Plat of the City of Zion, circa Early June–25 June 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Explanation— This p[lot] [con]taines one mile square all the squares in <​the​> plot containes ten acres each being 40 rods square you will observe that the lots are laid off alternate in the squares in one square runing from the south and North to the line through the middle of the square and the next the lots runs from the east and west to the middle line each lot is 2 4 perches pe[rc]hes, in front and 20 back making ¼ of an acre in each lot so that no one street will be built on intire<​ly through the street​> but one square the houses 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 40 perches by 60 being twenty perches longer than the others the long way of them being east and west and by runing all the lo[ts] [in] these squares North and south it makes all the lots in the City of one size the painted squares [in the] middle are for publick buildings the one without any figure is for store houses fo[r] [the] and to be devoted to his use figure one is for Temples for the use of the the circles inside of the square are the places for the temples you will see it containes twelve f[igures] 2 is for the Temples for the it also is to contain 12 Temples the whole square <​plot​> is s[upposed] to contain from 15 to 20 thousand people you will therefore see that it will require 24 building to supply them with houses of worship schools & none of these temples are to be smaller than the one of which we send you the draft this is to be built in square number marked figure one and to be built where the circle is which has a cross on it. On the north and south of the plot where the line is drawn is to be laid off for barns stables &c for the use 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 wisdom. On the North and South are to be laid off the farms for the agracultur<​i​>sts a sufficient quanty of land to supply the whole plot and if it cannot be laid off without going <​too​> great a distance from the city, there mus[t] also be laid off on the east and west where 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
[all the streets a]re of one width. being eight perches wide als[o the space round] the painted sq outer edge of the painted squares is [to be eight perches between] the Temples and the street on every side
The Scale of the plot is 40 perc perches to the inch
No one lot in this is to contain more than one hous & that to be built 25 feet back from the street lea 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 &c all the houses to be of brick and stone
Cardinal Directions
[Drawing of 49 city blocks in 7 rows and 7 columns]
Three Center Blocks
[Empty block]
1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9
10 11 12
13 14 15
16 2 17 18
19 20 21
22 23 24
[p. [1]]
The names of the temples to be built on [the pa]inted squares Nos. 7-8-9 <​10-11-12​> are to be called the house of the Lord for the after the order of Melchisedeck which was after the order of the Son of <​God​> upon Mount Zion City of the New Jerusalem Nos. 7-8-9 The Sacred Apostolical repository for the use of the Nos. 4-5-6 The holy Evangelical house for the of the holy order of God Nos— 1-2-3 The house of the Lord for the of an ensign to the nations Nos 22-23-24 house of the Lord for the presidency of the high priesthood after the order of Aron, a standard for the people Nos. 19-20-21- house of the Lord<​*​> the law of the Kingdom of heaven and Messenger to the people <​*​> for the priesthood high priesthood after the order of Aron) Nos.—16-17-18 house of the Lord for the in Zion Messenger to the church Nos. 13-14-15 house of the Lord for the in Zion helps in goverment underneath must be written on each house holiness to the Lord
NB. the Stars are to have the sentences placed to gether having committed an error in writing the sentence “for the high priesthood after the order of Aron[”] should be placed immediately after the house of the Lord. [p. [2]]


  1. 1

    TEXT: “p[page torn]”. Because of page tears, several words and characters are missing from this document. In such places, text has been editorially supplied. Here and in the following paragraphs, missing text has been supplied from the version of this document in JS Letterbook, pp. 38–41, unless otherwise noted.  

  2. 2

    The practice of dividing land into squares for settlement in territories northwest of the Ohio River followed guidelines set by the national government. In May 1785, the Continental Congress passed a land ordinance that divided the surveyed land into “townships of six miles square, by lines running due north and south, and others crossing these at right angles.” The ordinance stipulated that the plats of the townships be subdivided into square-mile sections. The one-mile-square city of Zion plat would have filled one section within a township. A typical mile-square plat might have sixty-four blocks, each containing ten acres including surrounding streets, which would make lots smaller than a half acre. As drawn, with forty-two ten-acre blocks and seven sixteen-acre blocks, the entire city of Zion, including all streets, would occupy nearly eight hundred acres, or about one and a quarter square miles. The measurements given on the plat of the city of Zion thus seem to sometimes be approximations or errors in calculation. (An Ordinance for Ascertaining the Mode of Disposing of Lands in the Western Territory [20 May 1785], Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 28, p. 375.)  

    Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789. 34 vols. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1904–1937.

  3. 3

    Forty square rods is equal to a quarter of an acre.  

  4. 4

    Instead of “¼ of an acre,” the JS letterbook copy has “½ of an acre.” According to the dimensions listed here, the lots would occupy eighty square perches or rods, which is equal to half an acre. The plat, however, contains several inconsistencies. As drawn, some of the blocks contain only eighteen lots, while others have twenty-two, rather than the twenty implicitly prescribed in the drawing and explanation.  

  5. 5

    The middle three blocks in this center row of blocks are painted sienna red and reserved for the twenty-four temples to built in the city; the other four blocks contain residential lots. According to the description here, these seven blocks in the center row of the plat measure forty by sixty perches, which amounts to 2,400 square perches, or fifteen acres, since an acre is 160 square perches. As drawn on the plat, the four residential blocks in this row have thirty-two lots each, but if these lots were to be equal in size to all other residential lots on the plat, which each measured half an acre, the size of these center-row blocks would need to be increased to sixteen acres. To keep lots in those blocks the same width and length as all the other residential lots in the city, which are all rectangular, the lots in this row all run north and south; none face east or west.  

