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Interweaving country and city in the urban design of Savannah, Georgia

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The city of Savannah, Georgia, has been praised for its harmonious blend of rural and urban qualities. What is often forgotten, however, is that the urban plan that was finally realised in the nineteenth century differs fundamentally from the original plan created by James Oglethorpe. The changes made to the plan over about a century, moreover, reflect not only demographic and economic realities, but also changing attitudes about the relationship between the rural and the urban. This paper explores the transformation of the Savannah plan from the end of Trustee rule to the middle of the nineteenth century by focusing on the use of the town common as an expansion zone, the replication of wards and squares, and its systematic tree-planting programme. Savannah's urban plan and its garden-like qualities are as much products of this long process of transformation as they are of the founders' original vision. The resulting plan offers a model for weaving together city and country that is compelling and deserving of careful study by contemporary urban designers.
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Keywords: Georgia; James Oglethorpe; Savannah; agrarianism; common land; egalitarianism; garden city; trees; urban planning; utopia

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 April 2016

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  • The half-yearly journal Global Environment: A Journal of History and Natural and Social Sciences acts as a forum and echo chamber for ongoing studies on the environment and world history, with special focus on modern and contemporary topics. Our intent is to gather and stimulate scholarship that, despite a diversity of approaches and themes, shares an environmental perspective on world history in its various facets, including economic development, social relations, production government, and international relations.
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