from the world's big
Street grids matter more to your commute than you might think
Simple diagrams reflect straightforward grids that make navigation easy. Complex diagrams equal ‘messy’ street grids, making it harder to find your way.
How easy are cities to get around? These rose diagrams have the answer. They show how closely street layouts in selected cities align to the four cardinal directions. Simple diagrams reflect straightforward grids that make navigation easy. Complex diagrams equal ‘messy’ street grids, making it harder to find your way.
These rose diagrams (a.k.a. polar histograms) are the work of Geoff Boeing, a post-doctoral student of urban planning at UC Berkeley. The first batch shows the ‘cardinality’ of 25 U.S. cities. The second one does the same for 25 cities around the world.
As the first graph shows, many American cities have street grids that are almost perfectly aligned north-south and east-west. That’s the case for 17 of the cities depicted here: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle, Tampa and Washington DC.
The grids get a bit noisier in cities like Sacramento, St Louis, Philadelphia, and Detroit. Here, the histograms reflect that the streets are organized in more than one grid pattern. In some cases, the combination is purely a matter of place – for example, the city annexing a neighboring town with a differently-oriented street pattern. But history can play a role.
The American grid system was codified by Thomas Jefferson and became the standard method to divide up America, especially its newer territories west of the Mississippi. Its imposition can be seen ‘in action’ in the diagram for Detroit: originally oriented northeast-southwest on the riverfront, its later expansion was executed in line with the standard Jeffersonian grid, using Eight Mile Road as is baseline.
The two cities that stand out for their directional noise are Boston and Charlotte.
“We say the cows laid out Boston”, quipped Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1860. “Well, there are worse surveyors”. Many visitors find Boston’s street grid near impossible to navigate, and its diagram shows why: its streets are not at all lined up to compass bearings, making it much harder than in other American cities to draw a cognitive map of where you are, and where everything else is.
The blame rests not with Boston’s cows. The city’s directional chaos has more prosaic causes. For one, Boston’s age, with much of its center predating the gridding of other city centers. Also: gradual land reclamation in Boston Harbor has added to the city’s complex waterfront layout. And annexation of suburbs with separately-oriented grids has added to mess. As a result, Boston is one of America’s most ‘illegible’ cities. Natives confess that they navigate their city by its landmarks, not by the direction of its streets.
Downtown Charlotte has a straight street grid, but its neatness dissolves beyond the center. Incorporated in 1768, Charlotte experienced chaotic growth following a gold rush in 1799, with further spurts of growth during and after the Civil War, around the time of the First World War and more recently from the 1970s onwards, as a commercial and financial hub. What exactly makes it America’s worst-gridded city? Three reasons:
- City growth was slow in the 18th century when city planners endowed other, faster-growing Eastern cities like Manhattan or DC with strict grids.
- Old farm paths converging from outlying villages on the Charlotte courthouse now make up a spoke-like network of roads.
- Charlotte’s wide urban expansion means it incorporates a lot more suburban ‘spaghetti grids’ than, say, Atlanta, the city limits of which remain much smaller than its wider metro area.
Another exception to the easy-peasy north-south-east-west grid is Manhattan. The New York borough has a fairly straightforward grid, but its orientation is off-center from the cardinal directions. A glance at a map will explain why: the grid is aligned with the shape and the northeast-southwest orientation of the island of Manhattan itself. As in many other North American cities, streets run one way (east-west), avenues the other (north-south), further facilitating navigation.
The second set, with rose diagrams of non-U.S. cities, is a lot noisier. That’s because it includes a lot of Old-World metropoles, which cores that go back centuries. Slower urban growth, defensive needs and the absence of automobiles for most of their history means they typically expanded in a circular, haphazard way rather than a linear and planned manner.
As the diagrams show, London is one of the more difficult cities to find your way around. The London taxi drivers’ exam requires candidates to memorize the streets and routes in a six-mile radius around Charing Cross station. On average, it takes them 3 to 4 years of intense study to acquire 'The Knowledge'.
Going by their diagrams, other complex cities include Seoul, Paris, Rome and Rio de Janeiro. Moscow’s diagram looks noisy, but the streets do seem to be evenly spread among a number of sub-cardinal axes.
