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Keywords:

  • diffusionism;
  • genealogy;
  • grid;
  • orthogonal planning;
  • Dan Stanislawski;
  • urban form

ABSTRACT. As a spatial form, the grid pattern has influenced a range of human activities, from urban planning, architecture, and modern art to graphic design, archaeology, and cartography. Scholars from different disciplines have generally explored the role of the grid within their respective fields of inquiry. One of the earliest geographical attempts to systematically trace the origin and diffusion of the grid-pattern town was provided by Dan Stanislawski in the mid–twentieth century. In this article I critically examine the limitations of Stanislawski's theory of the grid's origin as a means of challenging the doctrine of diffusionism more generally. I then provide a selective overview of recent approaches to understanding the grid and call for a comparative genealogy of gridded spaces and places.