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Savannah is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Chatham Countymarker, Georgiamarker, USAmarker. Savannah was established in 1733 and was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia. Each year Savannah attracts millions of visitors, who enjoy the city's architecture and historic buildings: the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America), 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 America), and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complexmarker (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America). Today Savannah's downtown area, which includes the Savannah Historic Districtmarker, the Savannah Victorian Historic Districtmarker and 21 parklike squares, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States (designated by the U.S. government in 1966). Savannah was the host city for the sailing competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgiamarker.


According to the United States Census Bureau, Savannah has a total area of 78.1 square miles (202.3 km²), of which 74.7 square miles (193.6 km²) is land and 3.4 square miles (8.7 km²) is water (4.31%). 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 the city.

Savannah is prone to flooding. Four canals and several pumping stations have been built to help reduce the effects: Fell Street Canal, Kayton Canal, Springfield Canal and the Casey Canal, with the first three draining north into the Savannah River.


Location of the Savannah-Hinesville-Fort Stewart CSA and its components:
Monthly normal and record high and low temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 84 86 91 95 100 104 105 104 98 97 89 83
Norm High °F 60.4 64.1 71 77.7 84.3 89.5 92.3 90.3 86 78.1 70.5 62.6
Norm Low °F 38 40.9 47.5 52.9 61.3 68.1 71.8 71.3 67.3 56.1 46.9 40.1
Rec Low °F 3 14 20 32 39 51 61 57 43 28 15 9
Precip (in) 3.95 2.92 3.64 3.32 3.61 5.49 6.04 7.2 5.08 3.12 2.4 2.81
Savannah's climate is classified as Humid subtropical (Köppen climate classification Cfa) characterized by hot, humid summers and cool winters. Due to its proximity to the Atlantic coast, Savannah experiences milder winters and cooler summers than the Georgia interior. Despite this, temperatures as high as 105°F and as low as 3°F have been recorded. Summers tend to be humid with many thunderstorms. Nearly half of Savannah's precipitation falls during the months of June through September, characteristic of monsoon-type climates. As the city is south of the snow line, it rarely receives snow in winter. Occasional Arctic cold fronts in winter can push nighttime temperatures into the 20s, but usually not much further than that.

Savannah is at risk for hurricanes, particularly of the Cape Verde type. 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 Carolinamarker. Savannah was seldom affected by hurricanes during the twentieth century, with one exception being Hurricane David in 1979. However, the historical record shows that the city was frequently affected during the second half of the nineteenth 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's population was estimated to be 132,410 in 2008, slightly up from the official 2000 U.S. Census report of 131,510 residents. However, between 2000 and 2008, the estimated population of the Savannah Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as Bryanmarker, Chathammarker, and Effinghammarker counties, grew from 293,000 to 334,353, an increase of 14 percent. Savannah's MSA is ranked third among Georgia cities. Savannah is the largest principal city of the Savannah-Hinesville-Fort Stewart CSA, a larger Combined Statistical Area that includes the Savannah and Hinesville-Fort Stewart metropolitan areas, which had a combined estimated population of 404,296 in 2008 (up from 364,914 at the 2000 census).

In the 2000 census of Savannah, there were 131,510 people, 51,375 households, and 31,390 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,759.5 people per square mile (679.4/km²). There were 57,437 housing units at an average density of 768.5/sq mi (296.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 57.08% African American, 38.86% White, 1.52% Asian, 0.23% Native American, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.93% from other races, and 1.30% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.23% of the population.

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. 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.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.6% under the age of 18, 13.2% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 19.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.6 males.

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.


Savannah is governed under the mayor-council system. The mayor is elected at large. The city council consists of eight members six of which are elected from one of six wards with each ward electing one member. The other two members are elected at large.


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.

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.

In the nineteenth century, the Port of Savannah became one of the most active in the United States, and Savannahians had the opportunity to consume some of the world's finest goods, imported by foreign merchants. Savannah's port has always been a mainstay of the city's economy. 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.

Today, the Port of Savannah, manufacturing, the military and the tourism industry are Savannah's four major economic drivers. In 2006, the Savannah Area Convention & Visitors Bureau reported over 6.85 million visitors to the city during the year. Lodging, dining, entertainment, and visitor-related transportation account for over $2 billion in visitors' spending per year and employ over 17,000.

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.

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 in Savannah on I-95 near Savannah-Hilton Head International Airportmarker.


Savannah is home to most of the public schools in the Chatham Countymarker public school system, the Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools.

