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STANISLAWSKI_the Grid Plan Cities

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American Geographical SocietyTIe Ovicin and Spvead oJ lIe Ovid-Fallevn TovnAulIov|s) Ban SlanisIavsIiSouvce OeocvapIicaI Beviev, VoI. 36, No. 1 |Jan., 1946), pp. 105-120FuIIisIed Iv Anevican OeocvapIicaI SocielvSlaIIe UBL http://www.jstor.org/stable/211076Accessed 13/01/2010 0821Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. 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For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Geographical Society is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access toGeographical Review.http://www.jstor.orgTHEORIGINANDSPREADOFTHE GRID-PATTERNTOWN DANSTANISLAWSKI AM AANY geographers have concernedthemselveswith the study of towns, their distribution, position, site, function,and anatomy, and yet, ofthe innumerablearticlesand bookswrittenon this subject, none, to my knowledge, hasbeendevotedto the origin and spread of the design thatis now standard throughout muchof the world-the grid pattern with straight streets (parallel or normaltoone another) and rec- tangular blocks.It is true that some writershave casually consideredthis pattern,concluding that it spontaneously recommendeditselfto the town builderwhoeveror whereverhe might be. I likewisemadethis assumption at first.But the obviousnessof the grid is more apparent thanreal.In the recordof its use it seemsto have beenno more obviousthan, for example, the wheel. My intereststartedin the Spanish towns of the New World, where I soon foundthatnot only did nativetownsfail to exhibitsucha pattern but during the earliest period of Spanish settlementit was lacking also,1 and subsequentSpanishcities, except when constructedunder direct orders, were likely to vary greatly from the simplerectangulardesign.2 It was this that indicatedthe need for further inquiry into the background of grid towns. My investigation led me into the MiddleEast and into the third millenniumbeforeChrist.That the grid may have an even longerhistory awaitsfurther archeologicinvestigation. It may havebeena one-timeinven- tion whichhas spread from its source region untilat present it encompasses the globe. ARGUMENTSFORANDAGAINST THEGRID The casual assumption that the grid almost automatically becomesthe pattern of a new settlementcannothold up in the light of the history of its distribution. Only those regionsdirectly associatedwith, or accessibleto, areasofearlieruse have shown evidenceofits existence.Iknow of no 1There is no record of the use of the grid pattern for a generation and a half after the Spaniards arrived in the NewWorld. They founded many newtowns during this period, but the grid did not appear until the third decade of the sixteenth century. 2 Aftertherestrictionswereweakened-for example, inthe eighteenth century-many towns came into being, but, with examples ofthe grid all around them, theygrew with hardly a suggestion of that pattern. THEGEOGRAPHICAL REVIEW region in the world that will clearly contradictthis thesis. Butwhen once known and recognized and fitted into the culture pattern, the grid has both obvious advantages and some disadvantages. Let us consider the disadvan- tages first. From the point of view of the individualthere are many reasons for a man to place his building, whether it be dwelling or workshop or tem- ple, at an angle with buildings near by and at some distancefrom them rather than directly inlineand adjoining. Such placement offers advantages in terms ofcirculationofair and exposure to sunlight, as wellas accessibility of the various parts, whereasin the grid efficiency is largely lost without the alignment and juxtaposition of buildings. Secondly, again as regards the individual,there are other plans that would have greaterutility. For exam- ple, the radial plan withstreets leading out from a center like spokes from the hub ofa wheel offers certain advantages over the grid in communica- tionfrom the periphery tothe center. Thirdly, the topography very fre- quently indicateseasierstreet planning than the insistence upon straight lines mounting hills and falling steeply into valleys. Toconsiderthe advantages of the grid plan is to considera longer, and from many points of view, a superior list. Perhaps its greatestsingle virtue is the fact that as a generic plan for disparate sites itis eminently service- able, and if an equitable distributionof property is desirable, there is hardly any other plan conceivable.It can be extended indefinitely without altering the fundamental pattern or the organic unity ofthe