B) The Survey

May 20, 1785, is a momentous day in United States history. On that day Congress authorized the surveying of the western territories... into six-mile-square townships. Each township, Congress directed, would be bounded by lines running due north-south and east-west; other parallel lines would divide each township into thirty-six square sections of 640 acres each. The Land Ordinance of 1785 began in compromises that truly satisfied no one, but with minor revisions it determined the spatial organization of two-thirds of the present United States. The Ohio farmer of 1820 - and much later the Wyoming rancher and the California fruit grower - settled and shaped wilderness surveyed according to the traditional and Enlightenment optimism that translated the urban grid of Philadelphia onto land destined for agriculture. (99)

Common Landscape of America, 1580 to 1845 (1982)
John Stilgoe