Savannah is the largest city
in, and the county seat of, Chatham
County, Georgia, USA.
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
complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in
America). Today Savannah's downtown area, which
includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah
Victorian Historic District 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,
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
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:
normal and record high and low temperatures
Savannah's climate is classified as Humid subtropical
) 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 Carolina.
Savannah was seldom affected by hurricanes
during the twentieth century
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
, which killed at least 2,000 people. (This
estimate may be low, as deaths among the many impoverished rural
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
(MSA), defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as
Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham 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
, a larger Combined Statistical Area
includes the Savannah
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
, 1.52% Asian
, 0.23% Native American
0.93% from other races
and 1.30% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 2.23% of the
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
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
conditions for growing cotton
, which became
the dominant commodity after the American Revolution
. Its production
under the plantation system
shipment through the Port of
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
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
For years, Savannah was the home of Union
, which housed the world's largest paper mill. The plant is
now owned by International
, 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
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
is home to most of the public schools in the Chatham
County public school system, the Savannah-Chatham County
has four colleges and universities offering bachelor's, master's,
and professional or doctorate degree programs: Armstrong
Atlantic State University, Savannah College of Art and
Design, Savannah State University, and South
University. In addition, Georgia Tech Savannah offers
engineering degrees, and Georgia Southern University has a satellite campus in the downtown area.
Savannah Technical College, a
two-year technical institution, and the Skidaway
Institute of Oceanography, a marine science research institute located on the
northern end of Skidaway Island, offer educational programs as
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).
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
Savannah/Hilton Head International
Airport is located west of Savannah off Interstate 95.
serving this airport are Delta
, Northwest Airlink
, Continental Express
, United Express
, and American
. Until September 2008, DayJet
provided on-demand air transportation service between Savannah and
cities throughout the Southeast.
Amtrak operates a passenger
terminal at Savannah for the Palmetto and Silver Service trains running between
New York City and Miami, Florida 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 (Do
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
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
Airport, 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
- 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 Whitemarsh, Talahi,
Wilmington and Tybee. Merges with the Islands
Expressway and serves as the only means of reaching the beach by
On February 12, 1733, General James
and his settlers landed at Yamacraw Bluff and were
greeted by Tomo-Chi-Chi, the Yamacraws, and Indian traders John and
. (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
Savannah and Chatham County merged their city and county police departments.
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
, Savannah is
actually one of eight incorporated cities or towns in Chatham
County. (The others are Bloomingdale, Garden City, Pooler, Port
Wentworth, Thunderbolt, Tybee Island, and Vernonburg).
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
Island, since these residents fear higher tax rates in a
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 Atlanta's nearly
520,000), with a population of more than 205,000.
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
All the major U.S. television networks have affiliates in Savannah:
, The CW
, and MyNetworkTV
. Savannah also hosts a PBS
station, WVAN, that is
based in the nearby town of Pembroke; it is managed by Georgia Public Television and
partnered with South Carolina Educational Television.
-TV serves as the local MTV2
, also known
, is an independent station.
WSAV, channel 3
in Savannah, serves as the NBC affiliate on analog; its equivalent
on DTV is MyNetworkTV. Savannah's other major television stations
are WTOC, channel 11
(CBS); WTGS, channel 28
(FOX); WJCL, channel 22
(ABC); and WGSA-TV, channel 13 (The CW).
The Savannah Morning News
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
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
Districts in the United States.
The city's location offers visitors access to the coastal islands
and the Savannah Riverfront, both popular tourist destinations.
Island, formerly known as "Savannah Beach", is the site of
Island Light Station, the first lighthouse on
the southern Atlantic coast. Other picturesque towns adjacent to Savannah
include the shrimping village of Thunderbolt and two residential areas that began as summer
resort communities for Savannahians: Beaulieu and Vernonburg.
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
Civic Center is located on Montgomery Street and is host to over
900 events each year, including the Memorial Health Hockey Classic.
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
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
Baptist Church 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
, 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
. In 1859, the members of this new congregation (most of
whom were slaves) built their current church building on Franklin
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
, and St.
historic homes that have been preserved are: the Pink House,
Sorrel Weed House, Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace,
Green-Meldrim House, Owens-Thomas House, William Scarbrough House, and Wormsloe plantation of Noble Jones.
Sorrel Weed House
The Mercer-Williams House
, former home of Jim Williams
, is the main location of
the Garden of Good and Evil
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 Cemetery (a former plantation and the final resting place
for some illustrious Savannahians).
Other registered historic sites
- Bamboo Farm and
- 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
- Tybee Island — popular coastal city with public beaches and
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
- 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
- The Savannah Philharmonic — Professional orchestral and choral
organization presenting year round concerts (classical, pops,
- The Savannah Winds — Amateur concert band hosted by the music
department of Armstrong Atlantic State University.
In the first decade of the 21st century, a number of heavy metal
groups emerged from Savannah. These
, 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
- A. Savannah had 24 original squares. Today 21
are still in existence. See Squares of Savannah, Georgia
for additional information.
- City of Savannah Home Page
- Savannah Convention and Visitors Bureau
- (includes 7 pages of drawings) and
- David Peisner, "Metal in the Garden of Good and Evil," Spin,
December 2009, p. 65-70.