Commissioners' Plan of 1811

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Grid_1811.jpg
A modern redrawing of the 1807 version of the Commissioner's Grid plan for Manhattan, a few years before it was adopted in 1811.

The Commissioners' Plan of 1811 was a proposal by the state legislature of New York adopted in 1811 for the orderly development and sale of the land of Manhattan between 14th Street and Washington Heights. The plan is arguably the most famous use of the grid plan and is considered by most historians to have been far-reaching and visionary. Some have criticized what they consider its prototypical monotony in comparison with irregular street patterns of older cities.

The plan was formulated by a three-member commission made up of Gouverneur Morris, the lawyer John Rutherford, and the surveyor Simeon De Witt.

The plan called for a regular grid of streets and property lines without regard to the topography of the island itself. The plan called for twelve numbered avenues running north and south roughly parallel to the shore of the Hudson River, as well as 155 orthogonal cross streets. The location of the cross streets was fixed as the boundaries of five-acre parcels that the land had previously been divided into.

Each avenue was to be one hundred feet (30 m) wide. The avenues in the center of the island were to be separated by 922 feet (281 m), and the avenues along the waterfront were to be slightly closer.

The east-west cross streets were to be only 200 feet (61 m) apart, resulting in a grid of approximately 2000 long, narrow blocks.

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