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Via Garibaldi 8

Manhattan's "street grid"

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I've been thinking about this quite a bit... I know Manhattan has a street grid, but for some reason I feel like the distance of crosstown streets is not the same in some areas.  In other words if one is walking from the West Side in the 50s to say 5th Avenue it seems much longer than walking from the East Side in the 50s.  Is that really the case? It feels like it takes forever to get to the West Side using the crosstown blocks, especially going from 5th to the West Side.

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The avenue are not evenly spaced, you can tell this by looking at any map, it's unclear why it was done like that... maybe because of Central Park?

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It's odd actually because I think of 5th Avenue as not only being the separator between East and West but also as like the avenue in the middle of Manhattan when in reality it's not "eastern".  The Western portion actually looks bigger on the map which I guess explains why the walk is so bloody longer between 5th & 6th and 6th & 7th Avenue.

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Downtown financial district (south of Houston street), Manhattan, it's like a maze, it makes no sense how it's laid out whatsoever. Which explains why the BMT and IRT layout of the tunnels downtown is also a mess with impossible sharp curves and such. Always wondered why the engineers made such a mess of the street grid in the city downtown....

Edited by realizm
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the blocks are longer on the west side, Lexington and Madison were added into the plan later on, originally it was 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, Park (4th Ave), 3, 2, 1.

 

Madison was added in the block between 5 Ave and Park Ave, and Lexington was added in the block between Park, and 3 Ave.



Downtown financial district (south of Houston street), Manhattan, it's like a maze, it makes no sense how it's laid out whatsoever. Which explains why the BMT and IRT layout of the tunnels downtown is also a mess with impossible sharp curves and such. Always wondered why the engineers made such a mess of the street grid in the city downtown....

 

The streets in Downtown Manhattan are much much older, than the streets uptown which was part of a specific plan in the 1800s

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The streets in Downtown Manhattan are much much older, than the streets uptown which was part of a specific plan in the 1800s

 

Makes sense. Back in the days everyone was moving around by horse carriage etc, and never anticipated automobile traffic until the early 20th century. (Even as inventors was trying to develop steam powered automobiles since the late 1700's, actually starting in China then Europe later on). I was wondering about that too as I made the initial post about the odd setup on the street grids but I started to think it was for a different reason. Good point. 

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Its hard to imagine today but back then the city was concentrated in lower manhattan, and the buildings were no more than 5-6 stories, owing to the limited building technology of the 1700s. North of that area in Manhattan there were farms and small houses, which is why they needed a grid, to make it easier to divide up the land. 

 

http://myinwood.net/the-last-working-farm/ one of the last farms in manhattan, which disappeared in the 20s

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I've learned (bit off topic I know) that there were still farms in Queens before the Queens Bvld Line (And the road itself) was built (Was it Woodhaven?) that dissapeared during that same time too.



Looking at the link now. Wow. Farms in Manhattan? No kidding....

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the blocks are longer on the west side, Lexington and Madison were added into the plan later on, originally it was 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, Park (4th Ave), 3, 2, 1.

 

Madison was added in the block between 5 Ave and Park Ave, and Lexington was added in the block between Park, and 3 Ave.

 

 

 

The streets in Downtown Manhattan are much much older, than the streets uptown which was part of a specific plan in the 1800s

 

 

Downtown financial district (south of Houston street), Manhattan, it's like a maze, it makes no sense how it's laid out whatsoever. Which explains why the BMT and IRT layout of the tunnels downtown is also a mess with impossible sharp curves and such. Always wondered why the engineers made such a mess of the street grid in the city downtown....

I agree.... When I was younger, I hated having to go Downtown... The streets are cramped, everyone is smoking all over the damn place and it's just dark and depressing for the most part.  Midtown has its crappy areas as well, but the streets are a bit cleaner in some spots, more room to walk and more natural light.

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I agree.... When I was younger, I hated having to go Downtown... The streets are cramped, everyone is smoking all over the damn place and it's just dark and depressing for the most part.  Midtown has its crappy areas as well, but the streets are a bit cleaner in some spots, more room to walk and more natural light.

