logo image

Visualizing Street Orientations

Vector Street Map

Credit: Seth Kadish


This has more to do with data visualization than planning or density, but the concept is so simple and well done, I had to share. Self-proclaimed scientist and data visualizer (visionary?) Seth Kadish has compiled the streets of major U.S. cities and represented them on compass polar coordinates. They remind me of wind roses, another example of great visual representation.

As you can imagine, cities laid on strict grids (i.e. Manhattan) are essentially exclusively vectors at 90 degrees. Cities not planned on grids (i.e. typically older cities) have a much more even distribution around the compass. One surprise to me was Charlotte, NC, which appears to have the distribution that comes closest to a circle, i.e. what you would expect form a perfectly random collection of streets. I would have guessed Boston would have been the closest., though it does have some gridded neighborhoods, and Charlotte, if I’m reading the map correctly has a good deal of suburb-like neighborhoods with winding roads, cul-de-sacs and such.

See Seth’s blog for even more cities.

Leave a Reply