Savannah has four colleges and universities offering bachelor's, master's, and professional or doctorate degree programs: Armstrong Atlantic State Universitymarker, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah State Universitymarker, and South University. In addition, Georgia Tech Savannah offers engineering degrees, and Georgia Southern Universitymarker has a satellite campus in the downtown area. Savannah Technical College, a two-year technical institution, and the Skidaway Institute of Oceanographymarker, a marine science research institute located on the northern end of Skidaway Island, offer educational programs as well.

Mercer Universitymarker began a four-year doctor of medicine program in August 2008 at Memorial University Medical Center. Mercer, with its main campus in Maconmarker, 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 specialities. The expanded program opened in August 2008 with 30 first-year students.

Other notable schools include:

Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah (formerly Oatland Island Education Center; the center was given the new name in 2007) is also a part of Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools,and the premier environmental education center in the southeast, serving thousands of students from school systems throughout the region. Located just east of Savannah on a marsh island, the Center features a "Native Animal Nature Trail" that winds through maritime forest, salt marsh, and freshwater wetlands. Along the way, visitors can observe native animals such as Florida panthers, Eastern timber wolves, alligators, and many more in their natural habitat.


Savannah/Hilton Head International Airportmarker is located west of Savannah off Interstate 95. Airlines serving this airport are Delta, Delta Connection, Northwest Airlink, Continental Express, United Express, US Airways, and American Eagle. Until September 2008, DayJet provided on-demand air transportation service between Savannah and cities throughout the Southeast.

Amtrak operates a passenger terminalmarker at Savannah for the Palmetto and Silver Service trains running between New York City and Miamimarker, Floridamarker with three southbound and three northbound trains stopping at the station daily.

Public transit throughout the region is provided by Chatham Area Transit.

The DOT (Downtown Transportation) system provides fare free transportation in the Historic District. Services include an express shuttle buses, the River Street Streetcar, and a ferry to Hutchinson Island and the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.

Interstates and major highways

  • Interstate 95 - Runs north-south just west of the city; provides access to Savannah/Hilton Head International Airportmarker, and intersects with Interstate 16 which leads into the city's center.
  • Interstate 16 - Terminates in downtown Savannah at Liberty and Montgomery Streets, and intersects with Interstate 95 and Interstate 516.
  • Interstate 516 - An urban perimeter highway connecting Southside Savannah, at DeRenne Avenue, with the industrialized port area of the city to the north; intersects with the Veterans Parkway and Interstate 16, as well. Also known as Lynes Parkway.
  • Harry S. Truman Parkway - Runs through the eastside of town, connecting the east end of Downtown with Southside Savannah. The road has been under construction since 1992, and is opening in phases with the latest phase opening in 2004. The highway will eventually complete a chain of highways that form a loop around the city that include Interstate 516, Veterans Parkway and the Truman Parkway.
  • Veterans Parkway - Links Interstate 516 and Southside/Midtown Savannah with South Savannah, and is intended to move traffic quicker from north-south by avoiding high-volume Abercorn Expressway. Also known as the Southwest Bypass.
  • Abercorn Expressway (S.R. 204) - An extension of Abercorn Street that begins at 37th Street (which is its northern point) and terminates at Rio Road and the Forest River at its southern point, and serves as the primary traffic and commercial artery linking downtown, midtown and southside sections of the city.
  • Islands Expressway - An extension of President Street to facilitate traffic moving between Downtown Savannah and the barrier islands, as well as the beaches of Tybee Islandmarker
  • Victory Drive (U.S. Route 80) - Runs east-west through Midtown Savannah and connects the city with the town of Thunderbolt, and the islands of Whitemarshmarker, Talahi, Wilmingtonmarker and Tybee. Merges with the Islands Expressway and serves as the only means of reaching the beach by automobile.


On February 12, 1733, General James Oglethorpe and his settlers landed at Yamacraw Bluff and were greeted by Tomo-Chi-Chi, the Yamacraws, and Indian traders John and Mary Musgrove. (Mary Musgrove often served as a translator.) 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 and Savannah was made the colonial capital of Georgia.

Consolidation with Chatham County

In 2003, Savannah and Chatham Countymarker merged their city and county police departments. Although advertised as a way to cut costs and improve efficiency, the merger has cost more than expected and has not avoided a 100-officer shortage that the department is trying to fix.

