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As a result, traffic flows one way—counterclockwise—around the squares, which thus function much like traffic circles.Each square sits (or, in some cases, sat) at the center of a ward, which often shares its name with its square.
The original plan actually called for six squares, and as the city grew the grid of wards and squares was extended so that 33 squares were eventually created on a five-by-two-hundred grid.Some grand homes, such as the well-known Mercer House, stand on trust lots, while many of the residential lots have long hosted commercial properties.All of the squares are a part of Savannah's historic district and fall within an area of less than one half square mile.(Two points on this grid were occupied by Colonial Park Cemetery, established in 1750, and four others—in the southern corners of the downtown area—were never developed with squares.) When the city began to expand south of Gaston Street, the grid of squares was abandoned and Forsyth Park was allowed to serve as a single, centralized park for that area.All of the squares measure approximately 200 feet (61 m) from east to west, but they vary north to south from approximately 100 to 300 feet (91 m).The city of Savannah, Georgia, was laid out in 1733 around four open squares, each surrounded by four residential ("tything") blocks and four civic ("trust") blocks.
Once the four wards were developed in the mid-1730s, two additional wards were laid out.
1770 plan of Savannah showing the first six squares.
The Savannah River and "north" are to the bottom of the image.
In 2010, one of the three "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.
The squares are a major point of interest for millions of tourists visiting Savannah each year, and they have been credited with stabilizing once-deteriorating neighborhoods and revitalizing Savannah's downtown commercial district.