Savannah, Georgia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jump to: navigation, search
Savannah, Georgia
Official flag of Savannah, Georgia Official seal of Savannah, Georgia
City flag City seal
City nickname: "The Hostess City"
Location of Savannah, Georgia
County Chatham
Mayor Otis S. Johnson
Physical characteristics
202.3 km²
     193.6 km²
     8.7 km²
     Total (2000)
304,000 (metropolitan area)
     131,510 (city)
     679.4 km² (1759.5 mi²)/km²
Latitude 32°05'00" N
Longitude 81°05'59" W
Time zone
     Summer (DST)
     EDT (UTC−4)
Official website: Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is a city located in (and the county seat of) Chatham County, Georgia. The city's population was 127,500 in 2004, according to U.S. Census estimates. Before 1970, Savannah was the second-largest city in Georgia. Today it is ranked fourth in population.

Savannah's metropolitan area, with a population of 304,000, includes three Georgia counties: Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham. (Hilton Head Island, in South Carolina, is not officially part of the Savannah metropolitan area.)

Savannah is located at latitude 32°05'00" North, longitude 81°05'59" West. Savannah was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia. It is also the primary port on the Savannah River and is located along the U.S. Intracoastal Waterway.

Savannah's architecture and history are internationally known, as is its reputation for Southern charm and hospitality. The city prides itself as the "Hostess City of the South". Savannah's downtown area is the largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States. Savannah is also noted for its St. Patrick's Day celebration, the second largest in the United States behind New York City.

Savannah is served by Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, near Interstate 95. The city is the home of three colleges and universities offering bachelor's and master's degree programs: Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah College of Art and Design and Savannah State University. Bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. programs in engineering are offered through the Savannah campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology. In addition, South University offers bachelor's degree programs in business-related areas.

As of 2004, the mayor of Savannah is Otis Johnson.

Residents of Savannah are known as Savannahians (pron. sa-VAN-e-yuns).



Like most cities, agriculture was the background of Savannah's economy in its first two centuries. Silk and indigo production, both in demand in England, were early export commodities; by 1767 almost a ton of silk was exported annually to England.[1]

The Savannah region's mild climate offered perfect conditions for growing cotton, which become the dominant commodity after the American Revolution. Its production (under the plantation system) helped the city's European immigrants to achieve wealth and prosperity.

Main article: Port of Savannah.

The port of Savannah was one of the most frequented in the United States and Savannah's inhabitants had the opportunity to consume the world's finest goods, imported by foreign merchants. Savannah grew to be one of the richest cities in the United States. Cotton was exported to places all over the world.

Savannah's port has always been a mainstay of the city's economy. In the early years of U.S. history, goods produced in the New World had to pass through ports such as Savannah's before they could be shipped to England.

For years, Savannah was the home of Union Camp, which housed the world's largest Paper Mill. The plant is now owned by International Paper, and it remains one of Savannah's largest employers.


Around 3500 BC, the Bilbo inhabited the area now known as Savannah. Thousands of years later, the Yamacraws settled here and in the 18th century AD under their leader Tomochici, they met the new arrivals. In November of 1732, the ship Anne sailed from Britain carrying 114 colonists, including General James Oglethorpe. On February 12, 1733, Oglethorpe and his settlers landed at Yamacraw Bluff and, in an example of some of the earliest "Southern hospitality", were greeted by Tomochici, the Yamacraws, and John and Mary Musgrove, Indian traders. (Mary Musgrove often served as a translator.) The city of Savannah was founded on that date, along with the colony of Georgia. Because of the friendship between Oglethorpe and Tomochici, Savannah was able to flourish unhindered by the warfare that marked the beginnings of many early American colonies. According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary (with etymologies), the name "Savannah" means "Shawnee"; it derives from a Muskoghean Indian word—a variant of the native name of the Shawnees. Georgia colonists adopted this name for the Savannah River and then for the city.

