One of the most beautiful cities in the Americas, Savannah is the epitome of what the United States’ deep south ought to look like. It is one of the most historically significant places in America. It retains significant numbers of buildings that date back to the early and lid-19th century and beyond, with typical verandahs and balconies dripping with Spanish moss and surrounded by lush oak and tropical woodland. It is also known for the typical laid back southern charm of its inhabitants.
The settlement was founded in 1733 by General James Edward Oglethorpe and a group of 120 like-minded individuals and it became the capital of the thirteenth British Colony in America, Georgia. Sadly, Savannah’s wealth came on the back of the slave trade – through both the import of slaves and the export of cotton, deerskin and rice.
The historic area of the city has been declared a National Historic Landmark. Oglethorpe had laid it out in a grid form, envisaging broad streets interspersed with parks and shaded public squares, of which the majority survive to this day. In the 19th century, the growth, production and export of cotton became increasingly important to the southern parts of America and Savannah became one of the main centres of the industry.
Other early buildings that survive, if in a restored condition, include the Herb House, the oldest building to survive in Georgia, dating back to the after the colony was founded, the Pirate’s House from the 1750s and the Pink House from the 1780s, as well as the Owen-Thomas House, Wormsloe Plantation and the Sorrel Weed House.
Unlike so many other southern cities, much of the historic area of Savannah survived the Civil War, chiefly because General Sherman was so impressed by its beauty he decided to spare it. Many freed slaves remained in the area, forming one of the most significant African American communities in the country.
The middle of the 20th Century was not so kind to the historic areas, and after various buildings were demolished, the Historic Savannah Foundation was set up to stop the destruction and eventually led to the city’s emergence as a tourist destination. The city is not just about the historic district: the City Market and the River Street area are filled with popular shops and restaurants while Tybee Island is a popular beach resort. Fort Jackson was important during the Civil War and the Laurel Grove and Bonaventure cemeteries are worth visiting.
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