The Midwest Really Is Different
OK, so I wanted to see whether Greenfield, Iowa's town square really is "European Style," as its website proclaims. Google Maps, so. Sadly, the satellite imagery for this area is a joke, so I couldn't answer my question, but I noticed that this little county seat features 240th St. That seemed like an awfully big number, and, indeed, the entire town lies between 230th and 250th. Hmm. So, is there some metropolis 240 blocks to the north, the way nearly all of Dade County is laid out from a point in central Miami?
Turns out that this part of Iowa is laid out with east-west streets that run from 110th up to around 360th or 400th, and then starts again at the next county. Meanwhile, the county lines are demarked by evocatively-named roads such as Adair-Adams St. (between Adair and Adams counties) or Adams-Union Ave.
Good Lord, I just realized that the north-south streets are in alphabetical order, again starting and ending at each county line. So Clover Ave. turns into Orange Ave. because the third north-south road in Union County is the fifteenth in Adair County. Wow.
Now, the rationalist in me - the dork who loves logical systems - thinks this is kind of cool. And it's a million times better than the Utah system, which proves that Mormons really are freaky cultists with their street names like S 100 E St. (and they're all streets! No avenues to distinguish orientation). But when you look at those Iowa roads, those endless, dead-straight lanes leading to and from nothing in particular, it has a chilling feel, as if devised by intellects at a slight remove from our own.
The people, that is, with an outsize say in who our next president will be.