If you talk to anyone from Chicago that's been living there for a while about where something is in the city, they'll invariably give you a set of coordinates at some time during the conversation.

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

There are multiple YouTube videos about it. This 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

It's a very Washington D.C. or European vibe with the spoked streets radiating out from a central building. It might be pretty, but 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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