Downtown Squares, Downtown Savannah, Savannah, GA

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LA 272 2008


Context view, Savannah Squares.jpg

Downtown Savannah, Georgia.

Downtown squares Savannah.jpg

Downtown Savannah, Georgia. The purple area is the marked historic district of Savannah. Squares are highlighed in green.


CAD map of City Grounds park area outside of the Civic Center, Downtown, Fargo


Location in the United States.



Example of a square's location to streets and blocks.



Downtown Savannah, Savannah, Georgia

"The Hostess City"

Population (2001): 131,500

(nearly 53% female, 47% male)

Receives 5.5 million visitors per year

Median resident age- 32.3


57% black

38% white

2% Hispanic

3% other

Household Income

Estimated median household income in 2005: $30,887 (it was $29,038 in 2000)

Savannah $30,887

Georgia: $45,604

Estimated median house/condo value in 2005: $108,100 (it was $78,500 in 2000)

Savannah $108,100

Georgia: $147,500

Median gross rent in 2005: $717.

Percentage of residents living in poverty in 2005: 22.8%

(14.4% for White Non-Hispanic residents, 27.4% for Black residents)

Elevation: 42 feet

Land area: 74.7 sq miles

Pop. density: 1,718/ square mile (Fargo is 2,385)

46 feet above sea level

Average annual temp: 66 degrees

Average annual precip: 49 inches

General Info

Savannah was founded in 1733, by General James Oglethorpe. General James Oglethorpe was the founder of the downtown squares of Savannah. In the original plan called for only 6 squares, but with the expansion of the city, the amount of squares was expanded upon as well to create a current 24 squares. The Squares are 200ft from north to south and vary in size west to east. The maximum square is 300. Each square can be accessed from eight different roads; three from the east and the west and one from each the north and south direction.

In the square mile of downtown, there are 530 intersections. The Squares inspired the historic preservation movement in Savannah. This movement has restored and preserved thousands of buildings in the past 50 years. The city reclaimed Ellis Square in 2004 and will convert the square from a parking lot to more public uses. SCAD is working with the city in collaboration of created a new square called Elbert Square which will use some of the land of the original square before it was lost to the civic center.

The Downtown Squares of Savannah is successful in many ways. Savannah is a leisurely place and very pedestrian friendly. Pedestrians have the right of way throughout the entire historic district and can easily access the squares. Trolley’s, horse-drawn carriages, bikes, scooters, and pedicabs are also common ways to navigate throughout the squares. As soon as one leaves a square, they come within visible contact of another square.

These squares are one of the best examples of parks that are devoted to created spaces that reflect their cultural identity. Oglethorpe’s plan was to create public squares that were surrounded by places built for mixed uses. The squares can be rented for private activities, such as weddings, luncheons, and so on. Surrounding the squares are government buildings, like the post office, Federal Courts, state and local offices, and the Red Cross. Cultural institutions like the Telfair Museum of Art, the Lucas Theatre, and the Savannah Theatre. 13 churches and synagogues surround the squares. The Savannah College of Art and Design is located near the squares. SCAD has invested $78 million dollars to restore or renovate 58 buildings in the district. Because these squares are surrounded by many buildings of many uses, it is nearly impossible to avoid the squares.

Savannah can continue to claim (with a bow to Auden) that her squares are

Her North, her South, her East and West,

Her working week and her Sunday rest,

Her noon, her midnight, her talk, her song.

The Designer

General James Oglethorpe (December 22 1696 – June 30, 1785). Born in Godalming, County Surray, England. He arrived in the United States in 1732.

Designs for Ellis, Johnson, Telfair and Wright were completed in 1733. Oglethorpe's plan called for six squares and although he was around only to see the first four squares, Reynolds square was completed in 1734 and Oglethorpe's square was built in 1742.

Design/Programmatic Goals

The intent of this design was to create a comfortable atmosphere for the civilians of the newly formed city of Savannah. General Oglethorpe wanted to integrate the squares in the town to have gathering spaces to converse and play.

The Squares

Johnson Square – 1733. First and the largest square. Dedicated to Governor Robert Johnson of South Carolina. Johnson square has two fountains and a sundial dedicated to Colonel William Bull. Nathanial Greene and his son are buried under this square. Holds music funtions.

Wright Square- 1733. The second square established of the original four. It was first named Percival square for lord Percival, the man who named Georgia. Later, in 1763 the square was renamed after James Wright, the last of Georgia’s royal governors. This square is also the burial site of Oglethorpe’s close, and trusted friend, Tomochichi. Tomochichi was the leader of the Creek nation of Native Americans. In 1883, a monument dedicated to William Gordon replaced the Tomochichi’s monument. Tomochichi was given a new monument in the southeast corner of the square that eulogizes the friendship between Tomochichi and Oglethorpe. Holds music funtions.

