Happy Birthday, Manhattan’s Grid Plan!


Oh, Manhattan’s grid plan! On this day 200 years ago, you were published by the city council as a means “to unite regularity and order with the public convenience and benefit and in particular to promote the health of the City.” You have become an icon, your right angles and blocks form the bustling honeycomb that makes up this beehive of a city. Sorry for bringing this up on your birthday, but we have a few questions for you. First, where the hell were you for Greenwich Village?

Have you ever tried to get around down there? It’s like an Escher sketch, but instead of faceless men walking up inverted staircases, there are Spanx-clad moms pushing $2,100 strollers. Sure, you only initially covered 14th Street to Washington Heights, but you’re needed elsewhere.

Second, why are your avenues so spread out? Do they really need to be 922 feet apart? There is nothing more frustrating than emerging from the subway and walking for six minutes down a street only to realize 8th Avenue is in the other direction. We’d take the crosstown bus, but c’mon. Don’t be silly.

Finally, you know you’re kinda boring, right? Convenient and sensible, yes, but about as exciting as a BYU orgy. New York is supposed to be spontaneous and dangerous. Wide-eyed tourists who just got in from LaGuardia can find their way around as well as any local. When someone’s trying to get to the M&Ms store in Times Square, they should wind up at a transsexual knife fight in Queens, not the actual M&Ms store in Times Square.

Ignoring all these gripes, you’re still the best. We’ll be sure to think about you tonight when we cross the street after only looking one way. Nothing can hurt us thanks to all your one-way streets. What a sport.


Runnin’ Scared

On Grid’s Birthday, Beautiful Manhattan Maps [WSJ]