Fitzgerald Facts and Firsts

Fitzgerald is indeed one of the few truly planned cities in America. The layout is a logical progression. The core of the city, some 1,000 acres, was laid out in a perfect square. Intersecting avenues (Central and Main) divide the city into four wards, and wards are subdivided into four blocks. Each block had sixteen squares, making a total of 256 identical parcels.

Of the 256 parcels, four were set aside for schools, 12 for parks, 36 for business lots, and the remainder as residential lots. Each lot faces on a street and an alley, and each street and alley terminate at one of the four drives bounding the city. The streets are sixty feet wide, and the alleys are twenty feet wide in business zones and fifteen feet in residential areas.

On the original role of settlers, the following occupations were represented: butchers, bricklayers, teachers, bankers, restaurateurs, blacksmiths, retail merchants, carpenters, ministers, doctors, lawyers, and newspapermen.

Within one year, the community had been surveyed and laid out, with streets named and utility systems begun. At the end of 1896, the new city had two railroads, 25 miles of open streets, a bank, three newspapers, 250 businesses, and eleven churches.

The Lee-Grant Hotel was the largest
wooden hotel to be erected, and the
first work relief program in America.

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The Civil War roots of its pioneers were manifested in the design of the city. Streets are named for fourteen Generals:

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Robert E Lee

Confederates are:
Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, James "Old Pete" Longstreet, Braxton Bragg, A.P.Hill and John P. Gordon.

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Ulysses S Grant

Union leaders are:
Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, Philip H. Sheridan, George H. "Pap" Thomas, John A. Logan, and Joseph Hooker.

The surrounding drives are named for Civil War ships, two from each side: the U.S.S. Monitor and Roanoke and the C.S.S. Merrimac and Sultana. Today, citizens carry on that tradition as new streets are being named for battles and important figures in the war: Jeff Davis Highway, Lincoln Avenue, Shenandoah Drive, Bull Run Road, etc.

Ben Hill County was created in 1906 from parts of Irwin and Wilcox Counties. It was named for Benjamin Harvey Hill, U.S. Senator from Georgia, a Whig leader, and a staunch opponent of Reconstruction.

Fitzgerald, now a Georgia Main Street City, had the distinction and honor to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. The area includes all buildings, plaza parks and the historic brick streets in the downtown area.