The Original Green: New York's Street Grid

The original layout of New York's street grid took advantage of the natural elements like light, wind and good soil to effectively encourage greenery in the city. Alec Applebaum says the city could do well to hearken back to the original plans.
April 18, 2011, 9am PDT | Tim Halbur
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Applebaum explains how the street grid takes advantage of the elements:

"The early 19th-century planners who created the grid knew how to make the most of these attributes. They laid out the grid so that the sun sets precisely in line with east-west streets several times a year. The short north-south blocks mean more streets lead to the rivers, allowing floodwaters to recede easily and drawing people to the waterfront. The plan guided raucous commerce along the route of an old canal and enticed future developers with the promise of sites on hills with enviable views north."

Later generations of city engineers and planners failed to capitalize on the effectiveness of these early plans, and actively fought against them, says Appelbaum.

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Published on Saturday, April 16, 2011 in The New York Times
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