It turns out that getting New York streets to follow their gridded plan wasn’t only about drawing lines on a map and paying road crews to respect them. When the plan was implemented, in the early 1800s, it involved leveling the city’s landscape so the grid could be imposed. That’s one of many insights revealed in “The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011”, a fascinating show now at the Museum of the City of New York. This detail from a view up Second Avenue from 42nd Street, drawn in 1861 by Egbert L. Viele, shows how high street-level was before property owners were made to flatten their lots. (Hundreds of houses were actually lifted from their foundations and shipped to new sites.)
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