In 1811, city planner and surveyor John Randel proposed a street grid for Manhattan. This criss-cross of streets and avenues became the neat matrix that New York is now renowned for. In celebration of the grid's 200th birthday (20 March), the New York Times has created an interactive map in which you can compare modern day developments with the original plan.
Over the years the grid layout has been condemned and commended. The American writer Henry James deemed it a "primal topographic curse", whilst the architect Rem Koolhaas said that its two dimensional form allowed "undreamed of freedom for three dimensional anarchy." As the debate continues, one thing remains true: the grid has changed the face of Manhattan forever, transforming it into the instantly recognisable city that it is today.
Follow the link to the Architizer blog to read more about the grid and how it affected the topography of Manhattan.