A collection of diagrams featuring the American grid. If you would like to submit your work, contact me.

Updated on January 1, 2013

The Great American Grid

Infographic by Paul Knight

The ubiquitous grid has been utilized across the United States. From small farming towns to mega-cities, from Hawaii to Alaska, essentially the exact same system of right angles is largely responsible for the variety of urbanism in America.

For example, Paragonah, Utah and Chicago, Illinois share the exact same block structure; their grids are almost dimensional duplicates. However, their independent characters, land use intensities, and population densities could not be further apart from each other. While they share the same grid, Paragonah and Chicago have developed in drastically different ways. This is one of the greatest testaments to the grid plan’s flexibility.

This infographic places 20 American grids in a side-by-side comparison at the same scale of 1″=400′-0″.

Grid Comparison

The Variety of American Grids

Infographic by Daniel Nairn

After a week on Google Earth, Daniel Nairn collected enough data to produce this infographic of block sizes from around the country.
You can download a full-size pdf of this infographic at Greater Greater Washington’s website.
You can peruse Daniel Nairn’s blog at Discovering Urbanism.

Nairn Grid Poster

Land Ordinance of 1785

Infographic by Paul Knight

The following infographic shows the sequential levels of subdivision that are specified by the Land Ordinance of 1785. These levels start at the scale of a state and extend down to a township, a section, a quarter-section, and so on.

Shown within the infographic are subdivisions smaller than 10 acres. These are conjectural extensions of the system and are intended to reveal the different units of blocks and lots that are possible by using the methodology of the system. So hypothetically, if one were to take the rules of the Land Ordinance and follow them down to the smallest detail possible, one could eventually arrive at a lot 60 feet wide.

A scan of the original 1785 document can be found at the Library of Congress.

1785 Ordinance Diagram 3