Visualizing Raleigh’s Puny Grid Structure Compared to Other Cities

The city of Raleigh saw most of it’s growth after racist, suburban development trends had been entrenched in American’s planning trends. This led to an extremely small original grid structure when compared to other cities.

Raleigh is referred to as “a giant suburb” by people for many reasons. The lack of true grid system outside of Downtown is one of the main reasons why. This makes implementing things like Missing Middle, bike and ped infrastructure and more much harder. Many people who live even a mile from Downtown have the feeling that they live in a single family suburb since they live on cul-de-sacs and windy roads.
Let’s take a look at Raleigh’s grid compared to other cities. For this analysis, the grid is considered the area where most roads make rectangles.

Raleigh | Pop 500,000 | Metro Pop 2,100,000 | Grid Size 8 Sq Mi | City Size 150 Sq Mi | Density 3333/mi | Grid % of City Limits 5

Durham | Pop 285,000 | Metro Pop 2,100,000 | Grid Size 10 Sq Miles | City Size 110 Sq Mi | Density 2590/mi | Grid % of City Limits 9

Greensboro | Pop 300,000 | Metro Pop 1,600,000 | Grid Size 18 Sq Miles | City Size 130 Sq Mi | Density 2300/mi | Grid % of City Limits 14%

Savannah | Pop 150,000 | Metro Pop 405,000 | Grid Size 23 Sq Miles | City Size 115 Sq Mi | Density 1300/mi | Grid % of City Limits 20

Charlotte | Pop 880,000 | Metro Pop 2,600,000 | Grid Size 23 Sq Miles | City Size 308 Sq Mi Density 2850/mi | Grid % Of City Limits 7

Atlanta | Pop 500,000 | Metro Pop 6,200,000 | Grid Size 56 Sq Miles | City Size 134 Sq Mi | Density 3731/mi | Grid % of City Limits 42

St Pete | Pop 300,000 | Metro Pop 3,100,000 | Grid Size 54 Sq Miles | City Size 135 Sq Mi | Density 2222/mi | Grid % of City Limits 40

Portland | Population 650,000 | Metro Population 2,500,000 | Grid Size 59 Sq Miles

New York | Population 8,500,000 | Metro Population 20,000,000 | Grid Size 600 Sq Miles

Images made with GoogleMyMaps

Thoughts

  • Cities that are smaller than Raleigh even have bigger grids
  • The grids of Raleigh and Charlotte make up a tiny fraction of the city
  • Grids make infill, multimodal transportation, transit and overall city building easier
  • Grids decrease infrastructure costs and are more sustainable due to decrease in road centerline miles
  • Sunbelt cities have smaller grids than elsewhere due to the time periods that they grew
  • There are still opportunities to expand Raleigh’s grid

Opinions and insights are my own and are not representative of my employer or any organization. Any ideas displayed on this site are purely that – just ideas to help improve the future of the built environment and begin discussions.

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