Columbia Star

1963        Celebrating 60 Years      2023

Columbia was not the first planned city

Columbia has much to be proud of, but being the first “planned city” is definitely not one of the reasons.

In 1680, to resolve a very large debt owed to his deceased father, the King of England gave William Penn a large piece of land in America, now known as Pennsylvania. In 1681, Penn sent his surveyor, Thomas Holme, to Pennsylvania to lay out a new city, and Holme platted Philadelphia on level, dry land between the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. By 1682, Penn was selling lots, and the city developed quickly. This is over 100 years before Columbia.

In 1733 Savannah, as well, was laid out as a planned city, to serve as a trading post and port for the southernmost British Colonies, and to protect Britain’s southern flank from the Spanish forces in Florida.

I’ve heard other people say this same statement about Columbia being “the first planned city,” but it is just not true.

Henry Nechemias

Columbia, SC

Editor’s note:

You are exactly right about Philadelphia and Savannah, however, both of these cities were in British colonies. Philadelphia’s downtown was altered more than 100 years ago with the diagonal Benjamin Franklin Parkway, but Savannah’s remains virtually intact. Both cities are indeed beautiful and historic. Columbia was the first planned city in the United States of America, hence our claim. Columbia’s city plan remains in effect to this very day and has guided, by intent and by accident, development in Columbia ever since 1786. Spanish St. Augustine (1565), which began as a fort, and French Quebec, (1608) which began as a trading post, might be considered the earliest continuously settled European “cities” in North America.

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