 

Much unlike the Bronx in some areas where I have to constantly look at the sidewalk so I don't trip over garbage and step on dogsh.... You get the idea.

 

I'm thinking of moving actually but that's another story. To RIVERDALE. (just kidding)

 

Let me add the hills are a killer up here.....

 

Edit: Damn VG8 you type fast!

Edited by realizm

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Much unlike the Bronx in some areas where I have to constantly look at the sidewalk so I don't trip over garbage and step on dogsh.... You get the idea.

 

 

I'm thinking of moving actually but that's another story. To RIVERDALE. (just kidding)

 

 

Let me add the hills are a killer up here.....

LMAO... Well I was walking around today here in Riverdale since I needed an express bus MetroCard and as usual I planned my way as to how to meander around the hills, but yeah there's no street grid up here which makes getting around interesting and it's much cleaner here as well and not congested which I like a lot.  The Downtown area has sweepers each morning so it stays relatively clean for the commercial area.

 

I really wish they would've made lower Manhattan more open but I guess geography comes into play since it became narrower down there, but I'm wondering why they added Madison, Park and Lex into the mix.  Beautiful, expensive streets overall but what's interesting is they all have their own vibe there in Midtown. When I'm on the West Side I feel the same more or less though clearly 6th Av has a different vibe in comparison to say 8th Ave.

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 When I'm on the West Side I feel the same more or less though clearly 6th Av has a different vibe in comparison to say 8th Ave.

 

Yeah too much rowdiness on 8th ave (Strange people by Port Authority Terminal, too many sex shops etc, it also seems dirtier) 6th Ave on the other hand houses the major corporation buildings, then there's Herald Square, 34th Street shopping district etc, yep totally different vibe. Sheesh even the 6th Ave line looks cleaner go figure!

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Downtown financial district (south of Houston street), Manhattan, it's like a maze, it makes no sense how it's laid out whatsoever. Which explains why the BMT and IRT layout of the tunnels downtown is also a mess with impossible sharp curves and such. Always wondered why the engineers made such a mess of the street grid in the city downtown....

Oh, big time! It is likely due to the lack of space on the southern tip of the island and the various building complex's in said area. Ground zero sure did not help things either.

Edited by jgood6195

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I favor the grid system. I never liked Broadway cutting thru Manhattan the way it did and was happy they cut it up at 23rd, 34th, 45-46th. Now those avenues runs up/down unobstructed as they should've been.

Now what I don't get is why Houston and everything south starts shifting over towards the southeast. On a related note, I would've had 1st and 2nd st cut thru East Houston so it can end on the eastern most part of Manhattan.

Another issue is why does Madison av end at 23rd and start again at 17th st? Why not cut strait down instead of putting all the nb traffic on Park av?

 

While on the subject of the grids: what's up with the part of Brooklyn b/w Gerritsen av and Flatbush? It totally severs the grid system east of Mcdonald av as if you were to omit that area, the avenues would more or less continue as normal past Flatbush? there's also a school that sits at the corner of Flatbush and Flatlands that if it were demolished (and relocated) you could connect Av M instead of having to go onto Flatlands to continue west.

Lol, and Kings Highway, someone must've been on drugs when they created it. It's a messed up zig zag road full of sharp turns and lack of structure. They would've been better off just having it cut strait thru the borough the way Flatbush and Flatlands does.

Edited by Grand Concourse
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I favor the grid system. I never liked Broadway cutting thru Manhattan the way it did and was happy they cut it up at 23rd, 34th, 45-46th. Now those avenues runs up/down unobstructed as they should've been.

Now what I don't get is why Houston and everything south starts shifting over towards the southeast. On a related note, I would've had 1st and 2nd st cut thru East Houston so it can end on the eastern most part of Manhattan.

Another issue is why does Madison av end at 23rd and start again at 17th st? Why not cut strait down instead of putting all the nb traffic on Park av?

