While early platting is generally made to conform to the needs of the period, in some cases attempts were made to foresee later needs, as in the plat of New York laid out in 1807 from Houston, Eighth and Thirteenth Streets to the Harlem River.
arlem, 1670. An unusual plat in that the principal street ran at right angles to the river.
Old plat wiped out by the New York plat of 1807.
Since at that time all commerce was by water, it was reckoned that the chief traffic in New York would necessarily be between the Hudson and the East Rivers, for which reason east and west streets were placed 200 feet apart, while north and south avenues were placed from 600 to 900 feet apart, there being thus fourteen avenues instead of fifty. As a result New York presents in the main the unusual condition of having its business streets running in one direction and its residence streets at right angles. If the Commission had had greater knowledge of cities and could have foreseen the vast growth of New York, they would have realized that the chief internal movement would necessarily be on the line of the longest axis, and the check put upon north and south travel, with the resulting economic loss, would have been avoided.
Constantinople. Irregular roads both in city and in outlying district illustrate process by which city is laid out. Buildings are crowded into the large irregular blocks, and small alleys (not shown on map) furnish access.
A Lost Pike. Old Westport-Independence road recently platted out, with growth of residence section. Kansas City.
Map of Chicago, Showing the Surviving Turnpikes.
The plats of some cities indicate an attempt on the part of the early platters to locate in advance the centre of the city. In New England and frequently in the south a public square was commonly laid out on which, or facing which, the State and County buildings were erected, also the principal churches and business buildings. Such a square by serving as a barrier to business growth, tended to confine the business part of the city to that side of the square on which it started, with the exception of such business as spread along the turnpikes, which usually bounded two sides of the square. Another method was to layout two wide streets at right angles to each other, and strengthen this by locating the County Court House at their intersection, as in Philadelphia, with the Court House at the intersection of Broad and Market Streets; in Reading at Penn and Fifth Streets; in Knoxville at Gay and Main Streets; in Terre Haute at Third and Main Streets; in Bay City at Center and Madison Streets, and in Canton at Tuscarora and Market Streets. It is needless to say that such attempts were futile, the business centres of cities depending on more powerful factors than platting and Court Houses. In general, in proportion as a plat is laid out to further the natural lines of a city's growth, it defines and establishes values, and in proportion to its variance with the city's needs it tends to disperse land values and render them unstable.