Friday, February 15, 2013

How Manhattan Got Its Street Grid

Measure of Manhattan, John Randel, Jr
Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor
To accommodate a fast-growing New York City, John Randel, Jr., began to lay out the city’s streets in 1808—an impressive endeavor that holds lessons for today’s information infrastructure.

A few years ago, researchers began looking for the earliest evidence of Manhattan’s iconic grid plan, which places streets and avenues along mostly horizontal and vertical directions (in contrast to the spoke-and-wheel layouts of cities such as London or Paris). In particular, they were hunting long-lost surveying marks left by a complicated young man named John Randel, Jr., whose maps helped establish the shape of New York City. The following excerpt (link below) is adapted from the book, The Measure of Manhattan: The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel, Jr., Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor, by Marguerite Holloway (W. W. Norton, 2013). Copyright © Marguerite Holloway.

How Manhattan Got Its Street Grid [Excerpt]: Scientific American