Grid corrections (Gergo de Ruijter)Grid corrections (Gergo de Ruijter)
Grid corrections (Gergo de Ruijter)

The cause dates back centuries, to the egalitarian Jefferson Grid, designed to ensure equal and fair land distribution by carving up rectangular townships the undeveloped country west of the original 13 states. Each was six square miles, and framed by borders and roads running in straight lines, parceled for sale and development in part to pay off debts following the Revolutionary War.

“It did not take long for legislators to understand that a township could not be exactly six miles on each side if the north-south lines were to follow the lines of longitude, which converged, or narrowed, to the north,” explains landscape architect James Corner in Taking Measures Across the American Landscape. “The grid was, therefore, corrected every four townships to maintain equal allocations of land.”

“This added up to a detour every 24 miles, from sea to shining sea,” writes Geoff Manaugh. “These particular doglegs are most clearly seen far from urban centers, in the agricultural countryside, where the regular, quilted appearance of rural land use makes them more visible.”

Max Pommier

Source: Grid Corrections: Rural Detours Reflect…