First plat of Los Angeles. Lots around Plaza (marked P) given to settlers; also tracts between irrigating ditch and river, for farming.
In waterfront cities with rectangular plats the waterfront is normally used as a base, whether straight, curving or broken and irregular, and in inland cities the turnpikes are used as a base. These plats extend to a greater or less distance according to the expectations of the early inhabitants, but finally reach land held according to the section lines of the U. S. Government survey. This change in the direction of holdings commonly changes the direction of the new additions and streets platted, as in Denver, Seattle and Montgomery.
Another variation in rectangular plats is due to the survival of old turnpikes in parts of the city subsequently platted. Many of these old roads are obliterated by platting, but others remain, on account of their convenience for traffic, the important buildings upon them and the fact that land titles are often measured "from them, as from Broadway in New York. Of surviving turnpikes, the most common are those which exist in the suburbs, but have been merged into the rectangular streets before reaching the heart of the city, as in Chicago, Philadelphia and Milwaukee. Diagonal turnpikes reaching to the heart of the city still remain in Cleveland and Detroit, and one main turnpike remains in San Francisco, Macon and St. Joseph.
Great salt lake city. (from the north Salt Lake City, about 1860. Large blocks designed for a farming community.
Historically distinct but practically similar to turnpikes are the diagonal streets laid out on the original plat of some cities, such as Washington, Buffalo and Indianapolis. Variations in plats occur where a city is the result of two or more settlements which have grown together and merged, as in Toledo, Montgomery, etc.
The general effect of irregular laying out is to strengthen central growth as opposed to axial growth, quick access to or from the business center being afforded only by turnpikes. A disadvantage felt later is that as a city expands and quick communication over great distances becomes imperative, vast expense is incurred in widening and straightening streets, this expense being sheer waste due to lack of foresight. Paris under Baron Haussmann spent $250,000,000 on a system of boulevards; London's new Strand improvements are to cost $33,500,000 (of which $30,000,000 will be refunded from the sale of frontage) and some older American cities, notable Boston, have spent large sums on such work.
Albany, 1695. Intersection of Handlers and Jonkers Streets, now Broadway and State Street, still the business center of the city.
Detroit, 1796. The small first plat near the river and parallel to it has been wiped out by the larger modern platting.
The effect of rectangular platting is to permit free movement throughout the city, this being further promoted by the addition of long diagonal streets. The need for diagonal streets depends largely on the shape of the city's site, there being but little use for them in such narrow cities as New York and Boston, while they are of great utility in any city which spreads in all direc_ tions over a level area, such as Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo. Washington furnishes an extreme example of diagonal streets, the large proportion of land taken up by streets and squares being suitable to a political city, where it would not be economical for a business city.