Manhattan grid wraps up first 200 years of density, wayfinding...and leaving north facades in dark

The end of 2011 saw a few articles on the 200th anniversary of the Manhattan grid sneak under the wire.  From NYTimes writer Michael Kimmelman: "'The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011,' now at the Museum of the City of New York, celebrates the anniversary of what remains not just a landmark in urban history but in many ways the defining feature of the city.  The grid was big government in action, a commercially minded boon to private development and, almost despite itself, a creative template. "New York property values boomed thanks to the grid, which effectively created the real estate market.  Money and aesthetics aren’t antithetical, and the grid has proved itself oddly beautiful.  I’m referring not just to the sociability it promotes, which Jane Jacobs identified, or to the density it allows, which Rem Koolhaas celebrates.

"The grid also makes a complex place instantly navigable.  Manhattan invites long walks, because walkers can judge distances easily and always know where they are.  Tourists who come to Manhattan can easily grasp the layout and, as such, feel they immediately possess the city."  Full article here.

From Forbes writer Stephen Smith: "This WSJ blog post on the high cost of filming in Manhattan rare alleyways reminded me of these bits from Richard Pluntz’s A History of Housing in New York City: 'Even in 1811, the gridiron did not work well. For the small single-family row house which predominated at that time, the solar orientation of the gridiron was reversed from the ideal. Had the long dimension of each block faced east-west, both front and rear facades of each house would have received sunlight each day.'"  Full post here.

And as usual, Old Urbanist provided timely and thoughtful thoughts on the grid, as he did earlier in the year with a fascinating set of posts about the origins of the grid and what Manhattan might have been without it.  (Image credit: New York Historical Society)