In the beginning, it was 1818

May 13, 2013


The city of Sandusky is full of history. Let’s start at the beginning, 1818, when Sandusky was founded, roads and lots were laid out, and the first city plat was drawn. (There was an earlier township plat, in 1816, of smaller dimensions, called the “Portland Plat.” The city of Sandusky was established within the boundaries of what was known as Portland Township.) The original city boundaries were at Shelby Street on the west, Meigs Street and the bay shore on the east, the shoreline of Sandusky Bay on the north, and a line about 18 rods (99 feet) south of Monroe Street for the southern boundary. 

One of the more common questions asked about this map (other than “Why are there diagonal streets?”) is about the source of the names for the streets. Although it is sometimes difficult to determine the name origins of some Sandusky streets that were established more recently, the meanings of the names of the original city streets are easily determined. Some are simple to figure out: Columbus Avenue was of course named for Christopher Columbus, credited with discovering America; on Market Street were the sites of the city markets (one of which still exists today as the summertime farmers’ market); Water Street touched the shore of Sandusky Bay (but not today, obviously; more about that in the future). And, of course, the other east-west streets, starting with Washington Street (Washington Row was not yet established), were named for the Presidents of the United States -- ending with James Monroe, the sitting President in 1818. (This Presidential naming practiced continued for many later streets in Sandusky.)

But where did the names come from for the north-south streets? They were named for political and military leaders from the War of 1812 and the American Revolution. Some are easy to identify, such as Perry Street, named for Oliver Hazard Perry, the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie, but what about (for example) Shelby Street? Isaac Shelby was Governor of Kentucky, but more importantly, he led the Kentucky Militia in battle against Tecumseh’s forces during the War of 1812. Lieutenant Thomas Macdonough (note the spelling) defeated the British Navy on Lake Champlain in the same war. You might recognize Captain James Lawrence more for what he said: dying in battle, he told his men, “Don’t give up the ship” -- words used by Commodore Perry on a flag flown on the namesake USS Lawrence during the Battle of Lake Erie. Meigs Street is named after Return J. Meigs, Governor of Ohio during the War of 1812.

Other streets were named for Revolutionary-era heroes, including Warren Street, named for Dr. Joseph Warren who died in the Battle of Bunker Hill, Franklin and Hancock Streets, and the street named after General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, the victor of the Battle of Fallen Timbers in what is now Maumee. 



For some reason I don't know, Sandusky also celebrated a centennial in 1924.


Thanxs Ron. Don't forget the Masonic symbol represented in street lay-out also. Interesting. u-tube has a variant on this also.


I have found traces of my family in this area going back to the 1860's. So rich with history.


Also, Central Avenue from Jackson to Monroe Street was originally called MIami Avenue with its mirror image being Huron Avenue to the east. Lawrence street ran all the way to Depot Street where Central is now south of Monroe. Its comparable to Warren Street running North of Monroe at Huron Avenue. Does anyone know why there are two streets named Lane and are no where near each other or how come there is a Jackson Street Extension? It boggles the mind trying to find one's way through town if one doesn't live here.


Why is it Port Clinton was able to draw Tall Ships to their city this summer in commemoration of the War of 1812 but Sandusky could not or didn't at least try?


I love the history of this town. the beautiful buildings are amazing.
they were truly artists


Zolman Wildman laid out the first Plat in 1816. It was on July 4th 1818 that the Kilbourne plat was recorded in the Deeds record of Huron county in Norwalk. In 1824 The city of Sandusky was incorporated. That is why there is 6years between the plat and the city.