Introduction to Savannah, Georgia
The city of Savannah, Georgia, county seat of Chatham County, is situated at the mouth of the Savannah River, near the South Carolina border. Interstate I-95 runs west of the city, while Interstates I-16 and I-516 run through it. Savannah is also serviced by U.S. Routes 17 and 80; and by Georgia State Highway 21. Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is located just west of the city.
The recorded history of Savannah began in 1733; the same year in which General James Oglethorpe and 120 settlers landed their ship on a bluff high along the Savannah River to found the American colony of Georgia, named after England's King George II. Savannah became the first city of this new colony, whose mission was to offer a new start for England's working poor and to strengthen the colonies by increasing trade. Oglethorpe's friendship with the local Yamacraw Indian chief, Tomochichi, paved the way towards the peaceful settlement of Savannah and the early flourishing of the town. In later years, Savannah's rich soil and favorable climate led to a significant cotton and rice industry, and the subsequent invention of the cotton gin turned the city into a prosperous commercial port. The Civil War brought economic hardship to the city, which became the target of devastating blockades and eventual capture by Union forces. Post-war reconstruction spawned a rebirth of the cotton industry, which would later be devastated once again; this time by the boll weevils during the Depression years. The city was able to recoup and bounce back again during the post-World War II era, not only economically but also culturally and aesthetically. A significant initiative was undertaken to preserve and restore the city's historic structures and beautiful architecture. Today, thousands of people flock to Savannah annually to take in its ornate ironwork, fountains and green squares. The city has become one of the country's most popular vacation spots.
The beauty of Savannah is reflected not only in its dazzling architecture but also in the many artistic and cultural options it offers. One of the nation's oldest public museums is the Telfair Museum of Art, which is only a short walk from the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum, the historic King-Tisdell Cottage, and the birthplace of Girls Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low. Other notable sites in the city include the following:
- Fort Pulaski National Monument
- Isaiah Davenport House Museum
- Massie Heritage Center
- Old Fort Jackson
- Savannah History Museum
- Savannah Ogeechee Canal Museum & Nature Center
- Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
- Colonial Park Cemetery
- The Roundhouse Railroad Museum
Every spring Savannah hosts the Savannah Music Festival, one of the nation's most distinctive musical arts events. The Festival, which lasts two weeks, draws tens of thousands and features 100 world-class musical events staged in a variety of venues throughout the city's historic district. Sports fans will note that Savannah is home to the Savannah Sand Gnats, a minor league baseball Class A farm team affiliated with the New York Mets. The Sand Gnats play in the city's Grayson Stadium, and are members of the South Atlantic League.