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Old 01-04-2015, 01:11 PM
 
Location: Over The Hills And Far Away
117 posts, read 108,259 times
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I guess this is a question for all you cartography experts...

Did you ever notice that every city, no matter what state, when you look at it on a map, the original old part of the city or it's downtown area was built on an angle? Go ahead and look. You'll notice that the majority of the town's streets all run perfectly East/West, North/South, except there is an area to the town that is at an angle.

Can someone please explain this.

I live in CA so I always thought it had something to do with the railroad, but I see it in cities in other states.

Last edited by Another Place; 01-04-2015 at 01:40 PM..
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Old 01-04-2015, 01:50 PM
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Location: Long Island / NYC
45,988 posts, read 41,967,271 times
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Haven't noticed this in Massachusetts but most city streets aren't in a grid
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Old 01-04-2015, 01:54 PM
 
Location: Eindhoven, Netherlands
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Easier to defend your town from a corner than in the middle i guess.
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Old 01-04-2015, 02:18 PM
 
Location: Michigan
4,571 posts, read 7,034,245 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Another Place View Post
I guess this is a question for all you cartography experts...

Did you ever notice that every city, no matter what state, when you look at it on a map, the original old part of the city or it's downtown area was built on an angle? Go ahead and look. You'll notice that the majority of the town's streets all run perfectly East/West, North/South, except there is an area to the town that is at an angle.

Can someone please explain this.

I live in CA so I always thought it had something to do with the railroad, but I see it in cities in other states.
When most US cities were first founded, the easiest and most common form of travel was by boat. So often times, cities were platted out to align with the nearby river or body of water.

If and when a city would grow out of its original core grid, there was usually a new alignment either to another river, body of water, or some other topographical feature.
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Old 01-04-2015, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis
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I imagine this is usually because settlements tend to start out adjacent to water sources, so the building block streets of those cities are laid in relation to the water's orientation rather than the cardinal directions. There are some major cities in the US with NSEW downtowns - Chicago (of course), San Diego, Phoenix, Indianapolis, etc.
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Old 01-04-2015, 07:13 PM
 
9,520 posts, read 14,830,658 times
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There's no reason to build in cardinal directions aside from that cartographers like it. And many cities are not. Philadelphia has various grids at different angles; the original city and much of North and South Philadelphia follows Penn's plan running roughly parallel and perpendicular to the direction of the rivers at Market Street, whereas the Northeast has a grid parallel and perpendicular to the rivers there. Manhattan's avenues above 14th are parallel to the long axis of the island; this is not due north/south either. The older city below 14th has various angles. Baltimore is a mish-mash of grids many of which are almost (but not quite) cardinal-aligned. Pittsburgh is a bigger mish-mash.

So I don't think your observation holds.
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Old 01-04-2015, 07:58 PM
 
Location: South Beach and DT Raleigh
11,810 posts, read 18,804,722 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Another Place View Post
I guess this is a question for all you cartography experts...

Did you ever notice that every city, no matter what state, when you look at it on a map, the original old part of the city or it's downtown area was built on an angle? Go ahead and look. You'll notice that the majority of the town's streets all run perfectly East/West, North/South, except there is an area to the town that is at an angle.

Can someone please explain this.

I live in CA so I always thought it had something to do with the railroad, but I see it in cities in other states.
The original 1792 plan for Raleigh was just a grid with an off centered square for the capitol building and 4 square parks equidistance from the Capitol in the NE, NW, SE & SW directions. While the 4 square parks were diagonal in direction from the Capitol, they are completely within a grid....nothing diagonal about the street plan at all. As the city grew, the roads eventually became less structured and less grid-like. Major arteries started to generally radiate from the core in different directions but there is not some sort of angled grid of streets established against the original grid.
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Old 01-04-2015, 08:08 PM
 
Location: Portland, Oregon
46,053 posts, read 29,523,816 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Another Place View Post
I guess this is a question for all you cartography experts...

Did you ever notice that every city, no matter what state, when you look at it on a map, the original old part of the city or it's downtown area was built on an angle? Go ahead and look. You'll notice that the majority of the town's streets all run perfectly East/West, North/South, except there is an area to the town that is at an angle.

Can someone please explain this.

I live in CA so I always thought it had something to do with the railroad, but I see it in cities in other states.
Do you have any specific examples or images that you can share or link? I am not sure I follow what you are saying.
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Old 01-04-2015, 08:35 PM
 
410 posts, read 389,142 times
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NYC:

Paris:


Other examples of grid orientations can be found here:
Crayon The Grids – Maps Of Street Layouts Colored By Orientation
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Old 01-05-2015, 12:01 AM
 
Location: Seattle, WA
2,959 posts, read 3,819,814 times
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Seattle's downtown is formed by multiple street grids because the city's founders could not agree on one grid plan, so they all decided to implement their own grids to their own properties. Their inability to cooperate resulted in Seattle's tangled downtown grid layout. In the Central Business District, the grid follows the line formed by the waterfront, not by cardinal directions. The streets outside of downtown, however, do generally follow cardinal directions, except that given the hilly topography, many streets are forced to curve.
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