Savannah
Downtown Savannah viewed from Bay Street
Downtown Savannah viewed from Bay Street
Flag of Savannah
Official seal of Savannah
Nickname: 
"The Hostess City of the South"
Map
Map
Map
Map
Coordinates: 32°04′52″N 81°05′28″W / 32.08111°N 81.09111°W / 32.08111; -81.09111
CountryUnited States
StateGeorgia
CountyChatham
EstablishedFebruary 12, 1733; 290 years ago (1733-02-12)
Founded byJames Oglethorpe
Named forSavannah River
Government
 • MayorVan R. Johnson (D)
 • City ManagerJoseph Melder
Area
 • City113.27 sq mi (293.36 km2)
 • Land108.50 sq mi (281.01 km2)
 • Water4.77 sq mi (12.35 km2)
Elevation20 ft (6 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • City147,780 Increase
 • Rank185th in the United States
5th in Georgia
 • Density1,300/sq mi (500/km2)
 • Urban
309,466 (US: 132nd)[2]
 • Urban density1,503.4/sq mi (580.5/km2)
 • Metro404,798 (US: 135th)
DemonymSavannahian
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
31401–31412, 31414-31416, 31418-31421
Area code912
FIPS code13-69000[5]
GNIS feature ID0322590[3]
Websitewww.savannahga.gov

Savannah (/səˈvænə/ sə-VAN) is the oldest city in the U.S. state of Georgia and the county seat of Chatham County. Established in 1733 on the Savannah River, the city of Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia.[6] A strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the American Civil War,[7] Savannah is today an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport. It is Georgia's fifth most populous city, with a 2020 U.S. census population of 147,780.[8] The Savannah metropolitan area, Georgia's third-largest, had a 2020 population of 404,798.[4]

Each year, Savannah attracts millions of visitors to its cobblestone streets, parks, and notable historic buildings. These include the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA), the Georgia Historical Society (the oldest continually operating historical society in the South), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South's first public museums), the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African-American Baptist congregations in the United States), Temple Mickve Israel (the third-oldest synagogue in the U.S.), and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in the U.S. and now a museum and visitor center).[6][9]

Savannah's downtown area, which includes the Savannah Historic District, its 22 parklike squares, and the Savannah Victorian Historic District, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States (designated by the federal government in 1966).[6] Downtown Savannah largely retains the founder James Oglethorpe's original town plan, a design known as the Oglethorpe Plan. During the 1996 Summer Olympics hosted by Atlanta, Savannah held sailing competitions in the nearby Wassaw Sound.

History

Main article: History of Savannah, Georgia

For a chronological guide, see Timeline of Savannah, Georgia.

General James Edward Oglethorpe, a philanthropist and representative of King George II to the American colonies, was sent to create a buffer south of the Savannah River to protect the Carolinas from Spanish Florida and French Louisiana.

On February 12, 1733,[10] General James Oglethorpe and settlers from the ship Anne landed at Yamacraw Bluff and were greeted by Tomochichi, the Yamacraws, and Indian traders John and Mary Musgrove. Mary Musgrove often served as an interpreter. The city of Savannah was founded on that date, along with the colony of Georgia. In 1751, Savannah and the rest of Georgia became a Royal Colony, with Savannah as its capital.[11]

By the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, Savannah had become the southernmost commercial port in the Thirteen Colonies. British troops took the city in 1778, and the following year a combined force of American and French soldiers, including Haitians, failed to rout the British at the Siege of Savannah. The British did not leave the city until July 1782.[12] In December 1804 the state legislature declared Milledgeville the new capital of Georgia.

Savannah, a prosperous seaport throughout the nineteenth century, was the Confederacy's sixth most populous city and the prime objective of General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea. On December 21, 1864, local authorities negotiated a peaceful surrender to save Savannah from destruction, and Union troops marched into the city at dawn.[13]

Savannah was named after the Savannah River, which probably derives from variant names for the Shawnee, a Native American people who migrated to the river in the 1680s. The Shawnee destroyed another Native people, the Westo, and occupied their lands at the head of the Savannah River's navigation on the fall line, near present-day Augusta.[14] These Shawnee, whose Native name was Ša·wano·ki (literally, "southerners"),[15] were known by several local variants, including Shawano, Savano, Savana and Savannah.[16] Another theory is that the name Savannah refers to the extensive marshlands surrounding the river for miles inland, and is derived from the English term "savanna", a kind of tropical grassland, which was borrowed by the English from Spanish sabana and used in the Southern Colonies. (The Spanish word comes from the Taino word zabana.)[17] Still other theories suggest that the name Savannah originates from Algonquian terms meaning not only "southerners" but perhaps also "salt."[18][19]

