City directories provide detailed information, regarding the street's names for a given city. Although, other information is included like name, phone number etc., a city directory will usually list the street's name first (in alphabetical order), followed by all other pertinent info. This should not be confused for a telephone directory, which states the business index in an alphabetical order first.
What's included in a city directory?
City directories usually cover a city by locality, like West End, North-side, East End, etc., After broken down by city name and locality, you'll find every street within the locality listed in alphabetical order. After the street's name listing, each address will be listed, followed by the resident or name of the business residing in that address, occupation and phone number. In addition, city directories will have the prefix of each phone number organised, then followed by address and name.
What is the benefit of a city directory? If you want to find a business (or person) within a certain area in the locality, a city directory would be useful. For example, let's say you live in the West End of Richmond, VA, and want to find a Presbyterian Church to attend without having to travel too far. You can consult your city directory to narrow down a list of all the churches in the area. As another example, let's say you recall the name of a minister you visited for Sunday service, but couldn't remember the church where he practised. The city directory would list the minister's name, by using the section dedicated to churches and similar organisations.
City directory is now an email directory
The phone list section of city directories can be useful if you remember the first part of a phone number and know the locality. If you needed to call your favourite pizza parlour on the South-side of town for example, and remembered only 555, the phone list section would provide the remaining numbers.
Using the Internet
In the current age of technology, city directories, local directories and even business directories are becoming obsolete on paper. Although, many people still prefer the printed versions of these directories, the majority of people use the Internet to research on addresses and phone numbers. Google has taken precedence in the field of search, however many other search engines are used such as Bing, Yahoo! and MSN.