It’s always nice to see Arizona featured positively in the national news.
The New York Times published today a detailed map of the United States filters out everything except human structures. The authors compiled the map from a massive data trove from Microsoft that outlines buildings only. The resulting interactive map is a fantastic illustration of urban density throughout America. In each city, you can see the level of layout planning – or the lack thereof. You can also see the clear East-West transition from free-flowing networks of communities that fill the map to relatively isolated towns and cities with clear boundaries; caused by high levels of federal land ownership in the Western States. This line runs roughly north from San Antonio Texas.
The article highlights certain areas of the United States and their design, including the fingerprint-esque tracings of civilization through the hills of Appalachia, the French-influenced communities of New Orleans, the angled street blocks of Washington D.C., and the suburbs of Mesa. It notes specifically how much of America consists of suburbs, but notes in Mesa that the layout of these suburbs is designed to decrease speed and praises them for the creativity in their layouts.
Overall, the article is pretty free of judgment as to which layouts are better or worse, or whether planned cities are better than unplanned ones. The beauty of the map lies in its diversity and the way it shows how these layouts are influenced by geography, culture, history, and government – and it’s outright fascinating.