Geography

Savannah lies on the Savannah River, approximately 20 mi (32 km) upriver from the Atlantic Ocean.[20] According to the United States Census Bureau (2011), the city has a total area of 108.7 square miles (281.5 km2), of which 103.1 square miles (267.0 km2) is land and 5.6 square miles (15 km2) is water (5.15%). Savannah is the primary port on the Savannah River and the largest port in the state of Georgia. It is also located near the U.S. Intracoastal Waterway. Georgia's Ogeechee River flows toward the Atlantic Ocean some 16 miles (26 km) south of downtown Savannah, and forms the southern city limit.

Savannah is prone to flooding, due to abundant rainfall, an elevation at just above sea level, and the shape of the coastline, which poses a greater surge risk during hurricanes. The city currently uses five canals. In addition, several pumping stations have been built to help reduce the effects of flash flooding.[21]

Climate

Savannah's climate is classified as humid subtropical (Köppen Cfa). In the Deep South, this is characterized by long and almost tropical summers and short, mild winters. Savannah records few days of freezing temperatures each year (and has rare snowfall). Due to its proximity to the Atlantic coast, Savannah rarely experiences temperatures as extreme as those in Georgia's interior. Nevertheless, the extreme temperatures have officially ranged from 105 °F (41 °C), on July 20, 1986 and July 12, 1879, down to 3 °F (−16 °C) during the January 1985 Arctic outbreak.[22][23]

Seasonally, Savannah tends to have hot and humid summers with frequent (but brief) thunderstorms that develop in the warm and tropical air masses, which are common. Although summers in Savannah are frequently sunny, half of Savannah's annual precipitation falls during the months of June through September. Average dewpoints in summer range from 67.8 to 71.6 °F (20 to 22 °C). Winters in Savannah are mild and sunny with average daily high temperatures of 61.4 °F (16 °C) in January. November and December are the driest months recorded at Savannah–Hilton Head International Airport. Each year Savannah reports 21 days on average with low temperatures below freezing, though in some years fewer than 10 nights will fall below freezing, and the city has even gone an entire winter season (that of 1879-80) without recording a freeze.[24] Although decades might pass between snowfall events, Savannah has experienced snow on rare occasions, most notably in December 1989, when up to 3.9 inches (9.9 cm) was recorded in one day in parts of the city.[22][25]

Savannah is at risk for hurricanes, particularly of the Cape Verde type of storms that take place during the peak of the season. Because of its location in the Georgia Bight (the arc of the Atlantic coastline in Georgia and northern Florida) as well as the tendency for hurricanes to re-curve up the coast, Savannah has a lower risk of hurricanes than some other coastal cities such as Charleston, South Carolina. Savannah was seldom affected by hurricanes during the 20th century, with one exception of being hit by Hurricane David in 1979.[26] However, the historical record shows that the city was frequently affected during the second half of the 19th century. The most prominent of these storms was the 1893 Sea Islands hurricane, which killed at least 2,000 people. (This estimate may be low, as deaths among the many impoverished rural African Americans living on Georgia's barrier islands may not have been reported.)

Savannah was most recently affected by an active 2016 hurricane season, including Hurricane Matthew (which made a partial eyewall landfall),[27] and was brushed by Hurricane Irma in 2017.[28][29][30]

