- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press; n Second printing edition (January 3, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0231159900
- ISBN-13: 978-0231159906
- Product Dimensions: 12 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#734,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #575 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > City Planning & Urban Development
- #584 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Urban Planning & Development
- #1345 in Books > Textbooks > Social Sciences > Political Science > Public Policy
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The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011 n Second printing Edition
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You don't have to be a geometry major to love The Greatest Grid... (Sam Roberts New York Times)
About the Author
Hilary Ballon is deputy vice chancellor of New York University Abu Dhabi, part of the leadership team developing the school's new, full-scale campus and establishing its identity as a global university. Based in New York, she teaches courses on urbanism and architecture at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Her books include New York's Pennsylvania Stations; Colbert's Revenge, which won the Prix d'Académie from the Académie Française; The Paris of Henri IV: Architecture and Urbanism, which won the Alice Davis Hitchcock Prize for the Most Distinguished Work in Architectural History; and Robert Moses and the Modern City, for which she served as curator of a critically acclaimed, three-part exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York.
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To this day the southern tip of Manhattan is a mishmash of oddly crisscrossing streets. However, in 1811, the Commissioners’ Plan laid out the bulk of the island as a rectangular grid of east-west streets and north-south avenues. (At least through 155th Street. Everyone thought it would be centuries before the city expanded that far north.) Though the original plan would undergo a number of changes through the years, this plan has guided the growth of Manhattan ever since. Despite lawsuits and attacks on surveyors and their work, the philosophy of the grid has been maintained.
And what did this mean for Manhattan? Well, this book is filled with old maps and old pictures that tell the story. (Anyone who loves maps will love this book.) We see the tools used by the surveyors to lay out the grid. We see how many parts of the island were levelled to correspond to the new grid and how old property lines had to be redrawn (sometimes leaving homes hanging on the edge of a new cliff of rock). We learn the whys and wherefores of the alteration to the original grid (the creation of Central Park, the winding route of Broadway). We see why the East Side was built up before the West Side. We find out what happens once the City makes its way north of 155th Street.
For anyone interested in learning about how a big city grows, this book is magnificent. For anyone who lives in or loves Manhattan, this book is a must-have. Rarely have maps and pictures been used to such effect to tell the story of a city. This is a book that should be read.
It is simply the best book, by far, about the physical history of Manhattan - what was here (we live in NYC) in the beginning, how Manhattan's famous grid plan was developed, its overt social planning goals, and the amazing skill and determination of the New Yorkers who made it a reality. It really is quite a story.
That story is laid out in concise two-page sections for the most part: graphics, plans and photographs that document a particular topic accompanied by an essay written by an expert in the field. The layout and reproduction quality is of the highest order.
Overall, it is quite an achievement.