Ask a Chicagoan where something is or how to get somewhere and they will invariably offer you a very distinct path that's predicated on Chicago's very orthogonal grid system.

Where's the pancake house?

Oh, dat's up at 45 west and "tirty-tree" north, about 4 blocks up and 3 to the right.

They have programmed the city's coordinates in their brain and everything just turns into a big game of Battleship for them.

And rightfully so. The Chicago grid system is nearly perfect and one of the best in the world. 

Commander Tim Kopra/NASA
Commander Tim Kopra/NASA
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It has inspired countless YouTube videos and other documentaries. This one is one of my favorites.

That whole guy's channel is great, give some of his other videos a watch.

But it almost wasn't this perfect grid system that everyone from Chicago knows and loves.

I stumbled upon this video today while I was procrastinating from doing other things and if you have 20 minutes to burn, you can do a lot worse than this video.

City Builder explains the reconstruction efforts of the city after Mrs. O'Leary's cow burnt down a third of the city. Or was it caused by a cow? There's some disagreement.

No matter how it started, it needed to be rebuilt. Several plans were considered, and this one:

YouTube/City Beautiful
YouTube/City Beautiful
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It's a very Washington D.C. or European vibe with the spoked streets radiating out from a central building. A little bit too French for my tastes and while it might be pretty, it doesn't allow for easy navigation.

There's a deep history to a lot of what Chicago is today, hop in that YouTube rabbit hole and find out some more stuff.

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