Climate data for Savannah, Georgia (Savannah/Hilton Head Int'l), 1991–2020 normals,[a] extremes 1871–present[b]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 84
(29)
87
(31)
94
(34)
95
(35)
102
(39)
104
(40)
105
(41)
104
(40)
102
(39)
97
(36)
89
(32)
83
(28)
105
(41)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 77.5
(25.3)
80.9
(27.2)
84.9
(29.4)
89.1
(31.7)
94.0
(34.4)
97.5
(36.4)
98.8
(37.1)
97.6
(36.4)
94.0
(34.4)
88.6
(31.4)
83.3
(28.5)
78.2
(25.7)
99.7
(37.6)
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 61.4
(16.3)
65.1
(18.4)
71.4
(21.9)
78.2
(25.7)
84.7
(29.3)
89.6
(32.0)
92.3
(33.5)
90.8
(32.7)
86.4
(30.2)
79.0
(26.1)
70.2
(21.2)
63.7
(17.6)
77.7
(25.4)
Daily mean °F (°C) 50.7
(10.4)
54.0
(12.2)
60.0
(15.6)
66.7
(19.3)
74.1
(23.4)
80.1
(26.7)
83.0
(28.3)
82.1
(27.8)
77.7
(25.4)
68.8
(20.4)
59.1
(15.1)
53.2
(11.8)
67.5
(19.7)
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 40.0
(4.4)
42.9
(6.1)
48.6
(9.2)
55.2
(12.9)
63.4
(17.4)
70.7
(21.5)
73.7
(23.2)
73.3
(22.9)
69.0
(20.6)
58.6
(14.8)
48.0
(8.9)
42.6
(5.9)
57.2
(14.0)
Mean minimum °F (°C) 23.3
(−4.8)
26.5
(−3.1)
31.2
(−0.4)
39.4
(4.1)
49.8
(9.9)
62.7
(17.1)
68.6
(20.3)
67.2
(19.6)
57.1
(13.9)
42.1
(5.6)
31.4
(−0.3)
26.9
(−2.8)
21.6
(−5.8)
Record low °F (°C) 3
(−16)
8
(−13)
20
(−7)
28
(−2)
39
(4)
49
(9)
61
(16)
57
(14)
43
(6)
28
(−2)
15
(−9)
9
(−13)
3
(−16)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.28
(83)
2.80
(71)
3.50
(89)
3.39
(86)
3.62
(92)
6.65
(169)
5.75
(146)
5.46
(139)
4.35
(110)
3.72
(94)
2.39
(61)
3.21
(82)
48.12
(1,222)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 8.5 7.8 7.9 6.7 7.3 12.3 12.4 12.8 9.9 6.8 6.8 8.4 107.6
Average relative humidity (%) 69.6 67.0 66.8 65.4 70.1 73.6 76.0 78.6 77.7 72.9 72.3 70.8 71.7
Average dew point °F (°C) 37.0
(2.8)
38.8
(3.8)
45.7
(7.6)
51.6
(10.9)
60.8
(16.0)
67.8
(19.9)
71.2
(21.8)
71.6
(22.0)
67.5
(19.7)
56.5
(13.6)
48.0
(8.9)
40.5
(4.7)
54.8
(12.6)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 175.5 181.0 232.0 275.6 288.9 276.0 271.3 245.8 214.3 228.6 193.5 174.2 2,756.7
Percent possible sunshine 55 59 62 71 67 65 62 60 58 65 61 56 62
Source: NOAA (relative humidity, dew point and sun 1961–1990)[22][31][32]

The first meteorological observations in Savannah probably occurred at Oglethorpe Barracks circa 1827, continuing intermittently until 1850 and resuming in 1866. The Signal Service began observations in 1874, and the National Weather Service has kept records of most data continually since then; since 1948, Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport has served as Savannah's official meteorological station. Annual records (dating back to 1950) from the airport's weather station are available on the web.[33]

Cityscape

Panorama of the River Street district at night

Neighborhoods

A map showing the existing City of Savannah neighborhoods.
Map of Savannah neighborhoods

Savannah is a city of diverse neighborhoods. More than 100 distinct neighborhoods can be identified in six principal areas of the city: Downtown (Landmark Historic District and Victorian District), Midtown, Southside, Eastside, Westside, and Southwest/West Chatham (recently annexed suburban neighborhoods).

