Joseph Smith

History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Period I. History of Joseph Smith, the Prophet by Himself. Volume I (Salt Lake City: Desert Book Co., 2ed. rev., 1961)

In 1830 the founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, sent missionaries from New York to preach to Indians in Missouri near the town of Independence in Jackson County. A year later Smith left Kirtland, Ohio where the Mormons had settled and journeyed to Independence. That July he announced a revelation from God: "This is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion." In 1832 Smith visited Independence again to meet with some 300 of his followers. The following June Smith sent from Kirtland a plat of the City of Zion that was to be located near Independence. That drawing included written specifications for the city and was accompanied by a letter with a further explanation of the design. The notes on the drawing specified that all streets were to 132 feet wide. These created square blocks of 10 acres measuring 660 feet on each side. A center tier of blocks containing the storehouse and temples was wider, with blocks that measured 660 by 990 feet. Each half-acre lot was 66 by 330 feet. Smith described the curious orientation of the lots that he arranged "so that no one street will be built on entirely through the street." This system called for lots that ran north-south flanked by blocks with lots oriented east-west. Each house thus faced the side of a lot on the opposite side of the street.
The plat contains one mile square; all the squares the plat contain ten acres each, being forty rods square. You will observe that the lots are laid off alternately in the squares; in one square running from the south and north to the line through the center of the square; and in the next, the lots run from the east and west to the center line. Each lot is four perches in front and twenty back, making one half of an acre in each lot, so that no one street will be built on entirely through the street; but on one square the houses will stand on one street, and on the next one, another, except the middle range of squares, which runs north and south, in which range are the painted squares. The lots are laid off in these squares, north and south, all of them; because these squares are forty perches by sixty, being twenty perches longer than the others, their greatest length being east and west, and by running all these squares, north and south, it makes all the lots in the city of one size.

The painted squares in the middle are for public buildings. The one without any figures is for store-houses for the Bishop, and to be devoted to his use. Figure first is for temples for the use of the presidency; the circles inside of the squares, are the places for the temples. You will see it contains twelve figures, two are for the temples of the lesser Priesthood. It is also to contain twelve temples.

The whole plot is supposed to contain from fifteen to twenty thousand people: you will therefore see that it will require twenty-four buildings to supply them with houses of worship, schools, etc.; and none of these temples are to be smaller than the one of which we send you a draft. This temple is to be built in the square marked figure 1 and to be built where the circle is which has a cross on it on the north end.

South of the plot where the line is drawn, is to be laid off for barns, stables, etc., for the use the of the city; so that no barns or stables will be in the city among the houses; the ground to be occupied for these must be laid off according to wisdom. On the north and south are to be laid off the farms for the agriculturist, and sufficient quantity of land to supply the whole plot; and if it cannot be laid off without going too great a distance from the city there must also be some laid off on the east and west

When this square is thus laid off and supplied, lay off another in the same way, and so fill up the world in these last days, and let every man live in the city, for this is the city of Zion. All the streets are of one width, being eight perches wide. Also the space round the outer edge of the painted squares, is to be eight perches between the temple and the street on every side. No one lot, in this city, is to contain more than one house, and that to be built twenty-five feet back from the street, leaving a small yard in front, to be planted in a grove, according to the taste of the builder; the rest of the lot for gardens; all the houses are to be built of brick and stone. The scale of the plot is forty perches to the inch.

The names of the temples to be built on the painted squares as represented on the plot of the city of Zion, which is now about to be forwarded thither:--numbers 10, 11, and 12, are to be called, House of the Lord, for the Presidency of the High and most Holy Priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek. which was after the order of the Son of God, upon Mount Zion, City of the New Jerusalem. Numbers 7, 8, and 9, the Sacred Apostolic Repository, for the use of the Bishop. Numbers 4, 5, and 6, the Holy Evangelical House, for the High Priesthood of the Holy Order of God. Numbers 1, 2, and 3, the House of the Lord, for the Elders of Zion, an Ensign to the Nations. Numbers 22, 23, and 24, House of the Lord for the Presidency of the High Priesthood, after the Order of Aaron, a Standard for the People. Numbers 19, 20, and 21, House of the Lord, the Law of the Kingdom of Heaven, and Messenger to the People; for the Highest Priesthood after the Order of Aaron. Numbers 16, 17, and 18, House of the Lord for the Teachers in Zion, Messenger to the Church. Numbers 13, 14, and 15, House of the Lord for the Deacons in Zion, Helps in Government.... 

Selected, scanned, edited, provided with headnotes, and formatted as a web document by John W. Reps, Professor Emeritus, Department of City and Regional Planning, West Sibley Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA. Tel: (607) 255-5391, Fax: (607) 255-6681, E-mail: 
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