On our “free time” at Fitbloggin 14, I decided to get out and tour downtown historic Savannah by visiting all the Squares. This was my planned route:
My actual route ran:
The Squares History:
General James Edward Oglethorpe laid out the basic design of Savannah’s squares in 1733, shortly after his arrival here, creating America’s first pre-planned city.
It was laid out around four open squares, each surrounded by four residential blocks and four civic blocks. The layout of a square and eight surrounding blocks was known as a “ward”. The original plan, now known as the Oglethorpe Plan allowed for growth of the city and expansion of the grid.
There were 24 original squares, but three were were altered or demolished in the 20th century. In 2010, one of the “lost” squares, Ellis, was reclaimed.
Most of Savannah’s squares are named in honor or in memory of a person, persons or historical event, and many contain monuments, markers, memorials, statues, plaques, and other tributes.
Wright Square Also laid out in 1733, it was originally dubbed Percival Square, but was renamed in 1763 for Georgia’s third and last Colonial Governor, Sir James Wright. For many years it has been colloquially known as Courthouse Square.
Oglethorpe Square Laid out in 1742, it honors General Oglethorpe.
Franklin Square Montgomery Street at Congress (City Market). Established in 1790 to honor Benjamin Franklin. This square was nearly lost in the 1970’s, which saw the demise of Elbert Square, but was ultimately restored to its original state. Site of First African Baptist Church.
There is a fountain way over there in the background.
Greene Square Established in 1799, was named for Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene, who is buried beneath the monument on Johnson Square. (So he’s got his own square, but his statue-and body-are over on Johnson Square.)
Chippewa Square Named for the 1812 battle of Chippewa in Canada. An imposing statue of General James Oglethorpe is featured here. This is also the square made famous in modern days by the bench upon which Forest Gump sat in the movie of the same name. The bench isn’t there BTW, it’s in a museum.
So Oglethorpe has his own square, but his statue is here in Chippewa Square! Who’s on First?
Orleans Square Laid out in 1815, it honors the War of 1812 Battle of New Orleans.
Yes, a charming picture of this little boy’s tush ruining my photo. I didn’t have time to wait for him to stop splashing around. I was on a mission!
Lafayette Square This square, laid out in 1837, honors the Marquis de Lafayette, who visited Savannah in 1825 and spoke from the balcony of the Owens-Thomas House, which overlooks the square.
Pulaski Square Laid out in 1837, it is named for Count Casimir Pulaski, the Revolutionary War hero from Poland, who sacrificed his life in the 1779 Siege of Savannah.
I learned something here! In 1778, Savannah had been captured by the British. The siege consisted of a French-American attempt to retake Savannah from Sept 16 to October 18, 1779. On October 9 a major assault against the British siege works fall. During the attack, Polish nobleman Casimir Pulaski was mortally wounded. The siege failed, and the British remained in control of Savannah until July 1782, near the end of the war. (Pulaski’s monument is over in Chippewa Square.)
Reynolds Square . Honors Captain John Reynolds, Governor of Georgia in 1754.
Statue of John Wesley in Reynolds Square. No, he does not have his own square.
Crawford Square The square was named for William Harris Crawford, a Georgia senator, Minister to France, Secretary of War, and unsuccessful presidential candidate in the election of 1824.
Chatham Square Laid out in 1847 it honors William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham. Pitt supported the Americans against the king and criticized the harsh British policies in the colonies.
Chatham was right after Pulaski, on my way to Forsyth Park so I know I was there, I just can’t identify which pic it is!
Aha! Here’s proof!
Troup Square . It is named for a former governor of Georgia, George Micheal Troup. Featured here is a dramatic armillary sphere, an astronomical model with solid rings, all circles of a single sphere, which is used to display relationship among celestial circles. The square was established in 1851.
Well I was there, but I am not sure which picture corresponds to it..
It is named for the Reverend George Whitefield, an early minister in the colony, friend of John Wesley, and founder of the Bethesda Orphanage in 1740. The square was laid out in 1851 and was the last of the City’s squares.
I tagged 20 squares. It took me about 1.5 hours, I got a little turned around in Forysth Park. I also was extremely vigilant crossing streets, no music today! It probably helped that the parks were not crowded on a hot Saturday morning. Some squares were busy; other squares had just one or two people sitting on benches, enjoying the day.
It was a cool “speed” round tour of the Savannah Squares. It would be fun to go back and re-visit all the Squares again, in a more leisurely manner. Savannah is a very cool city to visit, I would like to see it again!