Historic districts

Besides the Savannah Historic District, one of the nation's largest, five other historic districts have been formally demarcated:[34]

Demographics

Historical population
CensusPop.Note
18005,146
18105,2151.3%
18207,52344.3%
18307,303−2.9%
184011,21453.6%
185015,31236.5%
186022,29245.6%
187028,23526.7%
188030,7098.8%
189043,18940.6%
190054,24425.6%
191065,06419.9%
192083,25228.0%
193085,0242.1%
194095,99612.9%
1950119,63824.6%
1960149,24524.7%
1970118,349−20.7%
1980141,65419.7%
1990137,560−2.9%
2000131,510−4.4%
2010136,2863.6%
2020147,7808.4%
2022 (est.)148,0040.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[35]
1850-1870[36] 1870-1880[37]
1890-1910[38] 1920-1930[39]
1940[40] 1950[41] 1960[42]
1970[43] 1980[44] 1990[45]
2000[46] 2010[47] 2020[48]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Savannah's official 2020 population was 147,780, up from the official 2010 count of 136,286 residents.[49] The U.S. Census Bureau's official 2020 population of the Savannah metropolitan area—defined as Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham counties—was 404,798, up 16.45% from the 2010 census population of 347,611.[50] Savannah is also the largest principal city of the Savannah–Hinesville–Statesboro–Jesup combined statistical area, a larger trading area that includes the Savannah and Hinesville metropolitan statistical areas as well as the Statesboro and Jesup micropolitan statistical areas. The official 2020 population of this area was 597,465, up from 525,844 at the 2010 census.[51]

In 2010, there were 51,375 households, out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% were married couples living together, 21.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. Among them, 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.13. As of 2010, the median income for a household in the city was $29,038, and the median income for a family was $36,410. Males had a median income of $28,545 versus $22,309 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,921. About 17.7% of families and 21.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.4% of those under age 18 and 15.1% of those age 65 or over. By the 2022 American Community Survey, the median household income was $53,258 with a per capita income of $31,006.[52]

Racial distribution map of Savannah and Chatham County (source: 2010 U.S. census). Each dot represents 25 residents: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic or other (yellow).

Race and ethnicity

Savannah, Georgia – Racial and ethnic composition
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos may be of any race.
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2000[53] Pop 2010[47] Pop 2020[48] % 2000 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 49,903 49,381 54,082 37.95% 36.23% 36.60%
Black or African American alone (NH) 74,691 74,782 71,845 56.79% 54.87% 48.62%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 277 315 311 0.21% 0.23% 0.21%
Asian alone (NH) 1,984 2,697 5,610 1.51% 1.98% 3.80%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 78 130 238 0.06% 0.10% 0.16%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 188 242 692 0.14% 0.18% 0.47%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 1,451 2,347 5,213 1.10% 1.72% 3.53%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 2,938 6,392 9,789 2.23% 4.69% 6.62%
Total 131,510 136,286 147,780 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%

In 2010, the racial and ethnic makeup of the city was 55.04% Black, 38.03% White, 2.00% Asian, 0.03% Native American, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.93% from other races, and 2.01% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.07% of the population. Non-Hispanic whites were 32.6% of the population in 2010,[54] compared to 46.2% in 1990.[55] In 2020, its makeup was 48.62% Black or African American, 36.60% non-Hispanic white, 0.21% Native American, 3.80 Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 0.47% some other race, 3.53% multiracial, and 6.62% Hispanic or Latino of any race.[48]

Crime

A map showing the 2009 precincts of Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.
Map showing precincts of Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department

The total number of violent crimes in the Savannah-Chatham County reporting area ran just above 1,000 per year from 2003 through 2006. In 2007, however, the total number of violent crimes jumped to 1,163. Savannah-Chatham has recorded between 20 and 25 homicides each year since 2005.

In 2007, Savannah-Chatham recorded a sharp increase in home burglaries but a sharp decrease in larcenies from parked automobiles. During the same year, statistics show a 29 percent increase in arrests for Part 1 crimes.[56] An additional increase in burglaries occurred in 2008 with 2,429 residential burglaries reported to Savannah-Chatham police that year. That reflects an increase of 668 incidents from 2007. In 2007, there were 1,761 burglaries, according to metro police data.[57] Savannah-Chatham police report that crimes reported in 2009 came in down 6 percent from 2008.

