Top left and right: The images of Portland and San Francisco show how both of the cities have orthogonal grid plans. The map of Irvine, California (bottom left) shows an auto-centric, coarse-grained city grid which was typical of American urbanization in the second half of the twentieth century. By contrast, the road plan of Rome (bottom right) is fine-grained and complex with many winding streets and passageways and alleys that have developed organically over a period of thousand of years

Square mile maps reveal how different world’s cities are

A PhD student in urban planning has recreated visualizations of hand-drawn city maps.

Each map shows one square mile of a city’s road networks to compare their spatial arrangement.

The PhD candidate used the Python programming language to develop the urban street maps that were originally drawn by Allan Jacobs for his urban design book Great Streets.

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Top left and right: The images of Portland and San Francisco show how both of the cities have orthogonal grid plans. The map of Irvine, California (bottom left) shows an auto-centric, coarse-grained city grid which was typical of American urbanization in the second half of the twentieth century. By contrast, the road plan of Rome (bottom right) is fine-grained and complex with many winding streets and passageways and alleys that have developed organically over a period of thousand of years

Top left and right: The images of Portland and San Francisco show how both of the cities have orthogonal grid plans. The map of Irvine, California (bottom left) shows an auto-centric, coarse-grained city grid which was typical of American urbanization in the second half of the twentieth century. By contrast, the road plan of Rome (bottom right) is fine-grained and complex with many winding streets and passageways and alleys that have developed organically over a period of thousand of years

Top left and right: The images of Portland and San Francisco show how both of the cities have orthogonal grid plans, lending themselves to compact and walkable blocks. The map of Irvine, California (bottom left) shows an auto-centric, coarse-grained city grid. By contrast, the road plan of Rome (bottom right) is fine-grained and complex with many winding streets

Geoff Boeing, a PhD student at University of California, Berkeley, developed the visualizations as part of his dissertation.

He developed a specialized software package to be able to download a street network for anywhere in the world in just one line of code.

The images of Portland and San Francisco show how both of the cities have orthogonal grid plans.

Portland, known for its compact and walkable blocks, are visible along with the Interstate 405, built through the city in the 1960s, which breaks up this grid.

The map of a business park in suburban Irvine, California, shows an auto-centric, coarse-grained city grid which was typical of American urbanization in the second half of the twentieth century.

By contrast, the road plan of Rome is fine-grained and complex with many winding streets and passageways that have developed over thousand of years.

The road plan of Rome is fine-grained and complex with many winding streets, passageways and alleys that have developed organically over thousand of years. Ancient city walls still enclose a large portion of the city center, and about 6 miles (10 kilometers) out from the center of the city, a highway forms a huge circle around the capital

The road plan of Rome is fine-grained and complex with many winding streets, passageways and alleys that have developed organically over thousand of years. Ancient city walls still enclose a large portion of the city center, and about 6 miles (10 kilometers) out from the center of the city, a highway forms a huge circle around the capital

The road plan of Rome is fine-grained and complex with many winding streets, passageways and alleys that have developed organically over thousand of years. Ancient city walls still enclose a large portion of the city center, and about 6 miles (10 kilometers) out from the center of the city, a highway forms a huge circle around the capital

Top left: Manhattan's rectangular street grids came to be from the New York Commissioners' Plan of 1811. Top right: Paris' square mile shows the Arc de Triomphe at its center with streets radiating outwards from it. Bottom left: Tunisia's capital, Tunis, has a complex layout. Bottom right: Atlanta's layout is typical of many American cities, disconnected and auto-centric

Top left: Manhattan's rectangular street grids came to be from the New York Commissioners' Plan of 1811. Top right: Paris' square mile shows the Arc de Triomphe at its center with streets radiating outwards from it. Bottom left: Tunisia's capital, Tunis, has a complex layout. Bottom right: Atlanta's layout is typical of many American cities, disconnected and auto-centric

Top left: Manhattan’s rectangular street grids came to be from the New York Commissioners’ Plan of 1811. Top right: Paris’ square mile shows the Arc de Triomphe at its center with streets radiating outwards from it. Bottom left: Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, has a complex layout. Bottom right: Atlanta’s layout is typical of many American cities, disconnected and auto-centric

An aerial view of the cityscape of San Francisco, California. San Francisco occupies the tip of a 32-mile peninsula between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The city has many one-way streets and its downtown streets are arranged in a grid pattern - with the exceptions of Market Street and Columbus Avenue, which cut across the grid at right angles to each other

An aerial view of the cityscape of San Francisco, California. San Francisco occupies the tip of a 32-mile peninsula between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The city has many one-way streets and its downtown streets are arranged in a grid pattern - with the exceptions of Market Street and Columbus Avenue, which cut across the grid at right angles to each other

An aerial view of the cityscape of San Francisco, California. San Francisco occupies the tip of a 32-mile peninsula between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The city has many one-way streets and its downtown streets are arranged in a grid pattern – with the exceptions of Market Street and Columbus Avenue, which cut across the grid at right angles to each other

Even when comparing the block sizes of Portland and Irvine, you can see that the block sizes in Irvine are much larger and not as easily navigable on foot as the blocks of Portland.

In another image, a square mile of New York, Paris, Tunis and Atlanta’s city layouts are depicted.

Manhattan’s well known rectangular street grids came to be from the New York Commissioners’ Plan of 1811.

The only real break visible in Manhattan’s grid is Broadway, which runs diagonally across.