 

While on the subject of the grids: what's up with the part of Brooklyn b/w Gerritsen av and Flatbush? It totally severs the grid system east of Mcdonald av as if you were to omit that area, the avenues would more or less continue as normal past Flatbush? there's also a school that sits at the corner of Flatbush and Flatlands that if it were demolished (and relocated) you could connect Av M instead of having to go onto Flatlands to continue west.

Lol, and Kings Highway, someone must've been on drugs when they created it. It's a messed up zig zag road full of sharp turns and lack of structure. They would've been better off just having it cut strait thru the borough the way Flatbush and Flatlands does.

So do I.

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I favor the grid system. I never liked Broadway cutting thru Manhattan the way it did and was happy they cut it up at 23rd, 34th, 45-46th. Now those avenues runs up/down unobstructed as they should've been.

Now what I don't get is why Houston and everything south starts shifting over towards the southeast. On a related note, I would've had 1st and 2nd st cut thru East Houston so it can end on the eastern most part of Manhattan.

Another issue is why does Madison av end at 23rd and start again at 17th st? Why not cut strait down instead of putting all the nb traffic on Park av?

 

While on the subject of the grids: what's up with the part of Brooklyn b/w Gerritsen av and Flatbush? It totally severs the grid system east of Mcdonald av as if you were to omit that area, the avenues would more or less continue as normal past Flatbush? there's also a school that sits at the corner of Flatbush and Flatlands that if it were demolished (and relocated) you could connect Av M instead of having to go onto Flatlands to continue west.

Lol, and Kings Highway, someone must've been on drugs when they created it. It's a messed up zig zag road full of sharp turns and lack of structure. They would've been better off just having it cut strait thru the borough the way Flatbush and Flatlands does.

When does Madison Ave restart at 17th street???  :huh: 

 

As for Gerritsen Beach, it wasn't always a community.  There are other neighborhoods that were get away areas, including Riverdale and Coney Island as they were secluded and play spots for the wealthy in most cases, so their layout wasn't the same for a few reasons.  With Gerritsen Beach some of that is landfill which explains why the area floods so easily.  The seclusion of these neighborhoods explains why their layout varies so much. Riverdale doesn't have a street grid while just about all of the Bronx does and this was done on purpose, as the area was designed to be built into the topography of the land to maintain its natural beauty.  Once the Henry Hudson Bridge was built the area became more developed.  With Gerritsen Beach there's the old part and the new section so part of it was added later on.

 

I believe other areas like Starrett City and Co-Op City are also built on landfill and that's why Co-Op city has problems with the complexes there sinking and cracks in the foundation, which they're supposedly addressing.

 

Part of Downtown is also built on landfill by the WTC and that may also explain the maze down there as opposed to Midtown.

 

Come to think of it, most of the beach communities here in the city were get aways or seasonal places that folks would come to.  Bay Ridge comes to mind prior to the subway being extended down there and Dyker Heights was another area that had influence from the wealthy, hence some of the very nice homes there.

Edited by Via Garibaldi 8
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Madison/University place, then. It's under a different name, but it's still the same imo. Just like how 1st av is allen st and 2nd av is Christie st....

Edited by Grand Concourse

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Madison/University place, then. It's under a different name, but it's still the same imo. Just like how 1st av is allen st and 2nd av is Christie st....

It is strange... Not sure why that is, but then again that isn't Midtown so the futher south you go the more of a maze Manhattan becomes.

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Well the geography of Manhattan sure is interesting to say the least. Lower Manhattan could have been planned better, but whatever. I have to admit if done right, stepping away from the grid can be interesting. It seems to work well in more isolated and suburban areas(ex. The North Bronx), while it's a giant clusterf**k in in more populated and urban areas (ex. Eastern Queens).

 

Just adding to the discussion, generally in Manhattan, most blocks North of 14th street are 1/5 by 1/20 of a mile long, but I'm sure most of you knew that.