In 2009, 11,782 crimes were reported to metro police — 753 fewer than in 2008. Within that 2009 number is a 12.2 percent decrease in violent crimes when compared with 2008. Property crimes saw a 5.3 percent decline, which included a 5.2 percent reduction in residential burglary. In 2008, residential burglary was up by almost 40 percent. While some violent crimes increased in 2009, crimes like street robbery went down significantly. In 2009, 30 homicides were reported, four more than the year before. Also, 46 rapes were reported, nine more than the year before. In the meantime, street robbery decreased by 23 percent. In 2008, metro police achieved a 90 percent clearance rate for homicide cases, which was described as exceptional by violent crimes unit supervisors. In 2009, the department had a clearance rate of 53 percent, which police attributed to outstanding warrants and grand jury presentations.[58]

The SCMPD provide the public with up-to-date crime report information through an online mapping service.[59] The year of 2015 saw a dramatic increase in the number of violent crimes, including at least 54 deaths due to gun violence, a number not seen since the early 1990s.[60] The first quarter of 2018 saw crime trending downward, compared to 2017.[61]

Religion

Christ Church Episcopal

Prior to British colonization of the Americas and the founding of colonial Georgia, the coastal region's indigenous inhabitants practiced Native American religions. Since colonization, the city of Savannah and surrounding area have remained predominantly Christian. However, a Jewish community has lived in Savannah since the colony's very first year. Later, Gullah-Geechee culture and Hoodoo practices were also observed, often alongside Christianity.

Founded in 1733, with the establishment of the Georgia colony, Christ Church is the longest continuous Christian congregation in Georgia. Early rectors include the Methodist evangelists John Wesley and George Whitefield. Located on the original site on Johnson Square, Christ Church continues as an active congregation.[62] The Independent Presbyterian Church, which was founded in 1755, has represented the community's Presbyterian constituency. Other historically prominent churches have included: the First Bryan Baptist Church, an African American church that was organized by Andrew Bryan in 1788;[63] First African Baptist Church;[63] and St. Benedict the Moor Church, which was the first African American Catholic church in Georgia, and one of the oldest in the Southeast.[64]

The oldest standing house of worship is First Baptist Church (1833), located on Chippewa Square. Other historic houses of worship in Savannah include: the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the Episcopal St. John's Church, and Temple Mickve Israel (the third-oldest synagogue in the U.S.).[6]

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives in 2020, the largest Christian group overall were Protestants within the Baptist tradition, served by the Southern Baptist Convention, National Baptist Convention, National Missionary Baptist Convention, and Progressive National Baptist Convention. Non-denominational Protestants represented the second-largest Christian group, including the Christian churches and Churches of Christ. Methodists were the third-largest, spread among the United Methodist Church and African Methodist Episcopal Church. The single second-largest Christian denomination was the Roman Catholic Church, served by the Diocese of Savannah.[65]

Among Savannah's non-Christian population, which forms a minority, Hinduism was the city's second-largest religion. Judaism was Savannah's third-largest, with a history dating back to 1733.[66] Orthodox Judaism, Reform Judaism, and Conservative Judaism were the predominant Jewish traditions adhered to. Islam was the area's fourth-largest religion, followed by the Baha'i.[65]

Government

With its distinctive dome in tissue-paper-thin, 23-karat gold leaf, Savannah's City Hall (1906), which stands on Bay Street at the head of Bull Street, is the first building constructed for exclusive use by the municipal government.
Map of official Savannah Aldermanic Districts

Savannah adopted a council-manager form of government in 1954. The city council consists of the mayor and eight aldermen, six of whom are elected from one of six aldermanic districts, with each district electing one member. The other two members and the mayor are elected at-large.

The council levies taxes, enacts ordinances, adopts the annual budget, and appoints the city manager.[67] The city manager enacts the policies and programs established by council, recommends an annual budget and work programs, appoints bureau and department heads, and exercises general supervision and control over all employees of the city.[67]

Police and fire departments

In 2003 Savannah and Chatham County voted to merge their city and county police departments. The Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department was established on January 1, 2005, after the Savannah Police Department and Chatham County Police Department merged.

In February 2018, the city and county governments ended the police department merger. This reestablished both the Savannah Police Department and the Chatham County Police Department, and they now operate as two separate agencies.[68] The departments have a number of specialty units, including K-9, SWAT, Bomb Squad, Marine Patrol, Dive, Air Support and Mounted Patrol. The 9-1-1 Communications Dispatch Center handles all 9-1-1 calls for service within the county and city, including fire and EMS. The Savannah Fire Department serves the City of Savannah, and there are separate municipal firefighting organizations elsewhere in Chatham County.

