Attached is a 1901 planning map of southern Queens, which shows an endless grid covering the entire borough.
In my opinion, this is where the crappification of our borough may have begun, when our city began to look at Queens as an endless suburb, rather than a collection of towns with their own unique grids and routes. On this map, wetlands and creeks are erased, there are no large parks, or diagonal roads.
The area is Idlewild, which remained largely undeveloped until 1948, then an airport covered almost everything south of the Belt Parkway between Howard Beach and the County Line. Had the airport not been built, this area would probably have resembled the rest of South Ozone Park, with long rectangular blocks and tract housing.
A second attached map shows a master plan for the future of Flushing in the early 1930s. Kissena Creek is wiped from the map, and the only exceptions to the endless grid are the Parental Home (future Queens College), cemeteries, and a number of golf clubs. I wonder why the mapmakers expected the farmers to sell their lands to the grid, but the golf clubs to remain. Flushing Meadows is labeled as the "World's Fair Site."
The third attachment shows northern Forest Hills, where Cord Meyer created an alphabetic grid from Atom to Zuni. Notice how the proposed grid marches over the meandering Flushing River. Thankfully, Robert Moses was able to save the river as part of the 1939 World's Fair plan.
The lesson here is clear, grids are ugly. Neigborhoods without grids, such as Waldheim, Jamaica Estates, Bayside Gables, Forest Hills Gardens, and Malba have a certain charm and sense of history, while places like Utopia and HIllcrest have the monotony of the numbered grid. I apologize in advance for offending your Hillcrest readers. Grid-defying such as Apex Place, Hawtree Creek Road, and Jackson Mill Road deserve to be preserved. Often, these streets are their neighborhoods' last link to a time before the ugly grid was imposed on our borough.
Also note that while a strict rectangular grid can be ugly, its polar opposite- a Levittown street maze can also be a problem.