100 years grids of avenues and streets!

Manhattan Travel Blog

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The map by the commissioners 1811

Today a very typical characteristic of Manhattan celebrates its 100th birthday! It is antique, yet it is still working like ever. The grid plan of the streets and Avenues! I mentioned it several times in my avenue hike weblogs. The grid plan, better known as the Commisioners' Plan 1811, was a design for the lands north of 14th Street up to almost the most northern tip of the island. It was developed from 1807 to 1811 by an appointed commission of three persons: Gouverneur Morris, John Rutherfurd, and Simeon De Witt.

 In March 2011 they delivered their plan of a grid of 16 numbered and lettered north-south running avenues and 155 streets perpendicular to the avenues. The numbered avenues would start in the east with 1st Avenue and end in the west with 12th Avenue.

Google maps 2011
In the lower east side 4 more Avenues would be built Avenues A through D. The reason for the grid was not the easy navigation people applaud the grid for nowadays, but being able to build (cheaper) straight houses and provide better ventilation through the city to prevent diseases.

The Avenues near the rivers would be closer to each other than the avenues in the middle of the island. This because the waterfront was considered to be more valuable than the center. (That is why Madison and Lexington Avenues were later added, when things turned out to be different.) The Avenues were all 30 meters (100 ft) wide, streets had a width of 18 meters (60 ft) except for: 4th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, 72nd, 79th, 86th, 96th, 106th, 116th, 125th, 135th, 145th, and 155th Street, which were avenue-sized (30 meters).

The only irregularity in the consistent grid was Bloomingdale Road.

Both maps
And old south to north road founded as a trail by the native Indians, later developed by the Dutch. Bloomingdale ran diagonally over the island and was kept. It is still here and now much better known as "Broadway".

The New York Times celebrated the centennial of the commisioners' plan with a nice special, and a very nice interactive presentation on their website. Please make sure you vist it here! It displays the original maps by the commissioners imposed on a current Google maps map. The slider on the left allows you to show the current situation. Note that Central Park was not planned here. See also that the shoreline of Manhattan has been straightened out. And make sure you look at the most northern tip of the island to see why Marble Hill, which lies in The Bronx but belongs to Manhattan, belongs to Manhattan.

I made a few screen dumps for this log of my own area. It looks like I live on top of an old diagonal road in the Rijnlander area. Not bad for someone who lived close to the Rijn River...

 

 

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The map by the commissioners 1811
The map by the commissioners 1811
Google maps 2011
Google maps 2011
Both maps
Both maps
Manhattan
photo by: Fitnessguru729