Savannah In early 1733, James Oglethorpe scouted a location for Georgia’s first permanent settlement. Guinea Map He selected an elevated site on Yamacraw bluff, several miles upstream from the mouth of the Savannah River. The new town drew its name directly from the nearest major geographic landmark: Savannah. The settlement’s street plan was distinctive, calling for sizable public squares at frequent intervals. Today, these are still the town’s most recognizable and celebrated decorative features.
In the colonial era, they were used for a variety of practical purposes markets, public gatherings, and even places of refuge in times of war for people in outlying villages. Savannah, Georgia, a major Southern port just above the mouth of the Savannah River, was laid out in 1733 by James Oglethorpe into forty-lot wards, each centered on an open square. Beyond the downtown wards were gardens and farms for every colonist.
(Brown Brothers, Sterling, Pennsylvania) Physically, Savannah’s location appeared ideally suited to promote economic growth. The nearby native population offered opportunities for trade, and the waterfront could hold an estimated 400 vessels at once. However, Savannah was economically stagnant during its early years. The Native Country trade quickly shifted westward to the town of Augusta.