Woven across Manhattan Island is a vast tapestry of street and block that has been so successful in organizing the forces of urban development, it’s often hard to see the simple pattern that exists below the city’s skyscraper forest. Manhattan’s street grid is potentially the most powerful city building tool ever created. It has forced all new growth to integrate itself into the rest of the city, linking new into the old through interlocking blocks that have formed a geometrically simple yet complex urban structure. A structure that has fueled the island’s dense, mixed use, walkable, and transit friendly form that so many other cities try yet fail to achieve today.
What has been lost in the ignorance and rejection of the core principles of the Manhattan grid, to the detriment of most cities in the western world, is the ability to establish the physical pattern that new growth and development will take in order to integrate itself into a connected urban whole. Even after years of study and research; after the late great Jane Jacobs brought to light the vitality of interconnectedness and neighbourhood mish-mash; after all the ideological experiments for real urbanism have remained sterile; the Manhattan street grid has remained forgotten.