Marker Monday: The Landing of Oglethorpe and the Colonists

In honor of the 2016-2017 Georgia History Festival, “A State of Innovation,” the September #MarkerMonday posts will focus on Georgia historical markers that tell the story of James Edward Oglethorpe and the founding of the colony of Georgia. Over the course of the month, these posts will delve into General Oglethorpe and his innovative approach to founding the colony of Georgia.

Image Credit: Mike Stroud

This week’s #MarkerMonday highlights Oglethorpe’s arrival in Georgia and his unique city plan. On February 12, 1733, James Edward Oglethorpe and approximately 114 colonists landed on the bluff of Savannah. Situated on the bluff overlooking the Savannah River, the town site was selected by Oglethorpe in friendly negotiation with Tomo-chi-chi, chief of the Yamacraw Indians, and with the interpretive skills of Creek Indian Mary Musgrove and her husband, owner of the Indian Trading Post in Savannah. The City of Savannah was laid out by Oglethorpe’s innovative city plan, which focused on the organization of building lots and streets to form a series of public squares. Streets and building lots were organized around a square, creating a ward.

View of Savannah as it stood on 29th of March 1734, drawn by Peter Gordon Georgia Historical Society Map Collection, MS1361-MP.

Oglethorpe originally designed the wards as urban neighborhoods with direct correlation to garden and farm lots in an expanded regional plan. He also planned the streets bordering the wards to allow for uninterrupted traffic and a series of internal streets that intersected at the ward’s square. Oglethorpe’s design for the city of Savannah was used in the city’s construction for more than 100 years after its founding. The design also influenced other settlement proposals in Georgia such as Ebenezer, Darien, and Brunswick, and Radnor in South Carolina. Today, the city plan continues to provide inspiration, such as the Bois-Franc development in St. Laurent, Quebec, as the plan adapts well to the contemporary needs of urban development.

Explore the links below to learn more about James Oglethorpe and Savannah’s city plan.
GHS is proud to house a significant collection of materials related to James Edward Oglethorpe and Georgia’s colonial history that can be found by searching the GHS' online catalog.

Full Marker Text
Today in Georgia History
Sophia’s Schoolhouse’s “Get to Know James Edward Oglethorpe” Videos
New Georgia Encyclopedia (James Edward Oglethorpe)
New Georgia Encyclopedia (Savannah City Plan)
Bois-Franc development in St. Laurent, Quebec website
Georgia History Festival

Further Reading
Wilson, Thomas D. The Oglethorpe Plan: Enlightenment Design in Savannah and Beyond.
Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012.