City Street Orientations

Geoff Boeing:

Each of the cities is represented by a polar histogram (aka rose diagram) depicting how its streets orient. Each bar's direction represents the compass bearings of the streets (in that histogram bin) and its length represents the relative frequency of streets with those bearings. [...]

Most cities' polar histograms similarly tend to cluster in at least a rough, approximate way. But then there are Boston and Charlotte.

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12 Responses:

  1. margaret says:

    When computing Manhattan Distance be sure to rotate your grid +29°.

  2. Not Frank says:

    I see many others are asking after Pittsburgh, which as pointed out in comments there would be interesting both due to terrain-imposed insanity as well as multiple, different grids. I wonder if one grabbed the right section if it would effectively just have three main spokes.

    • Tim says:

      I think Valparaiso may be the gold standard for terrain-imposed insanity, and it seems to include several irregular grids.

  3. MetaRZA says:

    It's almost as if older city were laid out organically and haphazardly and newer cities had a planed rigid structure.

    • Glaurung says:

      "It's almost as if older city were laid out organically and haphazardly and newer cities had a planed rigid structure."

      Not entirely. Many old European cities have a very sensible radial structure to them (like a spoked wheel or an orb spider web) which shows up poorly on these diagrams.

  4. bq Mackintosh says:

    Yeah, Seattle's is just plain wrong.

    Seattle's entire downtown area is on a roughly 45° tilt to the rest of the city (and then north of downtown, at roughly 60°), due to a preposterous pissing contest about Whose Grid Will Reign Supreme back in the early 20th century. Then someone took entire neighborhoods and T-boned them into other neighborhoods, so there are all sorts of grid collisions scattered through the city, where it's pretty clear that the street layout is the result of the municipal planners crumpling up the map in disgust, and then the intern fishing it out of the trash and smoothing it out kinda and then just handing it to the construction foreman and saying, "This, I guess."

    Aside from that, nature stubbornly put lakes and small mountains right in the middle of what plainly was going to be Seattle, I mean, come ON, right? Thanks, nature. So now many streets make nearly Bostonian serves and jukes to avoid things like cliffs and submersions.

    So anyway, that neat 90° data display for Seattle seems to be the result of the algorithm not actually examining the street layout, and instead catching up on back episodes of Game Of Thrones.

  5. Steve Jones says: Rio de Janeiro a swastika?

  6. Troy says:

    they musta looked at Tokyo and said 'ah nah, man'

  7. CdrJameson says:

    Does it only count straight streets?
    What's the orientation of Picadilly Circus, Hanger Lane Gyratory or the M25?

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