As required by the 1807 act, the commissioners produced three large maps, each almost nine feet long. All three copies survive.
The 1811 plan conveys the illusion of the island as a blank slate, with little to obstruct the implementation of the grid. Some existing streets are demarcated by dotted lines, but only a few are identified. The names and dotted streets would have helped city residents locate themselves on the disorienting grid of numbered streets.
The 1811 plan does not describe a place; it records an ordering system. The streets are numbered 1 to 155, where the grid stopped. The Common Council minutes mention problems caused by duplicative street names in lower Manhattan; numbered streets solved that problem and replaced a descriptive system (Broad Way, Bleecker Street) by an abstract, measured order.
At a glance the grid looks uniform, but it contains two patterns that create variety. One pattern is formed by street widths. The avenues are 100 feet wide, the standard cross street is 60 feet, and major cross streets are 100 feet. These street dimensions exceeded both the norms in lower Manhattan, where wide streets were 40 to 50 feet wide, and the minima stipulated in the 1807 act (50 and 60 feet).
The second pattern derives from block dimensions: all blocks are 200 feet north to south, but their dimensions east to west vary, diminishing in width from the center of the island to the shorelines. (The dimensions are spelled out on 86th Street.)
For the two blocks from Fourth to Sixth Avenue, the commissioners kept the 920-foot blocks of Casimir Goerck’s plan of the Common Lands, and the block from Third to Fourth Avenue repeats that dimension. The commissioners retained the Common Lands blocks in order to accommodate a recently established plan, but evidently they considered 920 feet too long for a block. Moving eastward, the blocks shrink to distances ranging from 620 to 640 feet, and the West Side blocks are all 800 feet long. The commissioners did not explain the disparity between East and West side blocks, but the shorter East Side blocks suggest they anticipated faster development and a greater need for street access on that side. The East River was narrower than the Hudson River, and it separated Manhattan from the growing city of Brooklyn.