Immediately, the plan was criticized for its monotony and, in particular, the 90 degree angles of the street intersections – which were designed in an economical fashion as right-angled houses were the most affordable to build. While cities such as Washington DC had grand diagonal cross streets, Manhattan’s plan divided the island into repetitious compressed parcels with no attention paid to changing topography or location. However, opinions of the system seem to be changing, as, over the course of decades, the grid’s logistical framework has proven beneficial and has allowed a magnificent modern city to rise.
More after the break.
“The grid was the great leveler. By shifting millions of cubic yards of earth and rock, it carved out modest but equal flat lots (mostly 25 by 100 feet) available for purchase. And if it fostered what de Tocqueville viewed as relentless monotony, its coordinates also enabled drivers and pedestrians to figure out where they stood, physically and metaphorically,” explained Sam Roberts for the NYT.
Take it or leave it, the Manhattan grid has become an iconic favorite of urban planners as the system distributes traffic in an efficient manner and as urbanist Andrés Duany explains, “…and true urbanists understand how efficiently it accommodates so many people, without sprawl.”