Revised Plat of the City of Zion, circa Early August 1833
Revised Plat of the , [, Geauga Co., OH], ca. early Aug. 1833; text and drawings in handwriting of ; two pages; CHL.One leaf measuring 15¼ × 17¾ inches (39 × 45 cm). The document contains graphite, ink, and watercolor. Light orange or yellow watercolor denotes the city streets. The document has one major vertical fold, tattered edges, and some tearing. The document also has some spotted discoloration. The original drawing of the central blocks featured the central houses in a square pattern with a large courtyard in the center of them. Likely after consulting JS, redrew the arrangement on a small piece of paper and then pasted it over the original two central blocks. This was completed before this plat was sent to . When this document was donated to the LDS church and by whom is unknown.
In late June 1833, drew a plat map with detailed explanations for laying out the in , Missouri. The sent the plat with an architectural plan for the and a letter to the leadership in Jackson County; the package arrived on 29 July 1833. The letter accompanying the plat instructed Missouri and other church leaders that “should you not understand the explanations Sent with the drafts you will inform us, so as you may have a propper understanding, for it is meet that all things should be done according to the pattern.” By August 1833, having drawn a new plat for , Ohio, the presidency of the high priesthood apparently saw errors in the pattern for the city of Zion and commissioned Williams to draw a revised plat, featured here, as well as a revised plan for the Missouri House of the Lord. , who had been in Missouri but had left before the original plat and architectural plan arrived, offered the only surviving explanation for the creation of the revised plat and plan. In a remark inscribed on the revised plan of the Missouri House of the Lord, Cowdery stated, “Those patterns previously sent you, per mail, by our brethren, were incorrect in some respects; being drawn in grate haste. They have therefore drawn these, which are correct. The form of the city was also incorrect, being drawn in haste. We send you annother.”The revisions to the plat reflect an evolution in Mormon city planning, offering more precision and some substantial changes, though the dominance and centrality of religious structures, which was a unique element in American urban planning, remained the same. Unlike the earlier version, the revised plat of the contained no detailed written explanations. The revised plat was drawn to cover a larger area than the original: 1.5 square miles compared to the original one square mile. Rather than forty-two ten-acre blocks and seven fifteen-acre blocks, this plat has 132 ten-acre blocks. Increasing the plat size to 1.5 square miles meant the addition of 1,624 lots, bringing the total number of lots from 976 up to 2,600, which would have more realistically accommodated the original projected city population of fifteen to twenty thousand by decreasing the per-dwelling occupation rate from an unrealistic fifteen to twenty persons to a more reasonable six to eight.Revisions to the city center were also made. The two central blocks, each containing twelve temples, remained the central focus of the city, but they were reduced from fifteen to ten acres. Each temple block retained the configuration of four temples across and three down. The revised plat, however, omitted a third central block that was to contain the ’s . With the exception of the two central blocks, each of the remaining 130 blocks contains twenty half-acre lots. Lot numbering begins with the block in the northwest corner (the map being oriented with north at the top), moves to the blocks south, and then continues column by column in the same manner, moving east.This revised plat is the first known Mormon city-planning map to include street names. The original plat called for sixteen 132-foot-wide streets, while this revised version has four 132-foot-wide streets (all of which border the two temple blocks) and twenty-one 82½-foot-wide streets. Thirteen streets run north to south, and twelve run west to east. Five streets border the central temple blocks: Zion Street, located north of the temple blocks; Jerusalem Street to the south; Bethlehem Street to the west; Kirtland Street to the east; and Chapel Street, which runs north and south between the two blocks. All of the other streets have names that feature an ordinal number and a cardinal direction; the street numbers increase as they radiate out from the temple blocks in each direction. For instance, the first numbered street east of the temple blocks is named First Street East.Before receiving the revised plans, wrote to on 13 August with some questions concerning the original plat and plan for the House of the Lord. His letter arrived in in early September, after Williams had revised the plat. JS responded to Partridge via a 4 September letter to , acknowledging receiving the letter and stating that the “brothern whom we have recently sent to will give them all the information they need about it.” Sometime after 18 August and before 4 September, and , following instructions from JS, left Kirtland for with letters, the revised plat of the , and the revised architectural plans for the . They arrived in Jackson County in late September.When these latest plans arrived in , saw a need to further revise the arrangement of the temples in the two central blocks; he drafted revisions by late September 1833. In November, renewed violence in , which culminated in the expulsion of church members, derailed any immediate plans to build the in accordance with any of the revised patterns.The following transcript presents a note by first, the cardinal directions second, and the street names third. The text found in the city blocks is then transcribed, one block at a time. The first block transcribed is the one in the upper left corner of the plat, which is the northwest corner; the transcript continues down that column and then proceeds from column to column moving from top to bottom and left to right. Two blocks contain inscriptions of buildings. The rest of the blocks contain only lot numbers, and instead of indicating each lot number individually for these blocks, the transcript presents the span of lot numbers found in each block in square brackets. The images in this transcript are oriented north-side up.
Bushman, Richard Lyman. Believing History: Latter-day Saint Essays. Edited by Reid L. Neilson and Jed Woodworth. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.
Hamilton, C. Mark. Nineteenth-Century Mormon Architecture and City Planning. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Historian’s Office. Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861. CHL. CR 100 93.
Knight, Newel. History. Private possession. Copy in CHL. MS 19156.