10 Cities Visualized By How Cleanly Their Streets Are Laid Out

Getting around London without a map or a GPS device is hard. The streets go off in all kinds of directions because the city grew organically with little central planning. Paris is more ordered, because of Haussmann’s monumental re-engineering in the mid-19th century. And Chicago is perfectly grid-like. You can walk block to block and always know where you are.

Boston’s street grid.

You get a perfect view of how different cities are arranged from these colorful maps by data-artist Steve Von Worley. Through a series of computing tricks, he plotted nine cities according to their orderliness. Right-angled streets aligned in cardinal directions are represented in red (streets that go north-south or east-west) and different colors–in a range from purple to blue and cyan, green and yellow–are used to show different angles.

Paris’s street grid.

New York, for example, is mostly purple because a lot of its streets are angled 15-30 degrees to north. Chicago is almost all red. San Francisco is an interesting mix: downtown, it’s all grid-like, while towards the ocean, it becomes complicated again. London, Berlin, and Tokyo show off every color in the palette.

Von Worley explains more about his maps here.