Ask just about anyone what comes to mind when they think of Savannah, Georgia, and their response is likely to be her squares. It does not matter if they have visited the city or not, as images of the historic district fill the pages of coffee table books and interiors magazines, as well as appear on television home improvement shows and travel programs. "Savannah" means lush squares of live oak, Spanish moss, and fragrant flowers, each one surrounded by elegant townhouses neatly finished in pale shades of stucco with dark-colored shutters and decorative ironwork. These spaces seem beyond the touch of time, where the past pleasantly lives on through graciously appointed historic homes and picturesque monuments to military heroes and religious leaders. The actual history of Savannah's squares, meanwhile, remains as obscured by sweetly scented jasmine as the railings running along her patterned brick walks.;The 1830s to the 1850s witnessed tremendous growth in cities across the United States---Savannah, Georgia, was no exception. With geographic and demographic expansion came equally dramatic cultural changes expressed in the built environment. Using Savannah's ground rent books, city tax assessments, and local and federal census data, this thesis examines two transformative moments in Savannah's development. In 1837, her merchant-planter elite wielded its political, economic and social influence to maintain and expand a central district of squares on city-owned lands. Sixteen years later, the failed attempt to construct a new hotel during the summer of 1853 revealed rifts and tensions existing within this group over their visions for Savannah and their place in the cityscape. A century after the city's founding, Savannah's squares did not promote agrarian equality as Georgia's founders intended. Oglethorpe's town plan survived as long as it could incorporate new standards of urban living, succeeding as an exclusive residential area even as it posed significant challenges to commercial and retail development.