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Map of Manhattan's Original Street Plan Celebrates 200th Bithday

By Ben Fractenberg | March 21, 2011 12:57pm
Manhattan's original street plan turns 200 on March 22.
Manhattan's original street plan turns 200 on March 22.
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AP Photo/Kike Calvo

By Ben Fractenberg

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — Hundreds of years before Manhattan's streets became littered with yellow cabs and tourists, a group of men sat down and mapped out the design of the city's iconic streets and avenues.

Tuesday marks the 200th anniversary of New York’s original gridded street plan approval, the New York Times reported.

The city’s street commissioners reportedly approved the plan on March 22, 1811, guessing, correctly, that the endless straight angles would lead to development.

The commission said the city "is to be composed principally of the habitations of men, and that straight-sided and right-angled houses are the most cheap to build and the most convenient to live in."

The plan reportedly mapped out 11 avenues and 155 crosstown streets from the lower tip of Manhattan to 155th Street.

Most people then lived below Houston Street in 1811 and the northern part of the city was mainly forest and farm land.

Within just 100 years the whole upper area would be completely transformed and uptown took shape.

"The 200-foot-long block is short enough to provide continuous diversity for the pedestrian, and the tradition of framing out the grid by building to the street-wall makes New York streets walkable and vibrant," Amanda M. Burden, the director of city planning, told The Times.