Aerial photography offers no shortage of eye candy. Take, for instance, the accidental typography of buildings, which can only be seen from above. Or the Kodachrome colors of landscapes. The Jefferson Grid offers yet another beautiful perspective: what one square mile looks like around the globe.
Using one square mile as a metric isn’t an arbitrary measurement. It actually dates back to the late 1700s when the United States was pushing further westward and the Manifest Destiny was starting to take hold. To earn cash, the country enacted the Land Ordinance of 1785, and the Public Land Survey System began as a way to parcel out spaces. Townships were built around six-mile-by-six-mile plots and surveyors broke that down to the square-mile and quarter-mile square. Today, surveying land is as easy as logging onto Google Earth, but it was certainly a rigorous undertaking back then.
The Jefferson Grid shows how diverse the landscape is and how human interventions take shape. Plus, it’s a clever use of Instagram’s square format. This Arizona nursery looks like a woven textile; this shows a painterly portion of Canada; this suburban plot looks like a labyrinth.
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