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Savannah Original City Plan
Dated: August 22 2017
One of Oglethorpe’s most enduring contributions was the development and implementation of an innovative CITY PLAN for Savannah, which included a grid iron street system and green space. Since a major fire in London destroyed the heart of the old city in 1666, designers proposed the idea of gridded streets and open squares or parks to promote a healthier, more reasonable and efficient way to plan a city. Green spaces and vistas also provided a sense of community among the residents living around them. Larger green spaces were also planned as public markets and public commons, places for public assembly a strategic sites for military defense.
Oglethorpe, who served in the European military, was likely familiar with the most recent layouts of defensive military camps which were designed to facilitate easy assembly of troops in secure open spaces.
Savannah’s city plan borrows from previous designs, but has offered many new and innovative features. It has the appearance of a new Enlightenment town with gridded streets and open squares, but it also offers spaces for strategic defense of the town. It is a system designed to realize results and to encourage equality due to the fact that residential lots and garden plots of the same size fostered a sense of equal responsibility among colonists.
Savannah’s city plan is strategically divided into WARDS, geometric zones which provide the structure and serve as the building blocks for the city’s unique urban design. In the center of each ward is a SQUARE, which is a green space for congregating and bivouacking troops to defend the residents of the ward. Four smaller blocks, referred to as TRUST LOTS, front the square on the east and west. The trust lots were set aside for public buildings and churches. The north-south street on which the square is centered provide the thoroughfare between the squares and the trust lots.
The four larger blocks on the north and south sides of the square are called TYTHINGS. They are further divided by east-west lanes. Each tything was divided into ten house lots of equal sizes. Each owner of a house lot was also entitled to a garden lot of five acres at the edge of town, and approximately 45 acres (minus the size of the garden lot) further out of town for large-scale farming (farm lots). Each ward contained 40 building lots facing the north or south, 10 on the streets bordering the squares, and 10 on streets forming the outer borders of the wards.
Excerpt is courtesy of Barbara C. Fertig
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