Aerial Photos of Life on the Grid

Friday May 31, 2019 Written by Gram

There’s a lot to be said for living on the grid. Grids make navigation easier, improve traffic flow and provide developers with plots of land that are as predictable and regular as Lego blocks.

The Jefferson Grid is an Instagram account that uses Google Earth to chart the planet, one square-mile of land at a time. The account takes its name from the grid Thomas Jefferson used to divide up the United States over two hundred years ago. 

Faced with arguably the biggest first world problem of all time – how to subdivide, sell and occupy unmapped land that you have never set foot on – Jefferson introduced the Land Ordinance of 1785. The Ordinance divided the entire western territory into townships, sections, and quarter sections. A potential buyer could point to a map, make their purchase and head out west to arrive at their one square mile of American dream.

Today, the ordinance continues to have an effect on urban, suburban and farmland planning. The result is a perversely pleasing landscape as small towns, farms, rivers and forests all submit to the grid’s unrelenting logic. But it takes a bird’s-eye view to see its beauty at work.