In the 1920s and 1930s Savannahians argued about the future of their world-famous town plan, with its many squares. Savannah's Lost Squares: Progress versus Beauty in the Depression-era South tells how one body of modern Savannahians—primarily young, white, male business owners—argued that the squares had to be altered—paved over for parking or cut open to allow highways to penetrate them—to accommodate the automobile. Their ideas were opposed by the majority of the city's residents, who, often led by women's groups, rallied to preserve the beauty and pedestrian character of the squares. Time after time, the "progressives" were defeated, and the squares largely endured until they came under the protection of sweeping preservation laws in the 1950s. But Nathaniel Robert Walker explains that in 1935, when economic conditions were dire, the financial might of the federal highway program combined with local racism to destroy three of Savannah's squares for the making of the Coastal Highway, a path for motorized modernity.

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