Neat squares, like in a math notebook. This is what the map of The Hague generally looks like. One finds it well-arranged, the other finds everything similar and gets lost. But it is orderly.
The grid pattern means that the streets of The Hague mainly run in four directions. From northwest to southeast, from southwest to northeast and these two directions vice versa. If you plot the orientation of The Hague’s streets on a compass rose, as above, a cross is created. The streets run parallel to the coastline or at right angles to it.
Besides The Hague, the compass roses of Almere, Groningen and Tilburg also have this cross shape. “I see it as a spatial signature of central planning,” said Geoff Boeing, assistant professor of urban planning and spatial analysis at the University of Southern California. According to him, such a pattern hardly ever arises just like that.
In other cities, streets run in all directions. The compass roses of Nijmegen and Arnhem, for example, are almost completely filled. According to Boeing, it is not often that these wind roses show other geometric forms of central planning. More likely is “a mix of multiple plans adjacent to each other” or “a more organic long-term urban evolution.” The former seems to be the case in Rotterdam, which consists of several adjacent grids in different directions, fitted around a meandering river. Amersfoort has an organic old center and a large new neighborhood that is not built as a grid: Nieuwland.