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Polar Histograms of Major U.S. Cities

We say the cows laid out Boston. Well, there are worse surveyors. –Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1860

In 1960, one hundred years after Emerson’s quote, Kevin Lynch published The Image of the City, his treatise on the legibility of urban patterns. How coherent is a city’s spatial organization? How do these patterns help or hinder urban navigation? I recently wrote about visualizing street orientations with Python and OSMnx. That is, how is a city’s street network oriented in terms of the streets’ compass bearings? How well does it adhere to a straightforward north-south-east-west layout? I wanted to revisit this by comparing 25 major US cities’ orientations (EDIT: by popular request, see also this follow-upcomparing world cities):

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1 Comment

  1. Detroit is on a river, which is why there are two “crosses”. Along the river, there are streets parallel and perpinduclar to the Detroit River, and farther away it goes to the NSEW grid.

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