While some see the police merger as a step toward city-county consolidation, Savannah is actually one of eight incorporated cities or towns in Chatham County. (The others are Bloomingdalemarker, Garden Citymarker, Poolermarker, Port Wentworthmarker, Thunderboltmarker, Tybee Islandmarker, and Vernonburgmarker). Although these seven smaller localities would remain independent from a consolidated government, they have long opposed any efforts to adopt a city-county merger. One fear is that consolidation would reduce county funding to areas outside of Savannah. Efforts toward city-county consolidation are also opposed by some wealthier Chatham County communities, including The Landings on Skidaway Islandmarker, since these residents fear higher tax rates in a consolidated government. However, consolidation is favored by some city and county boosters, including Savannah's main newspaper, and merger plans have been presented to state legislators in the recent past. Should consolidation pass, Savannah would become Georgia's second-largest city (behind Atlantamarker's nearly 520,000), with a population of more than 205,000. By state law, the almost 35,000 residents of the seven smaller incorporated towns would remain independent; they are not included in a Savannah-Chatham consolidation plan. Without special provisions, however, some of these towns would find themselves permanently locked into their current city limits without possibility of further annexation.


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.

2008 saw an additional increase in burglaries 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.


All the major U.S. television networks have affiliates in Savannah: Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC, The CW, and MyNetworkTV. Savannah also hosts a PBS station, WVANmarker, that is based in the nearby town of Pembrokemarker; it is managed by Georgia Public Television and partnered with South Carolina Educational Television. WXSX-TV serves as the local MTV2 affiliate. W48CX, also known as WHHI-TV, is an independent station.

WSAVmarker, channel 3 in Savannah, serves as the NBC affiliate on analog; its equivalent on DTV is MyNetworkTV. Savannah's other major television stations are WTOCmarker, channel 11 (CBS); WTGSmarker, channel 28 (FOX); WJCLmarker, channel 22 (ABC); and WGSA-TVmarker, channel 13 (The CW).

The Savannah Morning News is Savannah's only daily newspaper. The Savannah Tribune is a weekly newspaper with a focus on Savannah's African American community.

Points of interest

Confederate Memorial in Forsyth Park
Savannah's architecture and history are internationally known, as is its reputation for Southern charm and hospitality; for example, the city's former promotional name was "Hostess City of the South," a phrase still used by the city government. Each year, Savannah attracts millions of visitors from across the country and around the world. Savannah's downtown area is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States.

The city's location offers visitors access to the coastal islands and the Savannah Riverfront, both popular tourist destinations. Tybee Islandmarker, formerly known as "Savannah Beach", is the site of the Tybee Island Light Stationmarker, the first lighthouse on the southern Atlanticmarker coast. Other picturesque towns adjacent to Savannah include the shrimping village of Thunderboltmarker and two residential areas that began as summer resort communities for Savannahians: Beaulieumarker and Vernonburgmarker.

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 Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridgemarker.

The Savannah Civic Centermarker is located on Montgomery Street and is host to over 900 events each year, including the Memorial Health Hockey Classic.


Reynolds Square
Savannah's historic district has 21 squares (one other original square is now undergoing restoration). The squares vary in size and personality, 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 "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. Separate efforts are now under way to revive all three squares. The city has restored Ellis Square after razing the City Market parking garage. The garage has been rebuilt as an underground facility, the Whitaker Street Parking Garage, and it opened in January 2009. The newly restored Ellis Square is scheduled for completion at the end of 2009.

Historic churches and synagogues

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist

Savannah is home to a number of historic houses of worship.

Founded in 1733, with the establishment of the Georgia colony, Christ Church is the longest continuous Christian congregation in Georgia. Early rectors include English evangelists John Wesley and George Whitefield. Located on the original site on Johnson Square, Christ Church continues as an active congregation.

The First Bryan Baptist Churchmarker is an African-American church that was organized by Andrew Bryan in 1788. The site was purchased in 1793 by Bryan, a former slave who had also purchased his freedom. The first structure was erected there in 1794. By 1800 the congregation was large enough to split: those at Bryan Street took the name of First African Baptist Church, and Second and Third African Baptist churches were also established. The current sanctuary of First Bryan Baptist Church was constructed in 1873.

In 1832, a controversy over doctrine caused the First African Baptist congregation at Bryan Street to split. Some members left, taking with them the name of First African Baptist Church. In 1859, the members of this new congregation (most of whom were slaves) built their current church building on Franklin Square.

The oldest standing house of worship is First Baptist Church, Savannah (1833), located on Chippewa Square. Also located near Chippewa Square is the Independent Presbyterian Church, which was founded in 1775.

Other historic houses of worship in Savannah include: Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Temple Mickve Israel, and St. John's Church .

