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Letter: A wonky street theory

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The article in the January 10, 2022, Times-News discussing the wonky streets in Twin Falls suggests the water flowing parallel to 8th Avenue was the reason. Then why is Buhl also at a diagonal? The oldest map the Twin Falls Canal Company possesses shows both the Twin Falls and Buhl locations with diagonal streets.

Paul Bickel was a Philadelphia based engineer and he oversaw the entire Twin Falls irrigation project. Bickel mostly likely read the Engineering News of October 10, 1891, as it was an important engineering journal of the time and the issue was about street planning.

People approaching a town on a rectangular grid would need to advance to a certain point then make a right angle turn to reach the center of town. A city with central streets at a 45-degree angle allowed those entering from mile roads at the corners to proceed to the center faster. It was quicker to travel the hypotenuse than by grid streets.

Other city designers found that the rotated city center allowed for a view of other structures at the end of a street rather than seeing miles of the same view. A third benefit was the small triangles created landscape opportunities that did not exist in a grid town.

People traveling on what would be Kimberly Road would hit the corner of town and quickly diagonal to the business district in the center. The same for people entering from the west or the north.

In the end, Hayes surveyed the town as it was drawn. It was never the plan to continue the diagonal pattern outside of the one square mile. That would not have broken the view looking down long streets.

Dennis Sonius

Twin Falls


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