Photography by Bill Bosley
Savannah is the oldest city in the State of Georgia being established on February 12, 1733, when General James Oglethorpe and settlers from the ship Anne landed at Yamacraw Bluff on the Savannah River, where they were greeted by Chief Tomochichi of the Yamacraw Indian Tribe, and Indian traders John and Mary Musgrove. Chief Tomochichi is credited with helping establish a peaceful relationship with the early settlers which helped secure the establishment of the city. He is memorialized in Wright’s Square. The City of Savannah became the British Colonial Capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Savannah served as a strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the American Civil War. Savannah is today a busy industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport. Savannah's downtown area is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States. British troops took the city in 1778 during the Revolutionary War and did not leave the city until July 1782. As a prosperous seaport, Savannah was the prime objective of General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea. Early on December 21, 1864, local authorities negotiated a peaceful surrender to save Savannah from destruction, and Union troops marched into the city at dawn. Savannah's architecture, history, and reputation for Southern charm and hospitality are internationally known. Over 17 million tourists visited the city in 2015.
Savannah is served by the Savannah – Hilton Head International Airport. It is home to Gulfstream Aerospace, internationally renowned Savannah College of Art and Design, Hunter Army Air Base, and the second busiest shipping port on the East Coast, with projections to become the number one port on the East Coast within a few years. The historic district is one of the largest in the United States.
No visit to Savannah is complete without a sightseeing tour by horse-drawn carriage where the gentle “clip-clop” of horses, and sway of the carriage, transport you to Savannah’s colorful past. There are several carriage tour operators in Savannah including Historic Savannah Carriage Tours, Carriage Tours of Savannah, and Plantation Carriage.
The Port of Savannah, home to the largest single-terminal container facility of its kind in North America, is comprised of two modern, deepwater terminals: Garden City Terminal and Ocean Terminal. Garden City Terminal is the third busiest container handling facility in the United States, encompassing more than 1,200 acres and moving millions of tons of containerized cargo annually, behind only Houston and Los Angeles. Overall, the Port of Savannah is the second busiest port on the east coast. Savannah is the “Hostess City of the South.” Tug boats and large ships are a frequent site on the river.
Wormsloe Historic Site, known as Wormsloe Plantation, consists of 822 acres, only part of what was once Wormsloe Plantation, a large estate established by one of Georgia's colonial founders, Noble Jones (c. 1700-1775). The site includes a picturesque 1.5-mile oak avenue, the ruins of Jones' house built of tabby, a museum, and a demonstration area interpreting colonial daily life. The house was part of a network of defensive structures established by James Oglethorpe, founder of Georgia, to protect Savannah from a potential Spanish invasion. Jones subsequently developed Wormsloe into a small plantation, and his descendants built a large mansion at the site which they used as a country residence. The State of Georgia acquired the bulk of the Wormsloe Plantation in 1973 and opened it to the public as a state historic site in 1979.
Forsyth Park occupies 30 acres in the historic district. It is bordered by Gaston Street on the North, Drayton Street on the East, Park Avenue on the South and Whitaker Street on the West. The park, originally created in the 1840’s, contains walking paths, a café, a children's play area, a Fragrant Garden for the blind, a large fountain, tennis courts, basketball courts, areas for soccer and Frisbee, and home field for Savannah Shamrocks Rugby Club. From time to time, there are concerts held at Forsyth to the benefit of the public. The fountain at the north end of the park, pictured here, was added in 1858.
Savannah is one of only two cities in the country with a gold dome on City Hall, San Francisco being the other one. Built in 1901, the structure replaced the original 1799 building located on an impressive sight on Yamacraw Bluff overlooking the Savannah River. A spectacular architectural masterpiece, City Hall features a domed roof that rises 70 feet. It was originally made in copper but was gilded in 1987 with sheets of 23-karat gold leaf. Inside, City Hall is just as impressive with a gorgeous dolphin fountain and other unique features including the buildings original business directory listing most of the administrative offices. The second floor of the building is home to the Mayor's office and Council Chambers and visitors can see the Hall of Mayors, containing photographs and paintings of past mayors since 1790.