State representation

Derek Mallow (D) and Ben Watson (R) represent the Savannah area in the Georgia State Senate.[69][70] Carl Gilliard (D), Anne Allen Westbrook (D), Ron Stephens (R), Edna Jackson (D) and Jesse Petrea (R) represent the area in the Georgia House of Representatives.[71]

Prisons

The Georgia Department of Corrections operates the Coastal State Prison in Savannah.[72][73]

Economy

A container ship leaves the Port of Savannah after passing under the Talmadge Memorial Bridge and proceeding east down the Savannah River past the Savannah Historic District.

Agriculture was essential to Savannah's economy during its first two centuries. Silk and indigo production, both in demand in England, were early export commodities. By 1767, almost a ton of silk per year was exported to England.[74] Georgia's mild climate offered perfect conditions for growing cotton, which became the dominant commodity after the American Revolution. Its production under the plantation system and shipment through the Port of Savannah helped the city's European immigrants to achieve wealth and prosperity.[75]

By the nineteenth century, the Port of Savannah had become one of the most active in the United States. In the early years of the United States, goods produced in the New World had to pass through Atlantic ports such as Savannah's before they could be shipped to England.[75] The Port of Savannah grew to become North America's fourth-largest port for shipping container traffic. In 2023, the port handled 4.9 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEU).[76]

Savannah's first hotel, City Hotel, was completed in 1821. It also housed the city's first United States Post Office branch.[77] Between 1912 and 1968, the Savannah Machine & Foundry Company was a shipbuilder in Savannah.[78]

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. Savannah is also home to the Gulfstream Aerospace company, maker of private jets, as well as various other large industrial interests. TitleMax is headquartered in Savannah. Morris Multimedia, a newspaper and television company, is also based in Savannah.

In 2000, JCB, the third-largest producer of construction equipment in the world and the leading manufacturer of backhoes and telescopic handlers, built its North American headquarters near Savannah in Pooler on I-95 near Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. By 2023, Naturals2Go relocated to Savannah,[79] and Amazon has operated throughout Savannah and its metropolitan area since 2021.[80][81][82]

Arts and culture

Beyond its architectural significance as being the nation's largest, historically restored urban area, the city of Savannah has a rich and growing performing arts scene, offering cultural events throughout the year.

Books and literature

Dance

Music

Lucas Theatre for the Arts

Theater and performance

Visual and community arts

Parks and recreation

Confederate Monument in Forsyth Park
The German Memorial Fountain in Orleans Square was erected in 1989 to honor the accomplishments of German Americans in Savannah.
A carriage from Historic Carriage Tours of Savannah pauses at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
Typical houses in the Savannah Historic District; these are located near the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Savannah's architecture, history, and reputation for Southern charm and hospitality are internationally known. The city's former promotional name was "Hostess City of the South," a phrase still used by the city government.[107][108] An earlier nickname was "the Forest City", in reference to the large population of live oak trees that flourish in the Savannah area. These trees were especially valuable in shipbuilding during the 19th century.[109] In 2019, Savannah attracted 14.8 million tourists from across the country and around the world.[110] Savannah's downtown area is one of the largest National Historic Landmark districts in the United States.[11]

The city's location offers tourists 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. Other picturesque towns adjacent to Savannah include the shrimping village of Thunderbolt and three residential areas that began as summer resort communities for Savannahians: Beaulieu, Vernonburg, and the Isle of Hope.

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 Talmadge Memorial Bridge.

The Georgia Historical Society, an independent educational and research institution, has a research center in Savannah. The research center's library and archives hold the oldest collection of materials related to Georgia history.

The Savannah Civic Center on Montgomery Street is host to more than nine hundred events each year.

Savannah has consistently been named one of "America's Favorite Cities" by Travel + Leisure. In 2012, the magazine rated Savannah highest in "Quality of Life and Visitor Experience."[111] Savannah was also ranked first for "Public Parks and Outdoor Access," visiting in the Fall, and as a romantic escape.[112] Savannah was also named as America's second-best city for "Cool Buildings and Architecture," behind only Chicago.[113]

The mile-long Jones Street has been described as one of the most charming streets in America.[114][115]

Squares

Main article: Squares of Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is noted for its 22 squares, small parks arranged along five historic streets running north to south. Each street has between three and five squares. The squares vary in size and character, 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 three "lost squares," destroyed in the course of urban development during the 1950s. Elbert and Liberty Squares were paved over to make way for a realignment of U.S. highway 17, while Ellis Square was demolished to build the City Market parking garage. The city restored Ellis Square after razing the parking garage. The garage has been rebuilt as an underground facility, the Whitaker Street Parking Garage, and it opened in January 2009. The restored Ellis Square opened in March 2010.[116][117][118] Separate efforts are now under way to revive Elbert and Liberty Squares.

