Artist and scientist Stephen Von Worley made these incredible “day glo” maps of a handful of the world’s major cities ostensibly to understand in his own words, “what other treasures I had missed.” The result from a data visualization standpoint is to give us an idea of how gridded a city is. A basic rundown of how these beautiful maps work: the roads that are oriented in the same direction have the same color. The thicker the lines, the more “grid-like” the area is.
Says Von Worley, “North-south-east-west streets map to red, those rotated 15 degrees clockwise to purple, 30 degrees blue, 45 degrees cyan, 60 degrees green, 75 degrees yellow, and back to red at 90 degrees (north-south-east-west again).” As you may recall, Manhattanhenge in New York City occurs off the solstice because it’s grid is oriented 29 degrees from due north explaining why most of Manhattan is in purple.
The concentric arrondissement layout of Paris
As he writes of the visual process, “That’s every public street, colored by the predominant orientation of itself and its neighbors, thickened where the layout is most “grid-like” – to use an old-school woodworking metaphor, it’s as if we brushed some digital lacquer over the raw geographic transportation network data to make the grain pop.” And further on his blog, he explains the technicalities of producing the maps using programs like OpenStreet Maps Metro Extracts, Proximatic, and a custom k-NN engine.
Chicago sticks to its grid for most of the city
Boston, though very organically laid out has its fair share of gridded city streets