Chicago is known for being the birthplace of the skyscraper and home to some of the world’s tallest towers, but the city’s street grid system and master plan is equally as innovative and impressive as the tall steel structures that helped launch the Windy City onto the global radar. Chicago’s grid system makes it easier to get around the city as it provides an accurate understanding of direction based on block numbers and geographic distance from the Loop. Once you understand Chicago’s grid system, it’s entirely possible to navigate your way through the city without the help of a map or GPS—people have been doing so for decades.
While Chicago’s grid system is useful at the ground level, it’s something to admire from above. The users of the popular subreddit Oddlysatisfying have recently discovered the mesmerizing properties of Chicago’s grid. A post featuring an animated gif of the city’s grid system at night is currently the top post in the forum, receiving over 10,000 upvotes. The image appears to be taken from the 860’-tall Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue as the Mag Mile’s Park Tower appears in the foreground of the animated loop.
Some of the comments highlight (and even taunt) other cities that don’t have such an efficient grid system. Others mention the light pollution and pervasive orange glow from the sodium-vapor street lights. But there’s also a couple of mentions and links to songs about Chicago at night, Andrew Bird’s “Pulaski At Night” and Spoon’s “Chicago at Night.”
Anyone who has flown into O’Hare International Airport during the evening or night has gotten a very clear and full look at Chicago’s wonderful grid. The grid system truly is a marvel, and with Chicago being as flat as it is, visitors and residents can get a complete view of how far it stretches from high above.
- Chicago at Night [Reddit]