As we’ve noted, there’s an ongoing exhibit on how radically awesome New York City’s grid system is and the fascinating history behind it when first proposed back in the early 1800s.

The plan was quite the controversial undertaking and the Times reports how the wealthy created all sorts of problems: “One obstacle was that the island was already parceled into irregularly shaped, privately owned properties.”

At first they were opposed to the grid, but soon discovered that their newly divided lots were worth a lot of money, and this is what birthed the city’s real estate market. Although not even these visionaries could have expected an era when $88 million apartments aren’t the most expensive and can be topped by offers on property that doesn’t even exist yet. (Image 54th and 55th Streets near First Avenue circa 1866: Museum of the City of New York/NYT)