Despite the city's reputation as a traffic nightmare and a bonafide jaywalking haven, New York's rectangular street matrix was no accident. Conceived more than 200 years ago, the plan would give rise to Manhattan's explosive development through the 19th and 20th centuries. According to the New York Times, it mapped out modest but equal lots—25 by 100 feet in dimension—for public purchase. New Yorkers live within the same narrow confines today, and most of them know it. While it's now hailed as a beacon in the history of city development, not everyone was on board with the New York street grid initially. French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville once called the 11 major avenues and 155 crosstown streets "relentless monotony." How else would you describe a system where drivers and pedestrians have no way of telling where they're standing until they look up at the street signs?