Savannah was the first planned city in America. Oglethorpe's Savannah Plan consisted of a series of wards built around central squares, with trust lots on the east and west sides of the squares for public buildings and churches, and tithing lots for the colonists' private homes on the north and south sites of the squares.

In 1738, Jews from Spain and Portugal arrived in Savannah. Over the next century and a half the city welcomed other non-British immigrants, and Savannah remains to this day one of the most cosmopolitan and diverse cities in the South. In 1740, George Whitefield founded the Bethesda Orphanage, which is now the oldest extant orphanage in the United States.

During the American Revolutionary War, Savannah came under British and Loyalist control in 1778. At the Siege of Savannah in 1779, American and French troops (the latter including a company of free blacks from Haiti) fought unsuccessfully to retake the city.

On January 27, 1785 members of the State Assembly gathered in Savannah to found the nation's first state-chartered, public university - The University of Georgia (located in Athens).

In 1818 shipping and business stopped when the city fell under quarantine due to a yellow fever epidemic. Many ships never came back to Savannah, dealing a harsh blow to the local cotton industry.

In 1864, the city was captured by Northern troops led by General Sherman. After taking the city General Sherman offered the captured city and port of Savannah to his Commander-in-Chief and telegraphed President Lincoln with the following messaage:

"I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty guns and plenty of ammunition, also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton."

In the 1930's and 40's many of the distinguished buildings in the historic district were demolished to create parking lots. Squares had been bisected by streets and fire lanes to speed traffic flow. The demolition of the 1870 City Market on Ellis Square and the attempted demolition of the 1821 Davenport House prompted seven Georgia women, led by Davenport descendant Lucy Barrow McIntire, to create the Historic Savannah Foundation, which was able to preserve the city from destruction. In 1979, the Savannah College of Art and Design was founded, and began a process of renovation and adaptive reuse of many notable downtown buildings, rather than building a centralized campus. This effort, along with the work of the Historic Savannah Foundation and other preservation groups, has contributed greatly to Savannah's now-famous rebirth.

Despite preservationists' efforts, some large modern structures have been approved within the boundaries of Savannah's historic district. The DeSoto Hilton Hotel opened in 1967 (replacing the legendary DeSoto Hotel, built between 1888 and 1890). The Hyatt Regency Savannah, overlooking the Savannah River, opened in 1980. Drayton Tower, a steel-and-glass high rise, was built in the 1950s. For many years it seemed out of place but is now becoming historic in itself. Plans are under way to convert the neglected structure into luxury condominiums.

The city's popularity as a tourist destination was solidified by the best-selling book and subsequent movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which were set in Savannah.

The city's location offers visitors access to the coastal islands and the Savannah Riverfront, both popular tourist destinations. Tybee Island, formerly known as "Savannah Beach", is the site of the Tybee Island Light Station, the first lighthouse on the southern Atlantic coast.

Geography and points of interest

Savannah is located at 32°3'3" North, 81°6'14" West (32.050706, -81.103762)1. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 202.3 km² (78.1 mi²). 193.6 km² (74.7 mi²) of it is land and 8.7 km² (3.4 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 4.31% water. Because of its marshiness and flat topography, Savannah is prone to flooding. Four canals and pumping stations have been built to help reduce the effects: Fell Street Canal, Kayton Canal, Springfield Canal and the Casey Canal, with the first three draining north into the Savannah River.

Georgia Queen riverboat cruising down the Savannah River, past the Savannah International Trade & Conference Center on Hutchinson Island.
Georgia Queen riverboat cruising down the Savannah River, past the Savannah International Trade & Conference Center on Hutchinson Island.

The Savannah International Trade & Convention Center is located on Hutchinson Island, across from downtown Savannah and surrounded by the Savannah River. The Belles Ferry connects the island with the mainland, as does the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge.