Ellis Square - 1733. This Square was named after the second royal governor of Georgia, Henry Ellis. This square was also known as the market square, and the destruction of the square and the marketplace that stood there, gave way to the historic preservation movement. In 2006, the parking garage was demolished and is being rebuilt underneath the square. While atop the square, there is going to be space for public concerts and other event gatherings.

Telfair Square – 1733. Telfair Square originated as St. James Square after a famous London green space; but was later renamed to honor the Telfair family. It is the only square to honor a family rather than an individual person.

Reynolds Square – 1791. Reynolds Square was named after the unpopular governor of Georgia. In the square is a statue of John Wesley, founder of Methodism.

Oglethorpe square – 1742. Named to honor General James Oglethorpe, creator of the Squares in Downtown Savannah. In the square is a pedestal that honors the Moravian immigrants who arrived with John Wesley.

Washington Square – 1790. Washington Square was named after President Washington, who visited Savannah in 1790. This square was the site of the Trustee’s Garden

Franklin Square – 1790. The Square was named after Benjamin Franklin served as an agent for the Georgia Colony. Since this was the where the water supply was held, the square was also known as, Water Tank Square.

Warren Square – 1791. Warren Square was named after General Joseph Warren. Joseph Warren was the President of the Provincial Government of Massachusetts. He was also a Revolutionary War here who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Columbia Square- 1799. \Was named for Colombia, the poetic personification of the United States. The ‘rustic fountain’ that lies in the square was moved from the Wormslow estate, owned by one of the first Georgian residents in 1970.

Greene Square - 1799. Green Square was named after Nathanael Green, who aided George Washington, and commanded the southern forces during the Revolutionary War.

Liberty Square - 1799. Liberty Square was named to honor the Sons of Liberty and the victory of the Revolutionary War. On the square lies the “Flame of Freedom” sculpture. (Lost Square)

Elbert Square – 1801. Named after a Revolutionary Soldier, sheriff of Chatham County, and governor of Georgia, Samuel Elbert. (Lost Square)

Chippewa Square – 1815. Named in honor of the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Chippewa in the war of 1812. A bronze statue of James Oglethorpe lies within the square.

Orleans Square – 1815. This square commemorates General Andrew Jackson’s victory in the Battle of New Orleans. The German memorial Fountain in the centre of the square represents the German Immigrants to savannah.

Lafayette Square – 1837. Marquis de La Fayette was a French hero of the American Revolution. A fountain commemorates the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Georgia Colony. This is the site of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration, where the fountain is dyed green.

Pulaski Square - 1837. Named after General Casimir Pulaski, was a shelter for the many homeless people.

Madison Square – 1837. Named after the 4th President James Madison. A statue was erected celebrating William Jasper who retrieved his company’s banner.

Crawford Square – 1841. This Square was named after Secretary of the Treasury William Crawford, born in Savannah. This is the smallest of 24 squares. During the Jim Crow Laws, this was the only square where African Americans were allowed. This is also the only square where the fence still remains. This square has a basketball court, gazebo, and playground facilities.

Chatham Square - 1847. This was named after William Pitt, the 1st Earl of Chatham. He was an early supporter of the Georgia Colony.

Monterey Square – 1847. This Square commemorates the Battle of Monterrey during the Mexican – American War. A monument of Pulaski is erected there, and an unknown revolutionary soldier is said to be buried there.

Troup Square - 1851. This Square was named after Georgia Governor, Congressman, and Senator, George Troup. In the square lies a large iron armillary sphere supported by 6 metal turtles. A dog fountain is located to the west of the square; the Myers Drinking fountain was a gift from mayor Herman Meyers in 1897 and adjusted for animal use.

Calhoun Square – 1851. This Square honors Secretary of War, Secretary of State, and Vice President, John C. Calhoun. This is the only square where all of the original buildings are intact.

Whitefield Square – 1851. This Square was named after George Whitefield an English Clergyman, and founded a home for orphans. This square became the first burial ground for African – Americans in Savannah.


The downtown Squares are an obvious success. The original squares were designed in the 1730’s and are still around today and are being preserved and restored.

The squares are able to hold many people and for various functions and recreation. Some squares have certain dedications, such as Johnson and Wright get used for music functions.

The squares are very pedestrian friendly. There are over 500 intersections, with pedestrians having the right-of-way. The squares are also in the middle of an intersection, meaning vehicles must go around the park to continue on their way, making it a more leisurely trip with slower speeds for safety. There are also many other ways to get to the squares besides vehicles, not only walking, biking, rollerblading, but services, such as pedi-cabs and horse-drawn carriages.

This park is a success because of its cultural identity to the area. This area inspired the historic preservation movement in Savannah. Oglethorpe’s plan is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. In 1994 the Savannah city plan was nominated by the Federal Interagency Panel to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The general consensus throughout the city is that the squares are the heart of the city. The squares were so successful that community built 18 new squares since the original six and there are plans in the works to build a new square.

Fargo Park

City Grounds, South of the Civic Center, downtown.

Approx. 51,260 square feet. (average square in Savannah is about 40,000 square feet)