No matter what subject area you teach, you will definitely enjoy weaving this site into your lesson. If you have been to New York (Manhattan), have you ever wondered how the layout of the streets change after Wall Street? South of Wall Street is very European (a bit hard to follow without a map due to the irregular shapes of blocks among other things), but when you leave that area, you can navigate with ease. In fact, one might argue that for the most part, it is quite difficult to get lost.
This link shows the development of Manhattan's unique grid layout over 200 years.
Now, what might your students do with such information? If they are US history students (ELLs especially), they might contrast Manhattan in 1800 with Manhattan 2012. Bubble maps work or simple T-charts. How about having them create a Manhattan without the grid setup? How might this have affected the present status of the city? Would it still be the jewel of the US that it is now? Why or why not?
If the class is world history, would the Dutch style have possibly stymied growth and progress? Why or why not? Explain.
Teachers could then have students select any city of the world and look at its growth and development over time. Did the city layout help or hinder growth and prosperity? Why or why not? Explain.
Here is the complete ARTICLE. Your more advanced students might like to try reading this. For ELLs and those who generally need assistance, you could provide guided reading questions to help them process the material. As the teacher, pull out only the most important vocabulary words ELLs would absolutely have to know to benefit from the information presented.
As an end activity, why not have them in groups of 4, create a model of what they think a big city will look like in 2212. They could then justify their changes in writing (differentiate here according to their English levels). To get them started, you might ask them to think how a metropolitan center would have to changed to accommodate a tripling of its population. How will this affect schooling, traveling, working, etc.? Do some think alouds ("hmm...I think schools, as we know them, will have to change. Maybe students will have to attend class in their homes. What do you think?") to get them started and then interact with each group as they create their future cities (with justifications for every feature they add).