city. Property can be apportioned in rectangularplots fitting neatly into a predetermined scheme ofstreetsand plazas. It can be sketched on the drawing board and, within certain obvious limitations, made serviceable.It is also far the easiest plan to lay outwithcrude instrumentsofmeasurement.For a compact settlement of rectangularbuildings this scheme is the only one that lends itself tothe efficientuse of space. Moreover, a distinct advantage for the, grid-plan town under certain political conditions isthat of military control. This would apply in the case of subject towns tobe held under control; for it has been clearly recognized, not onlyby the Spaniards in the NewWorld3 but by Romans and early Greeks before them,4 that atortuous street facilitates 3 "Fundacionde pueblos en el siglo XVI," Bol. ArchivoGenerdalde la Nacion, Vol. 6, I935, p. .350, Sec.iI6. In these orders of Philip II it is suggested that where horses are availablethe wide street is better for defense. Obviously "defense"meant defense of Spaniards, notof natives, for the former were the possessors ofhorses (caballeros). Anarrow, tortuous street wouldhavemeant thedoomof Spanish horsemen in a native revolt. 4 RexMartienssen:GreekCities,South African ArchitecturalRecord (Johannesburg),Jan., I941, p.25(quoting Aristotle); Vitruvius: TheTenBooksonArchitecture, translated by M.H. Morgan, Cambridge and Oxford, 1914, p. 22. Io6 THEGRID-PATTERN TOWN defense by individualsand a straight street lends itself tocontrol from without.5 THEORIESOFORIGIN One theory as to the origin of the grid is basedon its obvious efficiency in the use of space where rectangularbuildings areinvolved.The reasoning is seductivebut not borneout by facts. Examples of strict rectangularity of buildings with a highly irregular street pattern are far too common. They long predate the firstuse ofthe grid and continuetothe present in large areasof the world.6 Another point of interestwith regard to theoriesof the origin of the grid-pattern town concernsthe straightprocessional street.Anotherfar too casual assumption was likewisemadehere that sucha streetwould suggest the advisability of others parallel or at rightangles to it. Thisalsofailsto be borneout, both in Egypt and through the long history of earlyMesopo- tamia.7 The theory thatthe grid stemmedfroman orientationtowardthe points of the compass,probably basedon religion, has provedequallyinadequate. In Mesopotamia,Egypt, and early Greecethe orientationof a building and even a streetwas common, but it did not lead to the laying out of other streetsinaccordance.8Onthe other hand, in Mohenjo-Daro, innorth- westernIndia, therewas obviousorientationof all the streetsand rectangu- larity of blocks, yet excavationhas shownno temple, and there may have beennone.9It seems,then,that religioussignificance as basicto the grid can likewisebe writtenoff as inapplicable. 5 It is sometimes assumedthat the grid was the product of military thought. That it recommended itself to military thinking is not, however, proof that it was originated by soldiers. Polybius (The His- tories of Polybius, translatedfrom the textofF. Hultsch by E.S. Shuckburgh, 2vols., London, I889, Vol.i,p. 484) says: "The whole camp [Roman] is a square, with streetsand other constructions regularly planned like a town." Note the last words. The prior existenceof the nonmilitaryorganization is implied. 6 Throughout the longearly history of Mesopotamia the rectangularbuilding was common (see S. H. Langdon: Early Babylonia and Its Cities, in The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol.i,NewYork, I923, pp. 356-401; referenceon pp. 374, 392, and 395). Nevertheless, irregularity of streetsis also typ- ical (see E. A. Speiser: Excavationsat Tepe Gawra, Philadelphia,1935, Vol.i,pp. I3,20, and 24,Plates 7 and 9). Egypt, for an even longer time than Mesopotamia, showed, withone exception, this combina- tion of rectangularbuildings and irregularstreets (see G. Maspero: Life in Ancient Egypt and Assyria, NewYork,I892,p.17;and Armin vonGerkan: Griechische Stadteanlagen, Berlin and Leipzig,1942, p. 3i; and Martienssen, op. cit., p. 5). 7 Von Gerkan,op. cit.,p. 31; T.H. Hughes and E. A.G. Lamborn:Towns and Town-Planning, Ancient & Modern, Oxford, I923, p. 2. 8 Maspero, op. cit.,p.I96;Langdon, op. cit.,p.374;Speiser,op.cit.,p. 24; VonGerkan, op. cit., pp.31 and78. 9 Sir John Marshall,edit.: Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization, London, I93I,Vol.I,pp. 22and 283. Io7 THEGEOGRAPHICALREVIEW In weighing these advantages and disadvantages of the gri

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