Friday 12 June 2020

City street patterns

This is a post about streets. Or roads. Or Avenues, Lanes, Gardens or Places, or even Ways. Giuseppe Sollazzo did this kind of thing already in an extremely clever and efficient way, and he's very much the inspiration here. But I wanted to revisit the topic for a variety of reasons, though mostly just curiosity - and sometimes that's enough. 

So, let's begin by looking at one of the 451 maps I made, of the UK's biggest new town (population now about 270,000).

Quite a few Close and Court and Hill ones 

As you can see, all I've done is colour the roads according to their designation as 'Road', 'Street', 'Way' and so on. The 'Other' category includes things like 'Close', 'Court', 'Hill', 'Crescent', 'Brae' and a few more, but there aren't enough colours for all of them. In Milton Keynes, and some other places, you also get streets with no second name, like where they are just called things like 'Downland' or 'Cavenham' or 'Garston'. I think that's because the local road namers refused to work pro bono. Okay, I'm really struggling to make this U2 joke work, sorry.

Anyway, I've done maps for 451 different locations across Britain using Ordnance Survey open data (the OS Open Roads layer). I then added some place names using a possibly-annoying whimsical font (Nanum Pen) and then added a colour bar legend along the bottom so you can tell what's what. Here's a map centred on Liverpool, which is a good example of the way in which 'Street' tends to be in more central, older locations. 

You can see Queens Drive here easily

The scale is the same on all maps - I used a 1:50,000 scale and you can see how far one mile is by looking at the scale bar in the bottom left of the images. they are mostly focused on individual towns and cities but in the case of London, for example, there are maps centred on specific areas, such as Kensington.

It's all Roads beyond here

Edinburgh (with its New Town, for example) and Glasgow (with its central grid pattern) are actually very interesting, so I've added them below.

Spot Holyrood Park

Look closely to see the M8 and M74, M77, M80

What about some other big towns and cities? The full set is in this online folder, but I've posted some more below for the time being. I've started with York, because it's not fair that it always ends up last on the list.

That's all there is to it, really. 

But I do think it gives us an interesting glimpse into lots of other things, like how the new towns were laid out, how some of our older and bigger towns and cities developed, and even things like density, connectivity, topography and so on. 

I'm fascinated by the shapes of towns and cities so that's how I got here, and if you've scrolled this far maybe you are too.