Most adults have heard the expression, “Small Town, USA.” It’s a general term to describe those minute communities that dot the country. The term itself brings to mind town squares, tidy rows of independent stores and street after street of homes. No matter where you live in the United States, when someone utters the phrase “Small Town, USA,” the odds are good you and the person standing next to you picture essentially the same thing.
Have you ever wondered why that is? Why are small towns and cities across the country all somewhat similar? Well, there’s a reason for that: it’s called a plat map.
Plat maps are integral to the setup and division of towns, cities and municipalities in Texas and throughout the U.S. Here’s how they function.
Dividing the United States
At the end of the 18th Century, the U.S. was a new nation with miles of unexplored land. Land surveyors were sent on expeditions to gain some sense of what was on it. The surveyors returned with extensive information and a thoroughly mapped section of the brand-new U.S.
To make the most sense of this alien territory, the land surveyors commissioned by the U.S. government divided the land into rectangles. These rectangles were used to chart landmarks and measure distances around the country. These divisions were known as plats. As a result, a scale map of these divisions was referred to as a plat map.
As the country expanded westward, more and more settlers wanted a town to call their own. The first plats were drawn in six-square-mile plots. These were further divided into 36 plots of one square mile each.
Plat maps in Texas are still widely used today. There is always a need for new towns, communities or subdivisions. Whenever a new town is incorporated, a plat map is drawn to illustrate the specific divisions between lots in the territory.
A plat map may also be drawn up for smaller-scale projects, like the erection of a subdivision. Contractors begin with a parcel of land and then divide it further into residential lots.
Plat maps make organization and assignment of ownership extremely easy, since individual plats (or subsequent lots) can be numbered.
To be certified, a plat map is a legal requirement if a piece of land is to be divided into lots or turned into a public location, like a park. They must be certified by a local governing body before they’re officially legal.
Your land surveying pros
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