Green-Meldrim House
Green-Meldrim House

Savannah's historic district has 24 squares [2]:

  • Calhoun Square
  • Chatham Square
  • Chippewa Square
  • Columbia Square
  • Crawford Square
  • Elbert Square
  • Ellis Square
  • Franklin Square
  • Greene Square
  • Johnson Square
  • Lafayette Square
  • Liberty Square
  • Madison Square
  • Monterey Square
  • Ogelthorpe Square
  • Orleans Square
  • Pulaski Square
  • Reynolds Square
  • Telfair Square
  • Troup Square
  • Warren Square
  • Washington Square
  • Whitefield Square
  • Wright Square

The squares vary in size and personality, from the formal fountain and monuments of the largest, Johnson, to the playgrounds of the smallest, Crawford. Elbert, Ellis, and Liberty Squares are classified as the "lost squares," destroyed due to development in the 1950's. Elbert and Liberty Squares were paved over to make way for an extension of Interstate 16, while Ellis Square was demolished to build the City Market parking garage. Separate efforts are under way to revive each of the three lost squares. The city is currently preparing to raze the City Market parking garage in order to build a new parking facility underground, with a new park on the street level.

Historic sites

River Street shops and restaurants
River Street shops and restaurants
  • Riverfront Plaza and Factors' Walk—River Street's restored nineteenth-century cotton warehouses and passageways include shops, bars and restaurants
  • City Market—Savannah's restored central market features antiques, souvenirs, small eateries, as well as two large outdoor plazas
  • Historic homes—the Pink House, Juliette Gordon Low birthplace, Owens-Thomas house, Wormsloe plantation
  • Historic houses of worship—Trinity United Methodist Church (circa 1848), Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Christ Episcopal Church, First African Baptist Church, Independent Presbyterian Church, Lutheran Church of the Ascension, Temple Mickve Israel
  • Historic cemeteries—Colonial Park Cemetery (an early graveyard dating back to the English colony of Georgia), Laurel Grove Cemetery (with the graves of many Confederate soldiers and African American slaves) and Bonaventure Cemetery (a former plantation and the final resting place for some illustrious Savannahians)
  • Historic forts—Fort Jackson (near the historic district) and Fort Pulaski National Monument (17 miles east of Savannah via the Islands Expressway), both important in the Civil War


As of the census2 of 2000, there are 131,510 people, 51,375 households, and 31,390 families residing in the city. The population density is 679.4/km² (1,759.5/mi²). There are 57,437 housing units at an average density of 296.7/km² (768.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 57.08% African American, 38.86% White, 1.52% Asian, 0.23% Native American, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.93% from other races, and 1.30% from two or more races. 2.23% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 51,375 households out of which 28.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% are married couples living together, 21.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% are non-families. 31.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.45 and the average family size is 3.13.

In the city the population is spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 13.2% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 84.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $29,038, and the median income for a family is $36,410. Males have a median income of $28,545 versus $22,309 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,921. 21.8% of the population and 17.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 31.4% of those under the age of 18 and 15.1% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Interstates and major highways in Savannah

Interstate 95 - Runs North-South just west of the city, provides access to Savannah International Airport, and intersects with Interstate 16 which leads into the city center

Interstate 16 - Terminates in downtown Savannah at Liberty and Montgomery Streets, and intersects with Interstate 95 and Interstate 516

Interstate 516 - An urban perimeter highway connecting Southside Savannah at DeRenne Avenue with the industrialized port area of the city to the North, intersects with the Veterans Parkway and Interstate 16

Harry S. Truman Parkway - Runs through the Eastside of town connecting the east end of downtown with Southside Savannah. The road has been under construction since 1992, and is opening in phases with the latest phase opening in 2004. The highway will eventually complete a chain of highways that form a loop around the city that include Interstate 516, Veterans Parkway and the Truman Parkway.