  6. 6

    TEXT: Text shifts to bottom margin, below plat image.  

  7. 7

    Figure 2 refers to the painted square carrying a large numeral 2 between temples 16 and 17.  

  8. 8

    As drawn, the plat shows 976 lots on forty-six residential blocks.  

  9. 9

    For the entire projected population of at least fifteen thousand people to attend church at one time, 625 people would have to fit into each of the twenty-four temples. This figure more or less matches the seating capacity according to the specifications of the plans for the House of the Lord sent to Missouri with this plat; built according to plan and calculating one person per eighteen inches, the pews, choir seats, and pulpit seats together would hold approximately 696 people per temple. (See Plan of the House of the Lord, between 1 and 25 June 1833.)  

  10. 10

    Plan of the House of the Lord, between 1 and 25 June 1833.  

  11. 11

    In the central blocks, in the middle of the second row, the circle identified by the number 5 is denoted with a cross.  

  12. 12

    What the lines to the north and the south mean with regard to the placement of barns, stables, or other agricultural facilities is unclear, but assuming the plat is drawn to scale, these lines may indicate that such agricultural structures were to be a precise minimum distance of one block away from residences. The requirement for locating barns beyond the city perimeter reflects life in other period communities, in which “the problem of livestock odor and waste disposal” was a central concern. Therefore, “the concept of small farms outside the town was found in most communities in New England and in the trans-Appalachian settlements.” Cincinnati, for example, was established in 1789 with surrounding lands divided into four-acre farms. (Jackson, “Mormon Village: Genesis and Antecedents of the City of Zion Plan,” 228.)  

    Jackson, Richard H. “The Mormon Village: Genesis and Antecedents of the City of Zion Plan.” BYU Studies 17, no. 2 (Winter 1977): 223–240.

  13. 13

    TEXT: Possibly “plat.”  

  14. 14

    TEXT: Text shifts to right margin.  

  15. 15

    Eight perches is equal to 132 feet.  

  16. 16

    TEXT: Text shifts to left margin.  

  17. 17

    TEXT: Each of the following cardinal directions is surrounded by a hand-drawn box and appears, respectively, above, to the left of, to the right of, and below the plat, with the plat oriented east side up.  

  18. 18

    At this time, JS, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams composed the presidency of the high priesthood. (See Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90:6].)  

  19. 19

    See Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76:57]; Psalm 110:4; and Hebrews 7:11.  

  20. 20

    See Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:2].  

  21. 21

    This “sacred Apostolical repository” refers to a separate block provided for the bishopsstorehouses.  

  22. 22

    Since not all twenty-four temples were to be constructed at once, the presidency designated with a cross the circle identified by the number 5 as the location where the first House of the Lord, or temple, was to be built and sent detailed specifications for its construction. (See Plan of the House of the Lord, between 1 and 25 June 1833; and Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 25 June 1833.)  

  23. 23

    The name “holy Evangelical house” seems to relate to the high priests’ work as missionaries, since an evangelist was widely understood to be “a preacher or publisher of the gospel.” (“Evangelist,” in American Dictionary.)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

  24. 24

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 260 [Alma 13:16].  

  25. 25

    See Isaiah 5:26; 11:12; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 91 [2 Nephi 15:26].  

  26. 26

    See Hebrews 7:11. The “high priesthood after the order of Aron” seems contrary to the high priesthood (which was after the order of Melchizedek) that was understood to be in the church at this time. This designation probably refers to the bishopric, who presided in the lesser, or Aaronic, priesthood.  

  27. 27

    See Isaiah 62:10.  

  28. 28

    TEXT: This insertion is a correction made by Frederick G. Williams. The last line of the explanation transcribed here explains the correction. Williams apparently intended the text to read: “Nos. 19-20-21- house of the Lord for the high Priesthood after the order of Aron the law of the Kingdom of heaven and Messenger to the people.”  

  29. 29

    Priests, those ordained to the “high priesthood after the order of Aron,” were meant to be messengers “to the people,” while teachers, a lesser office in the Aaronic priesthood, were described as messengers “to the church.” The previous fall, a revelation made the following distinction between the respective functions of priests and teachers: “Behold the high Priest should travel and also the Elders and also the lesser Priests, but the Teacher and deacons should be appointed to watch over the church to be a standing minister unto the church.” (Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:111].)  

  30. 30

    Like the twenty-four temples listed here, the two sets of tiered pulpits that were to be built in the House of the Lord were labeled according to priesthood office, as shown on the temple plans sent to Missouri in June 1833. At one end, four tiers of pulpits, each with three seats, were to be built for, in ascending order, the deacons, teachers, priests, and presidency of the lesser priesthood. At the other end, four tiers of pulpits were for, in ascending order, the elders, high priests, bishops, and presidency of the high priesthood. The temple numbering in this paragraph follows that same pattern—the first three temples listed were for the elders, the next three for the high priests, and the third cluster for the bishops, with the highest numbers in the temple block for the presidency of the high priesthood. In the second block, the numbered temples were also assigned in ascending order to the deacons, teachers, priests, and presidency of the lesser priesthood. (Plan of the House of the Lord, between 1 and 25 June 1833.)  

  31. 31

    See Exodus 28:36; 39:30; and Zechariah 14:20.  

  32. 32

    These quotation marks have been editorially supplied for sense and do not appear in the copy of this letter found in JS Letterbook 1.