Monday, March 21, 2011

The New York street system

The New York Times reports today that the New York street grid system is 200 years old this year. And, it truly is a significant birthday.

In 1811, when New York had about 60,000 residents, the city fathers ordered an ambitious street plan which would accommodate population growth. The solution was a grid, laid on top of the island of Manhattan, which is now the street system of avenues running north and south and streets running east and west.

Several changes and improvements occurred in the years after including in 1853 when Central Park was laid out in response to demand from wealthy merchants. About 1,600 German gardeners and Irish pig farmers were displaced, as well as a small African-American settlement at what is now 82nd Street and Eighth Avenue.

There are anomalies in the system, such as the area of Greenwich Village, which was already developed in 1811. But, overall, the foresight of these developers in 1811 is in place for the eight million daily inhabitants of the island of Manhattan.

(Source: New York Times)

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