Veterans Parkway - Links Interstate 516 and Southside/Midtown Savannah with South Savannah, intended to move traffic quicker from north-south by avoiding high-volume Abercorn Expressway

Abercorn Expressway (GA Route 204) - An extension of Abercorn Street that begins at 37th Street at its northern point and terminates at Rio Road and the Forest River at its southern point, and serves as the primary traffic and commercial artery linking downtown, midtown and southside sections of the city

Islands Expressway - An extension of President Street to facilitate traffic moving between downtown Savannah and the barrier islands, as well as the beaches of Tybee Island

Victory Drive (US-80) - Runs east-west through midtown Savannah and connects the city with the town of Thunderbolt, and the islands of Whitmarsh, Talahi, Wilmington and Tybee. Merges with the Islands Expressway and serves as the only means of reaching the beach by automobile.


Savannah International Airport is located west of Savannah off Interstate 95. Airlines serving this airport are Independence Air, Delta, Delta Connection, Northwest Airlink, Continential Express, United Express, U.S. Airways, Airtran and American Eagle. The first 30 mins of short-term parking is free

Amtrak operates a passenger terminal at Savannah for the Palmetto and Silver Service Trains running between Boston and Miami with three southbound and three northbound trains stopping at the station daily

Sister cities (aka twin towns)

People from Savannah

Savannah in literature

The non-fiction novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt is set in Savannah, and was later made into a film, directed by Clint Eastwood.

Savannah resident N.Y.W. Peacocke has completed two books of a trilogy that deal with the war of independence in Georgia, and particularly Savannah. Savannah Spell (ISBN 1898030510) and Mirror My Soul (ISBN 1898030618) weave a love triangle around the events of the Revolution in Georgia and Carolina.

Savannah in television and film

The following is based on a list assembled by the Savannah Film Commission [3]:

2004 Undertow



  • The Gift


  • The Legend of Bagger Vance


  • Forces of Nature
  • The General's Daughter



  • Wild America


  • Something to Talk About


  • Now and Then



  • Goldenboy
  • Love Crimes


  • The Rose and the Jackal
  • Flight of the Intruder
  • Glory


  • The Return of Swamp Thing
  • The Judas Project


  • My Father, My Son
  • 1969
  • War Stories


  • Pals


  • Solomon Northup Odyssey


  • All My Children
  • Tales of Ordinary Madness


  • The Slayer
  • White Death
  • Scared to Death
  • When the Circus Came to Town
  • Fear
  • East of Eden
  • Mother Seton


  • Gold Bug
  • The Ordeal of Dr. Mudd
  • Orphan Train
  • Hopscotch


  • The Double McGuffin


  • The Lincoln Conspiracy



  • Gator


  • One of the region's old nicknames is "the Coastal Empire." A new nickname is "The Creative Coast".
  • The communities of White Bluff are now within the city limits of Savannah.
  • Between 1960 and 1975, Savannah was one of the few Sunbelt cities to lose population in both the city and metropolitan area. This was due to the closing of Hunter Air Force Base in 1966 (later reopened as an army airfield) and the lack of new industry. This population trend has reversed, and since 1980 Savannah's metropolitan area has grown from 200,000 to 304,000, a healthy rate for any city in the Sunbelt.
  • The ZIP Codes for Savannah begin with the digits 314 .
  • Savannah has a reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the United States.
  • Johnny Harris is Savannah's oldest restaurant offering typical Southern cuisine and World Famous Bar-B-Que set in a historic and beautiful dining room, located on Victory Drive. All entrees are prepared under the supervision of Executive Chef Jamie Carver.
  • The Savannah Morning News is the city's daily newspaper.
  • The city hosts the Savannah Sand Gnats baseball club of the South Atlantic League.
  • A common joke about Savannah and the cities nearby is: "In Atlanta they ask you 'what do you do?' In Charleston they ask you 'who are you related to?' In Savannah they ask you 'what would you like to drink?'"

External links

Area colleges and universities

Commercial sites

Personal websites

Personal tools
In other languages