The Manhattan Street Grid Plan: Misconceptions and Corrections (a blog series)
By Gerard Koeppel with Jason M. Barr
It could be said that Aaron Burr, the baddest boy of early American democracy, is responsible for the famous Manhattan street grid. In a backhanded way — a way he surely would appreciate — he is.
But, like a perverse Madame de Pompadour, the deluge of orderly streets came after him, entirely without his input while he was laying low in Europe.
This is the history I tried to capture in Hell’s Kitchen and the Battle for Urban Space. It was, admittedly, a task that exceeded my talents, but I have tried to bring it to life in its various locations: the tenement rooftop, the hold of the cargo ship, the sidewalk, the ash heap, the dead horse, the spaces of daily living where real people form real relationships, where shifting loyalties, new solidarities, old divides, and modes of resistance and acquiescence form the daily stuff of historical change.
Click below to read an excerpt from “Hell, Death, and Urban Politics,” Chapter Six of Hell’s Kitchen and the Battle for Urban Space (Monthly Review Press, 2013)
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