Like the nationwide dream, it foreshadowed, the American grid promise was at once mythical and foundational: a utopian urban ideal that guided the construction of cities and towns across America – and arguably the world – shaping millions of lives, identities, and minds.
The “grid”—that latticework that divides America’s fields, forests, and towns into perfect square-mile sections—was Thomas Jefferson’s brainchild for apportioning Western territories acquired after the Revolutionary War.
Whilst the grid is not a panacea for all city planning problems, it is a tried-and-true physical foundation upon which a city may grow. As a case in point, the grid has allowed some of America’s most vibrant cities and beautiful towns to materialize including Pasadena, Oak Park, and New York.
Besides its simple structure, grids have numerous outcomes, depending on scale and geometry. The following 20 diagrams represent 20 great American grids, at 100 meters approximately, for a quick comparison.