Why do some streets do a dogleg?

Specifically the streets here. This was my childhood neighborhood, and I walked these streets to grade school. The one I’ve always been most curious about was Lafayette, where it meets N31st St. It makes a dogleg, then half way to 32nd St it curves back to match the rest of the street. Mentioning this to an old family friend she opined that it just followed the “lay of the land”, which didn’t seem right to me as the south side is a slope which would have required digging. Adding to my curiosity is the Stewart at 31st is a slightly less of a dogleg, and Greeley to the north would have been but for Brickel.
If you’ve gotten this far, thanks, and I don’t expect a definative answer, but theories would be nice :slight_smile:

Here in San Diego, it pops up in various places, and mostly has to do with new housing developments being added on to existing streets.

There is one really ugly section of streets near Old Town, where Rosecrans street was added, at a later time, cutting diagonally through a rectilinear grid of streets. You have a bunch of places where the streets come in at 45 degree angles – instead of X intersections, you get K intersections! Damn ugly, and effin’ dangerous, too.

In one section of San Diego, a street was built on a very slight bias – say, 8 degrees out of true right-angles to the intersecting streets – and the buildings along both sides were built with the same angle! The buildings aren’t rectangles but parallelograms!

Also, in San Diego, the terrain is flat mesas cut with ravines, and a lot of streets jink and jibe to go around the heads of the ravines. Our Upas Street is, I think, built in four non-continuous segments.

I’m sure it’s got to do with who owns/owned what property; both historically and currently. That, combined with the restrictions of public right-of-ways and their evolution through legislature and technology (e.g. newer developments being built with a different or newer water/sewer supply or electric grid). And it used to be difficult to cut through a hill. Now we do it in the interest of safety or convenience.

Ultimately, the history of man’s use of that land.

You can also get some interesting effects when an “infill” develops - the commercial area is in one place, the nice views are in another. Eventually the two get connected - but there is a jog because nobody thought to throw a survey line to connect the two places.

Different parcels of former farmland were subdivided into blocks and streets at different times, maybe even before they came into the city. The Springfield Manor subdivision west of 31st was done at a different time than the Parkdale subdivision east of there. Without a strong “official map” ordinance to control and coördinate the street layout (that’s more of a Johnson County kind of thing), the different subdividers just did whatever would maximize their short-term profits by allowing them to sell the most houselots.

Are you referring to where it’s ‘offset’ on 31st? There’s areas like that in Milwaukee, it essentially came down to two subdivisions telling each other to bugger off, about 100 years ago. Neither of them were willing to play nice with the other so now we have a bunch of roads that don’t line up. If it’s just one street, it may have been a way for a developer to give a handful of his houses bigger lots (and some smaller lots) so he could sell them for a premium, but if it’s all the streets in one subdivision not lining up with all the streets in the next one, it’s just because the developer had plans and didn’t care to alter them to make them work with the city. It wouldn’t surprise me if they bought up similar sized areas all over the place and just dropped in the exact same plans with out making any changes. Same roads, some houses, sames everything.

On the one hand, I’m kind of surprised that the city doesn’t require developers to line up roads with the next subdivision, especially since those little offsets (specially when they’re off by like 15-30 feet) can cause traffic issues unless they have a really good reason*. OTOH, I’d imagine some cities are just thrilled to have a known developer with a proven plan come in and move back out in a few months. If it means they have some offset intersections, they can deal with them if it causes problems.
*Of course, saying “you’ll get $5000 in real estate taxes normally, but these 7 houses will each get you $7500 per year this way since they’ll be on bigger lots, that’s an extra $17500 per year” might be a good enough reason.

In rural areas here, the road reservations are mostly much wider than the roads - which start out as one-lane tracks, then get upgraded to one-lane roads etc. You’ll get a dogleg where one farmer has inched onto the road reservation from one side, then further down another farmer has inched in from the other side.

