The Squares of Savannah, Georgia

One of our favourite things to do in Savannah was simply walk around the historic district and visit the city’s beloved squares. Resting in the shade of giant oak trees, we’d talk to locals, enjoy the music of talented buskers and learn about Savannah’s history from the many monuments on display.

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Johnson Square

Savannah’s historic district is built on a grid system, making it easy to get around and visit the squares. We would just wander up and down the blocks, stopping when we came to a square, which was never too long of a walk.

Of Savannah’s original 24 squares, 22 remain. Even with 3 days in the city, we didn’t get a chance to visit all the squares in Savannah but we still managed to enjoy quite a few!

Here’s a look at the mossy, historic beauty of the squares of Savannah!

Historic Squares of Savannah

Savannah’s squares date back to 1733, when General James Oglethorpe founded the city and laid out plans for the city’s grid design. To this day, the squares of Savannah remain the heart and soul of the city.

Johnson Square

Johnson Square was the first, and largest, of Savannah’s squares. It is named after Robert Johnson, who was the colonial governor of South Carolina when Georgia was founded.

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Prominently placed in the centre of the square, is an obelisk for General Nathanael Greene. General Greene was a Revolutionary War hero and Savannah patriot who died in 1876.

My favourite thing about Johnson Square was how the huge oak trees created a canopy over the square. There’s something really calming, yet mysterious about those trees. Either way, I loved staring up at their thick, crooked branches.

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Besides the obelisk and beautiful trees, Johnson Square also has two fountains and a sundial dedicated to Colonel William Bull. Bull helped Oglethorpe establish Savannah by surveying the land and laying out the original street grid.

Franklin Square

Franklin Square was established in 1791 and is named after Benjamin Franklin, who served as an agent for the colony of Georgia from 1768-1778.

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The square used to be the site of the city’s water tower, but today is home to a memorial for Haitian volunteers who fought during the Siege of Savannah.

Monterey Square

Designed in 1847, Monterey Square commemorates the Battle of Monterrey (1846) during the Mexican American War.

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The square has a large white column dedicated to Casimir Pulaski, a Polish nobleman and military general. Pulaski died after being seriously wounded during the Siege of Savannah in 1779. It’s said that a body of an unknown Revolutionary soldier is buried beneath Pulaski’s monument, but some believe that this could be Pulaski himself.

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Monterey Square was one of our favourite squares in Savannah because we enjoyed the stories we heard about it during a ghost tour we went on. Another draw is that the square is across from Savannah’s most famous (and interesting) house- the Mercer House. Both the Mercer House and Monterey Square were featured in the novel and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Calhoun Square

Calhoun Square dates back to 1851 and was named after John C. Calhoun, a South Carolina statesman and Vice President of the United States.

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What makes Calhoun Square stand out from all the rest is that it’s the only square with all of its original historic buildings.

Lafayette Square

Lafayette Square honours Marquis de Lafayette, who aided the Americans during the Revolutionary War.

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It was designed in 1873 and features brick sidewalks and a central fountain commemorating the 250th anniversary of the founding of the Georgia colony.

Wright Square

Wright Square was the second of Savannah’s squares and is named after Sir James Wright, the last colonial governor of Georgia.

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The monument in this square is dedicated to William Washington Gordon, an early mayor of Savannah and the only native Savannahian honored with a monument in one of the city’s squares.

Wright Square is also the burial site of Tomochichi, a trusted friend of James Oglethorpe and Chief of the Yamacraw Indians.

Orleans Square

Orleans Square was established in 1815 to commemorate the victory at the Battle Of New Orleans during the War of 1812.

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There is a small fountain here that recognizes the contributions of early German immigrants to Savannah.

Chippewa Square

Chippewa Square was designed in 1815 to commemorate the Battle of Chippawa during the War of 1812. Being Canadian, we thought it was quite the discovery to find a square in Savannah named after a place in Canada!

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I did find it odd though that this square has a statue of General James Oglethorpe. I thought it would be better placed in Oglethorpe Square, which was named after him.

You may recognize Chippewa Square from movie Forrest Gump. The bus stop scenes were filmed on the north end of the square. You won’t find the park bench here though- it was a prop.

Madison Square

Established in 1837, Madison Square is named after the fourth president of the United States, James Madison.

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In the centre of the square is a statue of Sergeant William Jasper, shown heroically retrieving his company’s banner, even though he was mortally wounded, during the Siege of Savannah.

Tips for Visiting the Squares of Savannah

  • The squares of Savannah are part of the historic district and fall within an area of less than one half square mile, making it easy to see many of them on foot.
  • We recommend starting at Johnson Square, not far from City Hall and the riverfront. From there you can walk up Bull Street and see many squares en-route to Forsyth Park. You can also detour a few blocks off Bull Street to easily see some of the other squares.

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  • Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine - This is exactly what I picture when I think of Savannah! I’ve actually just had family move into the area, so I’ll have to head down soon. It looks like my camera wouldn’t have a very tough time capturing beauty here. :) Thanks for the tour!March 29, 2016 – 7:53 amReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - Yes, you should definitely try and make a visit! We loved the city and surrounding area and would go back again in a heartbeat. And you’re right, there will be no trouble getting good pictures here. Savannah is very photogenic!March 29, 2016 – 9:09 amReplyCancel

  • Jane - Someone sent me your article because I live in Savannah. (I’m not a “native” though — moved here 10 years ago.) As a resident of downtown, I continually appreciate the beauty of the squares, being surrounded by trees (and interesting architecture) in the midst of a lovely and convenient urban center. We still benefit from Oglethorpe’s original layout.

    Two notes: If you liked the oak canopy in Johnson Sq., then I hope you made it to Pulaski Square (on Barnard St. — not the same square that has the Pulaski monument, on Bull St.). Pulaski has a very consistent oak canopy but is more residential than Johnson Sq. Other thing: as you noted, monuments honoring a certain dude are not located in the square named after same dude(e.g. Oglethorpe statue is not in Oglethorpe Sq., Pulaski monument is not in Pulaski Sq.). The reason, I think, is that naming squares and erecting monuments happened at different times. Apparently it was desirable to place the statues, etc. in the central axis — i.e. the squares of Bull Street — regardless of whether a square on some other street was already named after the same figure being honored by the monument.

    Thanks for your attention to Savannah.April 1, 2016 – 3:35 pmReplyCancel

    • Rhonda Krause - Hi Jane! No, we didn’t make it Pulaski Square, unfortunately. We tried to visit as many squares as we could, but found ourselves spending a lot time just hanging out and enjoying them. They are so beautiful it would be a shame to just rush from square to square! That makes sense what you say about the naming of the squares. Still, it was kind of confusing for first-time visitors!April 5, 2016 – 5:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Ken Lau - Went to Savannah this past Labor Day week…on the day The Lady Chablis passed away…we visited all 24 squares and then some. It can be done.January 3, 2017 – 6:55 pmReplyCancel

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