Why the hell wasn’t san francisco laid out on contour?
Our obsession with the grid, in a nutshell. It’s hard enough to get around now in San Francisco… can you imagine how difficult it would have been before cars, with horses and buggies? Problem is, most of San Franciso, along with many cities, were laid out before anyone even lived there… or they were laid out according to centralized pre-planned prescriptions of what was “rational”. Don’t know the full story… it appears that the city started in the flat parts of the peninsula, and continued to build its grid, straight up steep hills.
Left: A steep street, the consequence of the commitment to a grid.
Right: Lombard Street – an attempt at contours, compensating for the steep incline of the grid.
A mapstory of the age of San Fransciso’s buildings in 2013. Most from before 1900 are gone. You can see what the area looked like earlier on with the bird’s eye view below. Notice how the streets are starting to be built straight up into the hills.