The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811–2011, an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, marks the 200th anniversary of the 1811 Commissioner’s Plan that established the Manhattan street grid. It is presented at the Museum in cooperation with the New York Public Library and the Architectural League of New York. The Unfinished Grid: Design Speculations for Manhattan serves as the bridge between the historical content and projective ideas.
Our design is included as one of four proposals that exemplify the grid’s capacity to serve as a conceptual framework for more theoretical art, architecture, and urbanism projects. We reimagined Manhattan’s verticality with the words and phrases of the novels, poems, essays, and other forms of texts that have been used to represent it throughout history. The Manhattan Grid as a Repository for Words shows the Manhattan grid as a two-dimensional map, a library of words from the past two centuries. The Manhattan Grid as a Template for Words presents the city as a multidimensional hub of expression, extending into virtual space. Has the grid of our existence conditioned us to think in discrete blocks of data, binary ones and zeroes? Has our worldview been reduced to the rectangular blocks of computer screens, bursts of codified text and images?