Elegant Graphs Reduce 25 American Cities to Their Design Essence

In a recent article by Henry Grabar, the confusing layout of Charlotte streets are briefly explained:

"The only other American city, among the 25 Boeing analyzed, that compares to Boston is … Charlotte. The core of the city is a neat grid, but it dissolves into a pattern that looks like cacio e pepe served on a bicycle wheel.

What gives Charlotte this inscrutable layout? Three things.

  1. First, it didn’t grow fast enough during the 18th century to receive a great, forward-thinking grid plan like Manhattan or Washington.

  2. Second, its suburban framework is composed of old roads that once connected the city center to outlying villages. No Jeffersonian grid was ever imposed here. “It looks like spokes of a wheel, and those spokes are the naturally occurring farm roads converting on the courthouse,” says Tom Hanchett, a Charlotte historian and author of Sorting Out the New South City.

  3. Third, Charlotte managed to keep expanding, absorbing the spaghetti-grids of suburban developments.

Charlotte and Boston, though, have no citywide summer sunsets, just like the grid-less cities that are common elsewhere in the world, including Rome, Seoul, Hong Kong, and Rio de Janeiro.

[Graph Source]

Comparing City Street Orientations by Geoff Boeing

#urbanplanning #design #streets #communitydevelopment


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