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Downtown Isn't Drunk, It's Following the Laws of the Indies

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DJ Waldie brings the fun cartographic facts in this weekend's LA Times with an explanation of why Los Angeles just up and tips over right around Hoover Street. Turns out Downtown is set at a 36 degree angle in an attempt to follow the sixteenth century Laws of the Indies, "royal ordinances [that] required that the streets and house lots in the cities of New Spain have a 45-degree disorientation from true north and south to provide, it was said, equal light to every side of a small house throughout the day." (Because of the river, LA is a little straighter than it should have been.) Waldie writes that "the way the streets downtown are shown is often 'corrected' to align with the national grid. On contemporary maps of downtown, the skew is straightened out and Figueroa Street appears to point due north or sometimes even east." Be careful out there, tourists and westsiders.
· L.A.'s crooked heart [LAT]