Franklin Square is the site of Savannah's Haitian Monument, which commemorates the heroic efforts of the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue in the 1779 Siege of Savannah and for an independent America. One of the few black regiments to fight for the American side in the Revolutionary War, the soldiers were recruited from present-day Haiti, until 1804 the French colony of Saint-Domingue. Chippewa Square honors the Battle of Chippawa during the War of 1812. It features a large statue of James Oglethorpe, the city's founder. In popular culture, the square is the location of the park bench seen in the 1994 film Forrest Gump from which the title character dispenses wisdom to others waiting for a bus.[119]

Because both Calhoun Square (the official name until 2022)[120] and Whitefield Square were named for prominent slaveholders, a movement was begun in 2021 to rename them Sankofa Square and Jubilee Square, respectively.[121] Calhoun Square was renamed Taylor Square in 2024.[122]

Historic homes

Sorrel–Weed House
Green–Meldrim House

Main article: List of historic houses and buildings in Savannah, Georgia

Among the historic homes that have been preserved are: the Olde Pink House, the Sorrel–Weed House, Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace, the Davenport House Museum, the Green–Meldrim House, the Owens–Thomas House, the William Scarbrough House, and the Wormsloe plantation of Noble Jones. Mercer Williams House, the former home of Jim Williams in Monterey Square, is the main location of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Opulent buildings that succumbed to fire include the mansions at Bonaventure Plantation and Greenwich Plantation.

Historic cemeteries

Colonial Park Cemetery was the city's principal burial ground for much of the eighteenth century, when Georgia was a British colony. Laurel Grove Cemetery, with the graves of many Confederate soldiers and African American slaves, was Savannah's chief municipal cemetery during the nineteenth century. Bonaventure Cemetery is a former plantation and the final resting place for some illustrious Savannahians. Also located in Savannah are the Mordecai Sheftall Cemetery and the Levi Sheftall Family Cemetery, which both date back to the second half of the eighteenth century.

Historic forts

Fort Jackson (named for the Georgia politician James Jackson, not Andrew Jackson) lies on the Savannah River, one mile east of Savannah's Historic District. Built between 1808 and 1812 to protect the city from attack by sea, it was one of several Confederate forts defending Savannah from Union forces during the Civil War. Fort Pulaski National Monument, located on Cockspur Island, 17 miles (27 km) east of Savannah, preserves the largest fort protecting the city during the war. The Union Army bombarded Fort Pulaski in April 1862 with the aid of a new rifled cannon. Confederate troops soon surrendered, and the cannon effectively rendered all brick fortifications obsolete.

Other historic sites

Forsyth Park
River Street

Shopping

Various centers for shopping exist about the city including Abercorn Common, Savannah Historic District, Oglethorpe Mall, Savannah Mall and Abercorn Walk.

Other attractions

Sports

Portions of the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile-long (5,000 kilometer) system of trails from Maine to Florida, run through Savannah.

Professional sport teams

Club Sport League Venue Championships Notes
Savannah Clovers FC Soccer National Independent Soccer Association Memorial Stadium (Savannah) 1 (UPSL 2019) 2016–present
Savannah Ghost Pirates[130] Ice hockey ECHL Enmarket Arena 0 2022–present
Savannah Braves Baseball Southern League Grayson Stadium 0 1971–1983
Savannah Cardinals Baseball South Atlantic League Grayson Stadium 2 (1993, 1994) 1984–1995
Savannah Sand Gnats Baseball South Atlantic League Grayson Stadium 2 (1996, 2013) 1996–2015
Savannah Bananas Baseball Coastal Plain League (exhibition only) Grayson Stadium 3 (2016, 2021, 2022) 2016–present
Savannah Spirits Basketball Continental Basketball Association Savannah Civic Center 0 1986–1988
Savannah Wildcats Basketball Continental Basketball League Georgia Southern University-Armstrong Campus 1 (2010) 2010–present
Coastal Georgia Buccaneers Basketball The Basketball League 2024–present
C-Port Trojans Basketball East Coast Basketball League Savannah High School 2014–present
Savannah Steam American football American Indoor Football Tiger Arena 2015–2016

