How Big Is an Acre of Land? Visual Comparisons

When trying to buy land or assessing one’s own property, a prime question is how big the property actually is. Of course, you may know that it is 1, 10, or 100 acres, but how big, exactly, is an acre of land? Unlike units of distance and length, you may never be perfect at estimating and conceptualizing units of area, but if you take the time to really try and learn how to visualize it, it can really help you when dealing with land. As a forester, I became well acquainted with the unit and now can understand just how big an area is by only looking at a map. It’s a skill that can pay dividends when assessing a property or just enjoying the outdoors. We’ll give you some excellent reference points and different ways to visualize geospatial information so you know exactly how big an acre is. We’ll even explain how you can measure acres on your own.

Simple Conversions of an Acre

The simplest (although not always the most useful) way to visualize and conceptualize an acre of land is to look at common conversions of different units of area. Below is a table of other units of measurement and how they convert to acres.

UnitOne Acre Equals
Square Feet43560
Square Meters4046.86
Square Miles.002

The most useful of those measurements is square feet, and another way to think of 43560 square feet is to think of a square approximately 209′ x 209′, or about 70 yards x 70 yards.

An Acre of land is about 209' by 209'

Next time you are out in the field, try measuring out an area of one acre to give yourself that perspective. Take some ribbon or flags and mark out the corners and internalize what that looks like. Then you can try the same thing with 2 and 5 acres. If, on the other hand, you don’t want to do any measuring and just want some visual comparisons, keep reading.

The Base of The Empire State Building is Approximately 2 Acres.

How big is an acre? Well, the Empire State Building sits on 2 acres.

Have you ever been to New York City? The base of the Empire State Building is about 2 acres. Well, 1.84 acres to be exact. Especially when buying homes, people want a good yard attached. Is 2 acres enough space? Well, its enough space to build a sky scraper! But your biggest hurdle will probably be financing if that’s your goal, not the size of your yard.

The Great Pyramid of Giza Stands on 12 Acres

The great pyramid of Giza sits on 12 acres of land

Pharaoh, Pharaoh, let my acreage go! The great pyramid stands on about 12 acres of desert. The people in the photo above offer a pretty good size comparison of what that looks like if you haven’t had the privilege of seeing the pyramids yourself. Is 12 acres a lot? For a house lot, absolutely. For a farm or forest, its on the smaller end, to be sure, but it is certainly workable!

Baseball Is Played on About 3 Acres

Baseball is played on 3 acres of land.

Peanuts, anyone? While the exact dimensions of an MLB field can differ, baseball is played on fields of around 3 acres. The part of the diamond that holds the bases, however, is only about .4 acres. Now that we know how big of an acre is, the only question is how many acres away must you hit a baseball to get a homerun.

The Average American Home Sits on .2 Acres

A house sits on about .2 acres of land

There is no better way to fully visualize what an acre looks like than comparing it to the house you live in. While obviously there is a tremendous amount of variation, the average American home sits on about .2 acres of land. Not a very big parcel, unfortunately, but enough to live the American dream.

The Standard American Township Is 23,040 Acres

How big is 23,040 acres? The size of a township.

Alright, maybe this one isn’t too useful conceptually, but it’s a fun one. All the way back in 1785, the US government created Government Survey System that established the township as being a standard 6 miles by 6 miles, or about 23,040 acres. As with anything, there is a tremendous amount of variation, particularly in towns established long before the system was implemented. In Maine, for example, early settlements on the coast are all sort of shapes and sizes while the towns up north are all standard squares like in the map above.

How to Measure Acreage on Your Own

If you want to compare acreage to landmarks you are familiar with or wish to measure the acreage of a parcel of land, you can use Google Earth and use their land measurement tools.

  • Open Google Earth (Desktop Version)
  • Click “Add Polygon”
  • Delineate the area you wish to measure
  • Click the “Measurements” tab
  • Change area units to acres

Now have fun learning how to better judge acreage!

Zachary Lowry

Working as a professional forester in northern Maine, I quickly saw the opportunities within the forest industry for small-time investors and woodlot owners. I started The TImberland Investor to bring these insights and opportunities to you.

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