The local council (which owns the road reservations) doesn’t mind, because, until subdivision, there isn’t any traffic on those roads anyway. When traffic picks up, it’s painful, but what you gonna do?

Bad farmers.

The non-straight roads that bug me are in Las Vegas. You can see the major east-west roads from the hotels - they go straight for a few miles, then just jog south a bit then resume their east-west alignment. Look at Flamingo or Edna, for example. Drunk surveyors, or did they just not care about straight lines? Obviously none of them had a protractor, because I don’t see a right angle anywhere!

In Georgia many of these odd road angles exist for several reasons:
-Some roads progressed from wildlife/cattle/Native American trail to wagon path to dirt road to paved. As newer roas were added over time, the old roads were sometimes rerouted slightly to accomodate. It is not unusual for a road name to change at an intersection, in many cases because there were originally 2 roads that did not meet.
-Property lines had more to do with road paths in the past. Governments were less likely to use eminent domain to condemn land and more likely to go where the land was available.
-Terrain was a big influencer of road path. Modern equipment is much better at making possible a striaght path through rocks/mountains/grades, etc.

Less commonly, and to a lesser degree, earthquakes.

Doglegs? K junctions? I live here and I can’t help finding this thread rather amusing.

This doesn’t really apply here, but some might find it interesting. In Indiana (and elsewhere I presume) county roads are laid out on a grid with the roads going N-S and E-W. Go for a few miles on any N-S road, and you’ll hit a jog or offset because one can’t lay out straight roads on a curved Earth.

Two doglegs stand out to me in my neighborhood – one is because of property lines, needing to make a newer road with new homes (new in 1920) to fit with old farms.

The other was intentional because there is a school on the road, and the point of the dogleg seems to be to discourage people from speeding through the block (instead they speed through my block, which is a street over and doesn’t have a dogleg).

In Nashville, it would be a combination of terrain (rivers and hills) and where, as the city grew, it annexed towns that were not originally connected. If you drive south on Gallatin Pike, in certain areas of town, the cross streets will have different names dependent on which side. Same with the doglegs when perhaps the street was renamed or both towns had the same name for them when they not-quite connected.

I got even farther than that, but still no definitive answers. I looked up the tax records for houses along the street, hoping to find a major time lapse between one area and the other. While there’s a house or two that’s modern (2005), most houses all along the road from 31st to 35th date from 1930-1940. I even checked to see if a house right on the edge of Lafayette and 31st directly across from the next street over was significantly older than the houses from 31st to 29th. Nope. The houses over there also came from around 1940.

So my best guess is this: there were definitive property lines back then but in 1940 there weren’t paved roads, nor were there particular zoning regulations concerning setbacks or the like. So as people start building houses in a row, someone along the way said “fuck it. I’m building my house back here,” and others soon followed suit. Paths got worn along a well traveled route and when they finally came to pave it, they followed that path.

And now also road layout has a lot to do with water control. A developer is now responsible for changes they make that affect the people down stream. Is is a ‘deal’ in many places.

I thought they were just being artsi fartsi but they had to control changes in runoff effects.

In the case of the OP there was probably once a jog in how some very old lots were laid out. Lafayette may once have been half as long and when it was extended it need to line up withe a different property line.

In lots of old towns like mine, the are a combination of very long, winding roads and grids. The long ones are the oldest, dating back to when travelers on foot or horseback or in horse drawn wagons took the paths of least resistance. Later, small village settlements were developed with a more grid-like pattern. One long road near me was once the trail used by colonists and natives to get back and forth between Plymouth and Wampanoag Chief Massasoit’s home in Rhode Island.

looking at the satellite image, we see that there are trees either side of the dogleg. Perhaps the trees were already there, and they set out the road to go around them.

It could very well be that there’s no real connection between this specific dogleg and other odd changes in road directions in almost every town and city I ever drove in, but they do have one thing in common: they make me think of the neat poem The Calf-Path by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911) (please note that his viewpoint is over 100 years old and was probably all too common back then, and little has changed since.)