Collegiate sports teams

Club Affiliation Conference Venues Notes
Savannah College of Art and Design Bees NAIA Florida Sun Conference SCAD Athletic Complex, Ronald C. Waranch Equestrian Center
Savannah State Tigers NCAA Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tiger Arena, Ted Wright Stadium

Education

Student center of SCAD, Savannah campus (the building was formerly a synagogue.)
Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools headquarters

Savannah hosts four colleges and universities offering bachelor's, master's, and professional or doctoral degree programs: Georgia Southern University-Armstrong Campus, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Savannah State University, and South University. In addition, Georgia Tech Savannah offers certificate programs, and Georgia Southern University has a satellite campus in the downtown area. Savannah Technical College, a two-year institution, and the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, a marine science research institute of the University of Georgia located on the northern end of Skidaway Island, offer educational programs as well. Savannah is also the location of Ralston College, a liberal arts college founded in 2010.[131]

Mercer University began a four-year doctor of medicine program in August 2008 at Memorial University Medical Center. Mercer, with its main campus in Macon, received additional state funding in 2007 to expand its existing partnership with Memorial by establishing a four-year medical school in Savannah (the first in southern Georgia). Third- and fourth-year Mercer students have completed two-year clinical rotations at Memorial since 1996; approximately 100 residents are trained each year in a number of medical practices. The expanded program opened in August 2008 with 30 first-year students.

Savannah Law School, which opened in 2012 in the historic Candler building on Forsyth Park, ceased operations in 2018.[132]

Savannah is also home to most of the schools in the Chatham County school district, the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. Notable secondary schools in Savannah-Chatham County include the following (public schools are indicated with an asterisk):

The Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah[c] is also a part of the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools. An environmental education center, it serves thousands of students from throughout the Southeastern United States. Located east of Savannah on a marsh island, it features a 2-mile (3.2 km) Native Animal Nature Trail that winds through maritime forest, salt marsh, and freshwater wetlands. Along the trail, visitors can observe native animals such as Florida panthers, Eastern timber wolves, and alligators in their natural habitat.

Media

See also: List of newspapers in Georgia (U.S. state), List of radio stations in Georgia (U.S. state), and List of television stations in Georgia (U.S. state)

Savannah's major television stations are WSAV-TV, channel 3 (NBC); WTOC-TV, channel 11 (CBS); WJCL, channel 22 (ABC); and WTGS, channel 28 (Fox). Two PBS member stations serve the city: WVAN (channel 9), part of Georgia Public Broadcasting; and WJWJ-TV (channel 16), part of SCETV. Other stations include channel 3.2 (The CW).

The Georgia Gazette was the Georgia colony's first newspaper and was published in Savannah beginning April 7, 1763.[133] Today the Savannah Morning News is Savannah's only remaining daily newspaper. It first appeared on January 15, 1850 as the Daily Morning News. Both the Savannah Tribune and the Savannah Herald are weekly newspapers with a focus on the city's African-American community. Connect Savannah is a free weekly newspaper focused on local news, culture and music.[134][135] The Coastal Buzz is the metro area's only media company dedicated to "positive news." It is owned by Positive Life Media.

Infrastructure

Transportation

Old Savannah cobblestone, Historic District

Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is located off Interstate 95 west of Savannah.

Amtrak operates a passenger terminal at Savannah for its Palmetto and Silver Service trains, which run between New York City and Miami. Two southbound and three northbound trains make daily stops at the Savannah terminal.

Public transit throughout the region is assured by Chatham Area Transit (CAT). There are 17 fixed routes, plus the CAT's dot (downtown transportation)[136] system, which provides fare-free bus service on the Forsyth Loop and Downtown Loop, as well as free passage to and from Hutchinson Island via the Savannah Belles Ferry.[137]

Interstates and major highways

Sister cities

Savannah's sister cities are:[138]

Notable people

Main article: List of people from Savannah, Georgia

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1991 to 2020.
  2. ^ Official records for Savannah were kept at downtown from January 1871 to April 1945, Hunter Field from May 1945 to September 1950, and at Savannah/Hilton Head Int'l since October 1950. For more information, see ThreadEx.
  3. ^ The Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah was known as the Oatland Island Education Center until 2007.

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Further reading