Who Cares About the American Grid?: An Analysis of 2012 Website Data

by Paul Knight. Average Reading Time: about 3 minutes.

This was the first full calendar year for The Great American Grid after it went live at the end of 2011. The site statistics for 2012 are in. The totals include 6,378 visits (123 visits per week) in 96 different countries–from Albania to Zimbabwe. In this article I parse the numbers to try and see who really cares about the American grid.

The World

Depending on how you define the “countries” of the world, The Great American Grid has been read in about half of them. Here is a list of the top 10 with their respective number of visits:

  1. United States 4,538
  2. Canada 347
  3. United Kingdom 229
  4. Australia 118
  5. France 92
  6. Germany 59
  7. Netherlands 50
  8. Spain 45
  9. India 44
  10. Italy 44

And here is the data graphically for all countries (with the number of visits highlighted in green):


Obviously those of us in the United States are the ones most interested in our own American grid, but what does this data say of the other countries?

Canada’s second spot is not so surprising. They have followed much of our planning and surveying methodologies throughout our mutual histories. Combing the Canadian region in Google Maps will reveal the standard rectangular system of subdivision into 1 mile (640 acre) sections. This, I suspect, followed our 1785 Land Ordinance, but I need to confirm this.

After Canada and the UK, the numbers for other countries dwindle rather quickly. Taken together, however, they add up to a sizeable international community of readers (1,799 visits in total or about 35 visits per week). Perhaps the American grid to foreigners is just as romantic as the rues and autobahns are to us.

The United States


Now let’s have a look domestically. The above graphic indicates that California and New York include some of this website’s most frequent visits with a total of 564 and 440 visits, respectively, in 2012. However, as I explained elsewhere in an article on form-based codes, it is best to normalize state-based data relative to population. This ensures that the numbers from Texas will not unfairly overwhelm those from Rhode Island. That said, the measure being calculated here for each state is Number of Visits per 1,000,000 or, put another way, Reader Density. Here is a list of all the states (plus the District of Columbia) with their respective reader densities (rounding to the nearest whole number):

  1. District of Columbia 133
  2. Rhode Island 71
  3. Oregon 37
  4. Utah 28
  5. Massachusetts 27
  6. Connecticut 27
  7. Georgia 25
  8. Illinois 24
  9. New York 23
  10. Vermont 21
  11. Montana 18
  12. North Dakota 18
  13. Washington 18
  14. Ohio 17
  15. Idaho 17
  16. Maine 17
  17. Maryland 16
  18. Colorado 16
  19. California 15
  20. New Jersey 14
  21. Nevada 14
  22. Oklahoma 13
  23. Florida 13
  24. Nebraska 12
  25. Virginia 12
  26. Alabama 12
  27. Pennsylvania 11
  28. Missouri 11
  29. Arkansas 11
  30. Minnesota 11
  31. Indiana 10
  32. Kansas 10
  33. South Carolina 10
  34. Wisconsin 9
  35. North Carolina 9
  36. Hawaii 9
  37. Tennessee 9
  38. Michigan 8
  39. Arizona 8
  40. Texas 8
  41. South Dakota 7
  42. New Hampshire 7
  43. Delaware 7
  44. Louisiana 7
  45. New Mexico 6
  46. Mississippi 5
  47. Alaska 4
  48. Iowa 4
  49. Kentucky 3
  50. Wyoming 2
  51. West Virginia 2

And here are each states’ reader densities as a percentage above or below the average:


It appears that Washington, D.C., is the clear winner with the highest number of visits per million. Why the people of DC are far and above more interested in the grid than any other jurisdiction makes plenty of room for speculation. Is it the patriotic role of the grid throughout American history? Is it their infatuation for L’Enfant’s use of the grid as a backdrop for his diagonals? Perhaps anything with “Great American” in the title yields immediate popularity in the nation’s capital. Who knows?

Going down the list, Rhode Island has the No. 2 spot. This happens to be my current place of residence, but I have blocked my own IP address from being counted so my visits do not inflate the numbers. Perhaps all of my friendly correspondence with my Rhode Island neighbors has paid off in visits (thank you).

Oregon’s No. 3 spot is likely due to the popularity of James Earl’s article The Art of the Circle Field.

At the end of the list, Wyoming and West Virginia could care less about the grid. For West Virginia I suppose this makes sense; it is difficult to find the grid in this state. But Wyoming actually exhibits a number of grid examples including the cities of Cheyenne, Casper, and Douglas. In 2013, it will be my top priority to increase the numbers in Wyoming. Watch out Wyomingites!

American Cities


Not surprisingly, New York and Chicago top the list in terms of number of visits:

  1. New York 297
  2. Chicago 214
  3. Atlanta 128
  4. Los Angeles 87
  5. Washington 83
  6. Cincinnati 77
  7. San Francisco 75
  8. Seattle 72
  9. Cambridge 67
  10. Providence 64

Most Popular Content

With total number of page views.

  1. Fallacies Against the Grid 2,115
  2. Land Ordinance of 1785 Infographic 622
  3. Choose the Grid? Absolutely 354
  4. The American Grid 284
  5. Visiting the Greatest Grid 276

Top Traffic Sources

With total number of visits generated.

  1. Google 2,382
  2. Direct (no referral) 1,419
  3. Planetizen 762
  4. Reddit 211
  5. Twitter 181
  6. Curbed Chicago 172
  7. Facebook 127
  8. Better Cities 108
  9. Paul Knight Blog 101
  10. Old Urbanist Blog 77

That is all the data I have. In closing, it has been 330 years since William Penn introduced the grid to America through Philadelphia. In its 331st year, let’s continue to explore the potential that the grid has for our contemporary way of life. Please let me know if you would like to have your grid-related work featured on this website.

Happy new year!

2 comments on ‘Who Cares About the American Grid?: An Analysis of 2012 Website Data’

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  2. […] 21 earlier this year. The site’s popularity in DC continues to be somewhat of a mystery, as I discussed last year. Finally, Wyoming represents a great achievement. A direct goal for 2013 was to increase readership […]

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