A number of cities have ‘fat axes’: a basic cardinality, complicated by a degree of deviation. Glasgow is one, and so are Munich and Mumbai. So are Mexico City and Tehran, albeit slightly off-center. Cairo is vaguely aligned to the cardinal directions because of its location on the Nile, which flows south to north in a fairly straight line.
A number of cities would fit in well into the U.S. selection: New Delhi and Beijing have straight, skinny axes, for example. And although a bit off-kilter, so would Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne – the streets of which, apparently, are oriented towards magnetic north rather than true north, hence the deviation.
Mr. Boeing’s work has inspired others to examine even more cities.
- Tomas applied the technique to cities in Lithuania:
- Kemal Ogun Isik did the same for Turkey:
Strange Maps #924
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.
- If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
- Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
- In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to go ice fishing on Europa<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="GLGsRX7e" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4790eb8f0515e036b24c4195299df28"> <div id="botr_GLGsRX7e_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/GLGsRX7e-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Water Vapor Above Europa’s Surface Deteced for First Time<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c4abc8473e1b89170cc8941beeb1f2d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ-E1lnSOzc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
New study shows white dwarf stars create an essential component of life.
- White dwarf stars create carbon atoms in the Milky Way galaxy, shows new study.
- Carbon is an essential component of life.
- White dwarfs make carbon in their hot insides before the stars die.
What Are White Dwarf Stars?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7b046e546ce994682b2553a8c978eb32"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/77a1KSxfaR0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Master negotiator Chris Voss breaks down how to get what you want during negotiations.
- Former FBI negotiator Chris Voss explains how forced empathy is a powerful negotiating tactic.
- The key is starting a sentence with "What" or "How," causing the other person to look at the situation through your eyes.
- What appears to signal weakness is turned into a strength when using this tactic.
3 Tips on Negotiations, with FBI Negotiator Chris Voss | Best of '16 | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b86d518e9f0c9f9d7a7c686e07798152"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/-FLlBchonwM?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>This question forces a response, but—and this is key—the other person has to consider your side of the argument. They have to look at the situation from your perspective if they hope to offer a solution.</p><p>Offering a real-world example, Voss mentions coaching a high-end real estate agent. They were leasing an expensive home in the Hollywood Hills. The first time the negotiators asked the "how" question, the leasing agent relented on a number of terms. A little while later, they asked again. This time, the agent said, "If you want the house you're going to have to do it," signaling that the end of negotiations had been reached. </p><p>Voss says that "how" is not the only word that works. "What" is also a powerful entry into negotiations, such as "What am I supposed to do?" Again, you're forcing the other person to empathize. </p><p>This is a particularly tricky skill during a time when most conversations are online. Nuance is impossible without the immediacy of pantomimes and vocal fluctuations. Whataboutism is too easy an escape. </p>
Aikido Morihei Ueshiba (1883 - 1969, standing, centre left), founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido, demonstrating his art with a follower, at the opening ceremony of the newly-opened aikido headquarters, Hombu Dojo, in Shinjuku, Tokyo, 1967.
(Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)<p>Online debates often amount to little more than frustrated individuals pulling out their hair. In his book, "Against Empathy," Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom writes that effective altruists are able to focus on what really matters in everyday life.</p><p>For example, he compares politics to sports. Rooting for your favorite team isn't based in rationality. If you're a Red Sox fan, Yankees stats don't matter. You just want to destroy them. This, he believes, is how most people treat politics. "They don't care about truth because, for them, it's not really about truth."</p><p>Bloom writes that if his son believed our ancestors rode dinosaurs, it would horrify him, but "I can't think of a view that matters less for everyday life." We have to strive for rationality when the stakes are high. When involved in real decision-making processes that will affect their life, people are better able to express ideas and make arguments, and are more receptive to opposing ideas. </p><p>Because we "become inured to problems that seem unrelenting," it's imperative to make the problem seem immediate. As Voss says, giving the other side "the illusion of control" is one way of accomplishing this, as it forces them to take action. When people feel out of control, negotiations are impossible. People dig their heels in and refuse to budge. </p><p>What seems to be weakness is actually a strength. To borrow another martial arts metaphor, negotiations are like aikido: using your opponent's force against them while also protecting them from injury. Forcing empathy is one way to accomplish this task. You may get more than you ask for without the other side ever realizing they surrendered anything.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>