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Part of Downtown is also built on landfill by the WTC and that may also explain the maze down there as opposed to Midtown.

 

Actually, I think the part that was built on landfill is relatively simple and grid-like.  (Compared to the areas further east by Wall Street, etc)

 

TBH, I think part of it might've been bad planning. Back in the 1700s, most of the city's population lived in Lower Manhattan. Then they slowly expanded northward, and then realized "We can't keep going up like this with zig-zag streets and everything, because the population's going to keep on growing and we'll have a mess", so around 14th Street, they put up a grid system. This is just speculation, but I don't think there was any logic behind having the streets all tangled up like that in Lower Manhattan.

 

While on the subject of the grids: what's up with the part of Brooklyn b/w Gerritsen av and Flatbush? It totally severs the grid system east of Mcdonald av as if you were to omit that area, the avenues would more or less continue as normal past Flatbush? there's also a school that sits at the corner of Flatbush and Flatlands that if it were demolished (and relocated) you could connect Av M instead of having to go onto Flatlands to continue west.

Lol, and Kings Highway, someone must've been on drugs when they created it. It's a messed up zig zag road full of sharp turns and lack of structure. They would've been better off just having it cut strait thru the borough the way Flatbush and Flatlands does.

 

Brooklyn used to be composed of different towns, so each town developed their own grid (There were 6 different towns before it became a city, five Dutch & one English) You notice that Flatbush Avenue is parallel to Rockaway Parkway, so I think they intended for the whole Town of Flatlands to follow that pattern. But then for some reason, they decided to run Utica, Ralph, etc in a different direction (maybe Canarsie was developed, and Marine Park was developed, but Flatlands was developed later, so they used a different grid).

 

As for Gerritsen Beach itself, well, there would be no other way to access Gerritsen Beach if the road didn't run diagonally like that. (Then again, if it was built on landfill, they could've designed it a different way, but then it goes back to the different towns). On that map, it looks like it's clearly in the Town of Gravesend, but maybe for some reason, they wanted it to follow the pattern of Town of Flatlands.

 

And then of course, west of McDonald Avenue, the grid changes again, because that's the Town of New Utrecht (You notice that 86th Street is actually parallel to Flatbush Avenue, but 86th is generally considered to run east-west, while Flatbush is considered to run north-south).

 

I mean, there are some areas that follow the grid of one town when they're in another. I don't know if it had to do with the development patterns or what (the ones that go against their town's grid might've been developed later), but the simple answer for the different grids is that they were part of different towns.

Edited by checkmatechamp13
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I can live with the divide along McDonald, but I always found it so strange the way Marine Park seems so isolated and just cuts up the structure. This also leads to strange mergings on Fb like MP's Quentin rd enters into 45th st and Av R enters into a curved av O before being stopped because of FB depot built over the road (causing a need to detour onto fillmore which would've been Av P). Finally, what should've been av Q below Fillmore (where Utica is) it becomes the continuation of Av S, which merges into av T by 55th st. It's just maddening how bizarre it all is.

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Battery Park City was completely built on landfill dug up from World Trade Center during its construction

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I agree.... When I was younger, I hated having to go Downtown... The streets are cramped, everyone is smoking all over the damn place and it's just dark and depressing for the most part.  Midtown has its crappy areas as well, but the streets are a bit cleaner in some spots, more room to walk and more natural light.

 

Lol, total opposite for me. I avoid Midtown like the plague, place is just this homogenized maze of tourists where the only locals are stuffy rich people. Midtown, by the way, is the total winner for dark and depressing, it's all shadows. Places like the LES, the Village, Harlem, etc. get way more natural light. I spend pretty much all of my days either below 14th St. or above 96th St.; nowhere near as much character anywhere else in the borough. 

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Midtown doesn't bother me. I actually enjoyed my walk down Broadway just taking the sights and stuff. I'm not bothered about the shadows and stuff. It's a small price to pay for order. I can't stand the confusing maze of SI, Queens and the Bronx.

Edited by Grand Concourse

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