Historic homes

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

Historic cemeteries

Colonial Park Cemetery (an early graveyard dating back to the English colony of Georgia), Laurel Grove Cemetery (with the graves of many Confederate soldiers and African American slaves) and Bonaventure Cemeterymarker (a former plantation and the final resting place for some illustrious Savannahians).

Historic forts

Other registered historic sites

Forsyth Park
River Street


Other attractions

  • Bamboo Farm and Coastal Gardens
  • Pinkie Masters Bar which has been the site of presidential visits and political aspiration. Pinkie Masters (a local political figure) was a friend of President Jimmy Carter, who made several visits to the bar and the city.
  • Club One — Home of The Lady Chablis made famous in the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
  • Saint Patrick's Day Celebrations — Annually Savannah holds celebrations in honor of Saint Patrick's Day. The actual parade route changes from year to year but usually travels through Savannah's Historic Park District and along Bay Street. The Savannah Waterfront Association has an annual celebration on Historic River Street that is reminiscent of Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street.
  • Oatland Island Education Center — facility owned and operated by the Board of Education, is a place to see animals that are or were found in this region.
  • Tybee Islandmarker — popular coastal city with public beaches and attractions.

Cultural activities

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.


Savannah Danse Theatre — Established in 1998 as a nonprofit organization, the theatre has grown to become the city’s largest dance company.


  • The Coastal Jazz Association — Presents a variety of jazz performances throughout the year in addition to hosting the annual Savannah Jazz Festival.
  • Savannah Children's Choir — Choir for children in 2nd through 8th grades that performs throughout the community and in annual holiday and spring concerts.
  • Savannah Concert Association — Presents a variety of guest artists for chamber music performances each season. Performances are generally held in the Lucas Theatre For The Arts.
  • Savannah Music Festival — An annual music festival of diverse artists.
  • The Savannah Orchestra — Savannah's professional orchestra, which presents an annual season of classical and popular concert performances.
  • The Savannah Philharmonic — Professional orchestral and choral organization presenting year round concerts (classical, pops, education).
  • The Savannah Winds — Amateur concert band hosted by the music department of Armstrong Atlantic State University.

Rock music

In the first decade of the 21st century, a number of heavy metal groups emerged from Savannah. These included Baroness, Kylesa, and Circle Takes the Square.


  • Savannah Children's Theatre — A non-profit, year-round drama theatre company geared toward offering elementary through high school students (and adults) opportunities for participation in dramatic and musical productions.
  • Savannah Community Theatre — A full theater season with a diverse programming schedule, featuring some of Savannah's finest actors in an intimate, three-quarter-round space.
  • Little Theatre of Savannah — Founded in 1950, The Little Theatre of Savannah, Inc., is a nonprofit, volunteer-based community organization dedicated to the celebration of the theater arts. Recognizing the unique social value, expressive fulfillment and opportunity for personal growth that theater provides its participants, the Little Theatre of Savannah invites all members of the community to participate both on- and off-stage.
  • Savannah Theatre — Savannah's only fully professional resident theater, producing music revues with live singers, dancers and the most rockin' band in town. Performances happen year-round, with several different titles and a holiday show.

Sports and recreation

Professional sport teams

Club Sport League Venue Notes
Savannah Braves Baseball Southern League Grayson Stadiummarker 1971 — 1983
Savannah Cardinals Baseball South Atlantic League Grayson Stadiummarker 1984 — 1995
Savannah Sand Gnats Baseball South Atlantic League Grayson Stadiummarker 1996 — present
Savannah Spirits Basketball Continental Basketball Association Savannah Civic Centermarker 1986 — 1988
Savannah Prowl Basketball American Basketball Association 2009 —

College teams

Club Affiliation Conference Venues Notes
Armstrong Atlantic State Pirates NCAA Division II Peach Belt Conference Alumni Arenamarker
Savannah College of Art and Design Bees NAIA Florida Sun Conference Ron Love Athletic Center
Savannah State Tigers NCAA Division I Independent Tiger Arenamarker, Ted Wright Stadium

Sports facilities

Auto Racing Baseball



Sister cities

Batumimarker (Ajaria, Georgiamarker)
Patrasmarker (Akhaiamarker, Greece)
Kayamarker (Burkina Fasomarker)

See also


A. Savannah had 24 original squares. Today 21 are still in existence. See Squares of Savannah, Georgia for additional information.


  1. City of Savannah Home Page
  2. Savannah Convention and Visitors Bureau
  3. (includes 7 pages of drawings) and
  4. David Peisner, "Metal in the Garden of Good and Evil," Spin, December 2009, p. 65-70.

Further reading

External links

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