. . . romantic . . . mysterious . . . the sultry Southern belle
that is Savannah is waiting for you. Waiting to charm you with
her tree-filled squares and perfectly preserved old buildings,
captivate you with her past and her haunting natural beauty,
caress you with her warmth and Southern Hospitality. She's waiting
by the sea, on Georgia's historic coast and in the midst of
the delightful Lowcountry region that includes nearby Hilton
Head Island, Brunswick, Sea Island and the Golden Isles.
When General James Edward Oglethorpe and the 120 travelers of the good ship "Anne" landed on a bluff high along the Savannah River in February 1733, Oglethorpe named the Thirteenth and final American colony Georgia, after England's King George II. Savannah became its first city.
The plan was to aid the working poor in England, strengthen the colonies by increasing trade and serve as a buffer zone for South Carolina protecting it from the advance of the Spanish in Florida. Under the original charter, individuals were free to worship as they pleased and rum, lawyers and slavery were forbidden - for a time. Upon settling, Oglethorpe was aided by the native Yamacraw Indian chief Tomo-chi-chi. Oglethorpe and Tomo-chi-chi pledged their friendship and good-will, and the Yamacraw chief granted the new arrivals permission to settle Savannah on the bluff. The town flourished without warfare and hardship that stifled the beginnings of so many early American colonies.
Savannah is credited as being America's first planned city. Oglethorpe laid the city out in a series of grids that allowed for wide open streets intertwined with shady public squares and parks that served as town meeting places and centers of business. Savannah had 24 original squares with 21 still in existence.
With the growth of trade, and especially after the invention of the cotton gin on a plantation outside of Savannah, the city became a rival of Charleston as a commercial port. Many of the world's cotton prices we set on the steps of the Savannah Cotton Exchange, the building is still in existence today.
Rich and prosperous, pre-Civil War Savannah was praised by many as the most picturesque and serene city in America with grand oak trees dripping with Spanish moss and genteel people who exhibit exceptional charm. Residents built lavish homes and churches throughout the city that reflected the affluence of the times.
With the onslaught of the Civil War, the city suffered. In 1864, Sherman began his march to the sea, burning the city of Atlanta and everything else in their path on the way to the coast. Savannah was evacuated and avoided destruction. Upon entering Savannah, Sherman was so taken back by its beauty that on December 22, 1864, a legendary telegram was sent from Savannah and delivered to then President Abraham Lincoln, by which Sherman presented the city of Savannah to Lincoln as a Christmas present. With the arrival of Sherman's troops, the war was over for Savannah and a period of reconstruction would begin.
The post-war years brought about a new movement in Savannah in the realms of aesthetics, culture and economy. A group of concerned women organized in the 1950's to preserve historic structures threatened by the wrecking ball of urban renewal. The brave endeavor gave rise to the Historic Savannah Foundation who, since its inception, has saved multitudes of buildings whose beauty and appeal was the foundation of Savannah's charm. Savannah's Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and remains one of the largest historic landmarks in the country.
As the Millennium turned, Savannah experienced resurgence in tourism. The 1990's saw more than 50 million people visit Georgia's First City. Visitors revel in elegant architecture, ornate ironworks, fountains and lush green squares. Savannah's natural beauty is rivaled only by the city's hospitable reputation, creating one of the country's most popular vacation spots. Guest who come to our city are truly captivated by Savannah's charm, the richness of our heritage and all the activities the city offers every day of the year.
Savannah has more than 45 cultural and historical attractions to explore. Visit the past by re-living the first days of the colony at one of the area's only surviving examples of plantation life. Take a picturesque drive up the Avenue of the Oaks to Wormsloe Historic Site and journey back in time to see how Savannah's first settlers tamed the new wilderness. Track battles from the War of 1812 and the Civil War at Old Fort Jackson, Fort Screven and Fort Pulaski. Go back in time and visit eighteenth and nineteenth-century architectural excellence at the King-Tisdell Cottage, Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, Andrew Low House, Davenport House and Owens-Thomas House. Discover our many museums to learn about the contributions of Africans to the American tapestry at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum or visit one the South's oldest art museums, the Telfair Museum of Art.
With more than 45 cultural attractions, Savannah draws visitors who are in search of history, art, architecture and tradition. Tours depart from various points of the city and can focus on the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Negro Heritage, ghosts, the American Civil War, and nature and bird watching. River cruises and horse-drawn carriage tours add to the mix of historical tours.
But to sample the true charisma of Savannah one must walk the city streets and visit our 21 squares. Massive oaks, their branches veiled in Spanish moss announce you are in the true American South. Though beautiful year-round, our grassy commons explode with a breathtaking show of flower blossoms in March through June. Savannah's tropical climate is best in the spring when temperatures range from the mid-80s for highs and the mid-60s for lows.
If it's entertainment you seek, almost 200 city festivals a year offer thrilling activities for all. From jazz to art to the charms of the Georgia coast there is never a moment lacking an opportunity to enjoy the Savannah scenery, history and charisma that make this destination unique.
Savannah is home to two malls and a blend of shopping plazas with your choice of designer brands. In the Historic District, the cobblestones that line River Street are ready for visitors to explore the candy shops, art galleries and a number of nautical-themed apparel and gift stores. Move a couple of blocks south from River Street to City Market where art studios, galleries and specialty shops fill the two-block space. Discover Broughton and Bull streets, the heart of Savannah's antique district, where treasures of old are awaiting your unearthing.
Savannah is home to a multitude of cosmopolitan award-winning restaurants and Lowcountry cuisine! Excite your taste buds with true Southern flavor or sample some of Savannah's international cooking at one of the eclectic restaurants -- all with within walking distance of the Historic Downtown.
When the sun goes down, our history sleeps and the nightlife comes alive with concerts, theater and dance. Savannah has a variety of nightspots that feature cool Savannah jazz and blues, cigar bars, dance clubs and piano bars playing songs by Savannah's own Johnny Mercer. The best in bluegrass, swing music, dance hits from the 70s and 80s and every genre in between add to Savannah's diversity of entertainment.
Source: Savannah Convention and Visitor's Bureau. Visit them at www.visitsavannah.com