The Manhattan system of blocks and avenues arose from the commissioner's plan of 1811. This was the plan for the original design for the streets of Manhattan above Houston Street and below 155th street, which put in place the grid system that defines Manhattan

The Manhattan system of blocks and avenues arose from the commissioner's plan of 1811. This was the plan for the original design for the streets of Manhattan above Houston Street and below 155th street, which put in place the grid system that defines Manhattan

The Manhattan grid system arose from the commissioner’s plan of 1811: The original design for the streets of Manhattan above Houston Street and below 155th street, which put in place the grid system of streets and avenues that defines Manhattan. The task of designing Manhattan’s city plan was given by New York City’s Common Council to three statesmen in 1807

Paris is broken down into 20 arrondissements (municipal districts), each of which has its own mayor, town hall, and particular features. The numbering of the arrondissements begins in the center of the city and continues in a spiral shape, ending to the east. The city was re-designed in 1853 by Baron Haussmann, who launched a huge renovation program of Paris

Paris is broken down into 20 arrondissements (municipal districts), each of which has its own mayor, town hall, and particular features. The numbering of the arrondissements begins in the center of the city and continues in a spiral shape, ending to the east. The city was re-designed in 1853 by Baron Haussmann, who launched a huge renovation program of Paris

Paris is broken down into 20 arrondissements (municipal districts), each of which has its own mayor, town hall, and particular features. The numbering of the arrondissements begins in the center of the city and continues in a spiral shape, ending to the east. The city was re-designed in 1853 by Baron Haussmann, who launched a huge renovation program of Paris

Atlanta's layout is typical of many American cities - coarse-grained and disconnected, surrounded by freeways and very auto-centric. Its interstate 75-85 cuts through the center of downtown Atlanta, worsening its traffic congestion problems. Atlanta's public transportation system, the MARTA, is a plus-shaped subway line and so doesn't serve patches of the city

Atlanta's layout is typical of many American cities - coarse-grained and disconnected, surrounded by freeways and very auto-centric. Its interstate 75-85 cuts through the center of downtown Atlanta, worsening its traffic congestion problems. Atlanta's public transportation system, the MARTA, is a plus-shaped subway line and so doesn't serve patches of the city

Atlanta’s layout is typical of many American cities – coarse-grained and disconnected, surrounded by freeways and very auto-centric. Its interstate 75-85 cuts through the center of downtown Atlanta, worsening its traffic congestion problems. Atlanta’s public transportation system, the MARTA, is a plus-shaped subway line and so doesn’t serve patches of the city

THE COMMISIONER’S PLAN OF 1811

The commissioner’s plan of 1811 was the original design for the streets of Manhattan above Houston Street and below 155th street, which put in place the grid system that defines Manhattan.

The task of designing Manhattan’s city plan was given by New York City’s Common Council to three statesmen in the spring of 1807.

These three men were appointed ‘Commissioners of Streets and Roads’ and would spend the next 4 years developing a plan that would meet the Common Council’s stated goal of ‘laying out Streets… in such a manner as to unite regularity and order with the public convenience and benefit and in particular to promote the health of the City…’

Source: New York Public Library

By contrast, Paris’ square mile shows the Arc de Triomphe at its center with streets radiating outwards from it, as designed by Baron Haussmann, who launched a huge renovation program of Paris which included building wide avenues, parks and squares as well as new sewers and aqueducts.

Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, has a complex layout that developed over the middle ages.

It’s centered around its Medina – a section found in many cities in North Africa which is usually walled with narrow, maze-like streets radiating from it.

By contrast, Atlanta is very different from older cities like Tunis.

Atlanta’s layout is typical of many American cities – coarse-grained and disconnected, surrounded by freeways and very auto-centric.

The final map presented by Geoff Boeing depicts Boston, Jumeirah circle in Dubai, suburban northeastern Sacramento, and Osaka, Japan.

Boston has curving, winding streets along with patches of grid.

Dubai’s layout is auto-centric and is connected by large roadways leading from one development to the next.

All of the maps show different kinds of places in cities: downtowns, business parks and some suburban residential neighborhoods.

Top left: Boston has curving, winding streets along with patches of grid. Top right: Dubai's layout is auto-centric and connected by large roadways leading from one development to the next. Bottom left: Suburban northeastern Sacramento, which is very different to its grid-like downtown. Bottom right: Osaka, Japan is divided into 5 grid sections

Top left: Boston has curving, winding streets along with patches of grid. Top right: Dubai's layout is auto-centric and connected by large roadways leading from one development to the next. Bottom left: Suburban northeastern Sacramento, which is very different to its grid-like downtown. Bottom right: Osaka, Japan is divided into 5 grid sections

Top left: Boston has curving, winding streets along with patches of grid. Top right: Dubai’s layout is auto-centric and connected by large roadways leading from one development to the next. Bottom left: Suburban northeastern Sacramento, which is very different to its grid-like downtown. Bottom right: Osaka, Japan is divided into 5 grid sections

Dubai's city layout is auto-centric and is connected by large roadways leading from one development to the next. Because of its layout, it's difficult to walk anywhere within the city. The city lacks shared public places so most people travel to buildings such as malls and hotel resorts using cars as a mode of transportation

Dubai's city layout is auto-centric and is connected by large roadways leading from one development to the next. Because of its layout, it's difficult to walk anywhere within the city. The city lacks shared public places so most people travel to buildings such as malls and hotel resorts using cars as a mode of transportation

Dubai’s city layout is auto-centric and is connected by large roadways leading from one development to the next. Because of its layout, it’s difficult to walk anywhere within the city. The city lacks shared public places so most people travel to buildings such as malls and hotel resorts using cars as a mode of transportation

Boeing notes that street patterns vary a lot within cities.

For example, Portland’s suburban east side looks very different to its downtown area, and Sacramento’s grid-like downtown looks very different to its residential suburbs.

The research paper explaining Boeing’s street network methods is still under review.

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