City maps with streets colored by orientation



“If you’ve ever existed in grids or swerves you know that London swings, New York’s a grid. Chicago swings. Bombay’s a grid, Delhi swings.”

It would be interesting to see the Los Angeles map superimposed with the dates in which communities were assimilated into the collective…
I notice that Burbank and Downey (which are still independent from LA) are off-grid.

So, straight streets are blue while homosexual streets are pink? Bi-sexual roads are yellow?







Hmm. This doesn’t really have enough granularity for London, suggesting greater regularity than is really there. It’s not always possible to say a single street has a predominant orientation, never mind apply meaningful predominant orientations to multiple streets.

Nice idea, though.

If you actually look at the London map, you’ll see that streets change color all the time. I don’t think there’s any one street that stays one color. The map simply shows the color of the road at specific points.

It looks pretty accurate to me.

There is still some regularity, even in London, though. If you’re on a street, at a particular point, and you go one block over to the “parallel” street, it will frequently be at a similar orientation. That’s why you get (small) blocks of color. (That’s another way of saying: There are buildings with 90º corners, even in London.)

Streets in Chicago are oriented along the underlying grid established by the United States Public Land Survey. The USPLS dates back to 1785 when the Second Continental Congress enacted the Land Ordinance of 1785. Illinois is one of 30 “public land” states that were settled after the enactment of the Land Ordinance.

California is also a public land state and vast areas of the state reflect the UPSLS grid in the orientation of agricultural fields, roads, and fencelines. Most streets in Los Angles are originated along the USPLS grid, but there are numerous interruptions at the boundaries of previously-surveyed areas, notably Spanish and Mexican land grants,

San Francisco’s streets were largely dictated by topography. In the City (and County) of San Francisco, street orientations reflect the mountainous topography of the underlying land. In the suburbs extending southeast through the Santa Clara Valley, streets reflect the orientations of two natural barriers: the mountains to the west and San Francisco Bay to the east.

The State of New York is not a public land state because it was settled before the Land Act of 1785 was enacted. Consequently, streets in New York City (and township boundaries throughout the rest of the state) reflect the random patterns of the settlements that grew up over the years.

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Thanks. Very interesting.
There it is:

Part of the lands under the jurisdiction of the San Gabriel Mission, established in 1771, was the Los Nietos Grant. Juan Nieto, an ex-solder, was granted provisional use, in 1784, of 300,000 acres of prime Southern California ranch land. In 1834, after the division among the Nieto heirs, a portion of this grant, between the banks of the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo Rivers, became the Rancho Santa Gertrudes. In 1873, a 96-acre parcel of Rancho Santa Gertrudes became the central district of a community called "Downey City".

LA-area grid changes are historical markers, but nothing as simple as when a community was annexed to LA.

Burbank, f’rex, has three grids - the yellow square that follows the boundaries of the Rancho Providencia land grant; the bluish grid that parallels the Southern Pacific tracks, which was part of the Rancho San Rafael grant, and the standard NS/EW grid to the north surrounding the airport, which was not part of any colonial grant, and was thus public land when California joined the US.

Most grid boundaries in the LA area are a reflection of property ownership - sometimes colonial land grants, other times later subdivision.

The original Pueblo of LA land grant has three distinct grids, none of them NS/EW - two plotted by E.O.C. Ord in the first American survey of the pueblo, and the later and larger ’ Donation Lots’ grid that divided plots of city land to be ‘donated’ to anyone who would improve them (since LA’s earliest American charter forbade the sale of Pueblo lands).

The ‘Donation Lots’ grid extends to (and, in places, a bit past) the original Pueblo boundaries. Outside of that, the American-era NS/EW grid becomes dominant.

In the Valley, when the Ex-Mission San Fernando grant was first subdivided, it was first split into northern and southern halves (along today’s Roscoe Blvd.), and then the northern half was further split among three owners - Charles Maclay, George Porter, and Ben Porter.

Maclay’s land is the bluish chunk in the upper right of the Valley, with a grid paralleling the SP railroad track. The Porter cousins’ land on the west used a NS/EW grid, as did the Lankershim townsite to the south.

Most of the Valley was annexed to LA in 1915, after the completion of the LA Aqueduct, since Aqueduct water could only be sold inside the city limits.


Now you start to get what we Geographers find fascinating. Really, it’s not just place names! There’s so much wrapped up in a place and its people over time.

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