Peter Gordon, “A View of Savannah as it stood..the 29th of March..1734..."
“A View of Savannah as it stood..the 29th of March..1734...To the Honble The Trustees for establishing the Colony of Georgia in America; This view of the Town of Savannah is humbly dedicated by their Honours Obliged and Most Obedient Servant Peter Gordon.”
London, 1734, First state.
Engraved by P. Fourdrinier
Frame size: 29 1/2” x 34”
One other example known to exist at the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, Rhode Island
Gordon's exceedingly rare view depicts the city a year after it was founded. Before James Edward Oglethorpe even left England he had a plan for laying out the new colony. This plan was important militarily, because it would make the city easier to defend from the Spanish to the south and against potentially hostile Indians. Oglethorpe built the city around a series of squares, and laid out the streets in a grid pattern. Each square had a small community of colonists living around it, and had separate lots dedicated to community buildings. For each of the freemen who came to settle the new colony, Oglethorpe awarded 50 acres of land. This included a house lot in the city of Savannah, a five-acre garden lot outside of the city, and a 45-acre farm lot beyond the garden lots. The colonists usually lived on the city lot, thereby taking advantage of the safety of the city, and they worked their garden and farm lots for food and other resources.
Noble Jones was the first surveyor in the new colony and helped Oglethorpe fulfill his dream of a planned city. Oglethorpe also worked with Colonel William Bull to lay out the new city. Bull came from South Carolina, and also served as the city’s first architect, overseeing the design and construction of the earliest buildings. Oglethorpe and Bull originally laid out four wards in two rows along the Savannah River. The wards were directly correlated with the garden and farm lots located outside of the city, so communities were kept together both inside and outside of the city. Each ward centered around a square and had four tythings on the north and south sides of the square. Tythings were rows of house lots, ten lots long. On the east and west sides of the square there were trust lots that were used for public buildings such as churches or the courthouse. Today Savannah is one of the largest historic districts in the United States, and most of Oglethorpe’s original plan remains.
Only a few squares were developed while Oglethorpe lived in Georgia, but city leaders faithfully followed his plan for decades after he returned to England. The city grew to the south and at one point the city was made up of 28 squares. Oglethorpe used a similar city plan for other early Georgia cities.
This is without doubt the earliest and rarest view of the city of Savannah, and the earliest view of any Southern city.
The work is illustrated in countless scholarly reference books on Georgia history, cartographic history and urban planning. It is an icon of the South and one of the most significant works relating to American urban planning.
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