|The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011 Randel Farm Map No. 64, 1819 Used with permission of the City of New York and the Office of the Manhattan Borough President|
Go Go Go See this!!!
Yesterday I went to check out the Greatest Grid exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, celebrating the 200th anniversity of the Commissioners plan which laid out the gridded street plan for New York City, creating the system that has made the city what it is.
The exhibition shows not only the impacts of the grid that we see today but also the nuts and bolts of carrying out the plan, from the surveying equipment and original notes (which make my chicken scratch sketchbooks less horrific somehow) to remarkable plans that show the new grid overlaid onto the existing landscape features and property lines that already existed, to amazing photographs that show the effect of an essentially tabula rasa scheme onto an existing landscape, to artifacts that show how the land was divided and sold and then developed.
The city creaeted the roads (sometimes that would go smack through the middle of someone's house), and then the landowners were responsible for bringing their land to grade. The exhibit has photographs of a roadway cutting through a piece of land on one side perched precariously above it, and on the other side a massive ditch.
The newspaper artifacts have litanies of familiar names - Bleecker, Beekman, Astor, etc.
There is also a companion show - The Unfinished Grid - that has design speculations for the future of New York.
Go Go Go see it! it's fantastic!!