[The Manhattan Street Grid Plan: Misconceptions and Corrections] Myth#9: A System of Block and Lot Divisions
By Gergely Baics and Leah Meisterlin
The New York City grid is often understood as a foundational system of land subdivision and cadastral allotment. Accordingly, the grid divides Manhattan into a highly regularized system of rectangular shaped blocks, subdivided into lots, making standard (and stackable) units of real estate available for urban development. The grid accomplishes the city’s apportionment through its collection of more frequently spaced and narrower east-west cross-streets and less frequently spaced and wider north-south avenues — each serving as partition and demarcation between the blocks with their nested lots. Indeed, conceptualizing the grid as a system of subdivided blocks highlights its underlying cadastral logic. Previous posts (#4 and #6) have addressed two myths following from this line of reasoning, specifically the extent to which block sizes determined lot sizes, and how the relentless regularity of blocks and lots contributed to rampant real estate speculation.
No one viewed the threat of a forthcoming French attack with more trepidation than Governor John Jay. Throughout his tenure in office from 1795 to 1801, he called for a comprehensive defense to protect New York City and its adjoining waterscape.
Reviewed by Miriam Liebman
By Gerard Koeppel and Jason M. Barr
Today, the image of Manhattan is as a vertical city — a place that, as E. B. White saw it, “has been compelled to expand skyward because of the absence of any other direction in which to grow.” With our eyes focused skyward, we think little of the city’s horizontal expansion, as the grid plan seemingly set Manhattan in stone, literally and figuratively.
This is the final installment of the authors' series The Manhattan Street Grid: Misconceptions and Corrections.
Click above to read them all.
By Jason M. Barr and Gerard Koeppel
Today, Manhattan is synonymous with its Cartesian configuration. Unlike a standard mathematical graph, which starts at the intersection of zero and zero, Manhattan “begins” at First Street and First Avenue (the “nexus of the universe,” according to Seinfeld’s Kramer). From there, it’s a simple counting exercise north or west. The integer-based order creates the perception that Manhattan is a frozen lattice.
The Manhattan Street Grid Plan: Misconceptions and Corrections (a blog series)
By Jason M. Barr with Gerard Koeppel
In 1894, noted architect Ernest Flagg voiced a popular belief about Manhattan’s lot sizes: “The greatest evil which ever befell New York City was the division of the blocks into lots of 25 x 100 feet... for from this division has arisen the New York system of tenement-houses, the worse curse which ever afflicted any great community.”
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