Ox and plow notwithstanding, let’s take a more in-depth look at the acre.

Starting with the facts…

An acre equates to the following:

  • 4046.86 square meters
  • 4840 square yards
  • 43,560 square feet
  • 0.404686 hectares
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There are 640 acres in a square mile (5280′ x 5280′), which is called a “section” of land. It is also important to realize that an acre can be measured in any two dimensional shape – from a rectangle to a circle or even a hexagon – so long as the total area of land is 43,560 square feet.

survey chain

Antique 66′ chain



The most common shape for an acre is 1 furlong by 1 chain, or 660 feet by 66 feet. (source: Infoplease)


If you’re struggling to get your head around just how big that area actually is, try visualizing 75% of a football field, or a football field minus the end zones and the last 10 yards.  An American football field, including end zones, commonly measures around 57,564 square feet or 1.32 acres.


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If that still doesn’t help, consider a parking lot containing 150 cars parked in a square, or 16 tennis courts in a 4×4 formation or how about 60% of a soccer pitch. In case you are wondering, FIFA states that the optimal size of a soccer pitch is between 69,000 and 86,000 square feet (source).

Hopefully you now have somewhat of a grasp of how big an acre is. It’s BIG. But often the property you may be considering is some multiple of an acre. Along that line of thinking, here are some interesting facts for you to consider:

How many acres?

  • A “city block” is between 2 to 5 acres depending on where you live. Most city blocks are 660 feet by 330 feet or 217,800 square feet which is exactly 5 acres, but each city varies with its age and topography.
  • An NBA basketball court is 94′ long and 50′ wide for a total of 4700 square feet, which is 0.11 acre or very similar in size to many residential lots in large cities.
  • According to the United States Census, the total area of New York City measures approximately 300,000 acres (468.9 square miles), although that figure includes water. Central Park is 843 acres.
  • The Amazon Rainforest measures approximately 1,359,079,598 acres. (2,123,561 square miles)
  • It has been estimated that the surface area of the moon measures approximately 9,383,748,198 acres (14,657,415 square miles). (source: Space Settlement Institute)
  • A “nanoacre” is a unit of real estate on a VLSI chip equal to 0.00627264 sq in. Nanoacres have costs in the same range as real acres in Silicon Valley.


Parts of this post were excerpted from thecalculatorsite.com, landsalesco.com & Wikipedia