By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Night view of Salt Lake City's grid system

“The city’s grid was designed so that you would always know exactly how far you were from its spiritual center,” says producer Sam Greenspan in a new podcast from 99% Invisible that explores the Salt Lake City grid system which has remained in place since the pioneers settled in the valley.

The podcast says that the famous grid system was originally designed by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. One of the unique features of the system is its massive blocks.

The blocks were originally designed for homesteading in the downtown area. “Joseph Smith imagined the essential piece of the urban fabric would be the home,” says the narrator. He further explains that the reason Joseph Smith designed the large block size was to reduce the amount of crime and to allow for farming.

The large blocks cause some challenges in modern downtown, such as pedestrian crossings, multiple lane crossings, and the need for cars, which creates smog.

The podcast further explains the spiritual and physical processes that led to the grid system.

Emily Utt, LDS church historic sites curator, said on the podcast that Joseph Smith “was really looking at this as the basis of a revelation, to understand how the kingdom of God looks when it hits the earth.”

Listen to the entire podcast here.