Savannah is a city located in (and the county seat of) Chatham County, Georgia. The population was 129,000 for the city and 304,000 for the metropolitan area, according to the latest census estimates (2003). Savannah is the second-largest city in Georgia.
The metropolitan area includes three Georgia counties: Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham. (Hilton Head Island, in South Carolina, is not officially part of the Savannah metropolitan area.)
Savannah is located at latitude 32°5'0" North, longitude 81°6'0" West. Savannah was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia. It is also the primary port on the Savannah River and is located along the U.S. Intracoastal Waterway.
Savannah's architecture and history are internationally known, as is its reputation for Southern charm and hospitality. The city prides itself as the "Hostess City of the South". Savannah's downtown area is the largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States. Savannah is also noted for its St. Patrick's Day celebration, the second largest in the United States behind Boston, Massachusetts.
Residents of Savannah are known as Savannahians (pron. sa-VAN-yuns).
Savannah is served by Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, near Interstate 95.
As of 2004, the mayor of Savannah is Otis Johnson.
Like most cities, agriculture was the background of Savannah's economy in its first two centuries. Silk and indigo production, both in demand in England, were early export commodities; by 1767 almost a ton of silk was exported annually to England.
The Savannah region's mild climate offered perfect conditions for growing cotton, which become the dominant commodity after the American Revolution. Its production (under the plantation system) helped the city's European immigrants to achieve wealth and prosperity. The port of Savannah was one of the most frequented in the United States and Savannah's inhabitants had the opportunity to consume the world's finest goods, imported by foreign merchants. Savannah grew to be one of the richest cities in the United States. Cotton was exported to places all over the world.
Savannah's port has always been a mainstay of the city's economy. In the early years of U.S. history, goods produced in the New World had to pass through ports such as Savannah's before they could be shipped to England.
Around 3500 BC, the Biblo inhabited the area now known as Savannah. Thousands of years later, the Yamacraws settled here and in the 18th century AD under their leader Tomochici, they met the new arrivals. In November of 1732, the ship Anne sailed from Britain carrying 114 colonists, including General James Oglethorpe. On February 12, 1733, Oglethorpe and his settlers landed at Yamacraw Bluff and, in an example of some of the earliest "southern hospitality," were greeted by Tomochici, the Yamacraws, and John and Mary Musgrove, Indian traders. The city was founded on that date, along with the state of Georgia. Because of the friendship formed between Oglethorpe and Tomochici, the city was able to flourish unhindered by the warfare which marked the beginnings of many early American colonies.
The city was the first planned city in America. Oglethorpe's Savannah Plan consisted of a series of wards built around central squares, with trust lots on the east and west sides of the squares for public buildings and churches, and tithing lots for the colonists' private homes on the north and south sites of the squares.
In 1740 George Whitefield founded the Bethesda orphanage , which is now the oldest extant orphanage in the U.S.A.
During the American Revolutionary War, Savannah came under British and Loyalist control in 1778. At the Siege of Savannah in 1779, American and French troops (the latter including a company of free blacks from Haiti) fought unsuccessfully to retake the city.
On January 27, 1785 members of the State Assembly gathered in Savannah to found the nation's first state-chartered, public university - The University of Georgia (located in Athens).
In 1818 shipping and business stopped when the city fell under quarantine due to a yellow fever epidemic. Many ships never came back to Savannah, dealing a harsh blow to the local cotton industry.
In 1864, the city was captured by Northern troops led by General Sherman.
In the 1930's and 40's many of the distinguished buildings in the historic district were demolished to create parking lots. Squares had been bisected by streets and fire lanes to speed traffic flow. The demolition of the 1870 City Market on Ellis Square and the attempted demolition of the 1821 Davenport House prompted seven Georgia women, led by Davenport descendent Lucy Barrow McIntire, to create the Historic Savannah Foundation , which was able to preserve the city from destruction. In 1979, the Savannah College of Art and Design was founded, and began a process of renovation and adaptive reuse of many notable downtown buildings, rather than building a centralized campus. This effort, along with the work of the Historic Savannah Foundation and other preservation groups, has contributed greatly to Savannah's now-famous rebirth.
Despite preservationists' efforts, some large modern structures have been approved within the boundaries of Savannah's historic district. The DeSoto Hilton Hotel opened in 1967 and the Hyatt Regency Savannah in 1980. Drayton Tower, a steel-and-glass high rise, was built in the 1950s. For many years it seemed out of place but is now becoming historic in itself. Plans are under way to convert the neglected structure into luxury condominiums.
The city's popularity as a tourist destination was solidified by the best-selling novel and subsequent movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which were set in Savannah.
The city's location offers visitors 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.
Geography and Points of Interest
Savannah is located at 32°3'3" North, 81°6'14" West (32.050706, -81.103762). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 202.3 km² (78.1 mi²). 193.6 km² (74.7 mi²) of it is land and 8.7 km² (3.4 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 4.31% water.
Savannah's historic district is divided into 24 squares :
- Calhoun Square
- Chatham Square
- Chippewa Square
- Columbia Square
- Crawford Square
- Elbert Square
- Ellis Square
- Franklin Square
- Greene Square
- Johnson Square
- Lafayette Square
- Liberty Square
- Madison Square
- Monterey Square
- Ogelthorpe Square
- Orleans Square
- Pulaski Square
- Reynolds Square
- Telfair Square
- Troup Square
- Warren Square
- Washington Square
- Whitefield Square
- Wright Square
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 due to development in the 1950's. Elbert and Liberty Squares were paved over to make way for an extension of Interstate 16, while Ellis Square was demolished to build the City Market parking garage. Separate efforts are under way to revive each of the three lost squares.
- Colonial Park Cemetery—an early graveyard dating back to the English colony of Georgia
- Riverfront Plaza and Factors' Walk—River Street's restored nineteenth-century cotton warehouses and passageways include shops, bars and restaurants
- City Market—Savannah's restored central market features antiques, souvenirs, and small eateries
- Historic homes—the Pink House, Juliette Gordon Low birthplace, Owens-Thomas house, Wormsloe plantation
- Historic houses of worship—Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Independent Presbyterian Church, Temple Mickve Israel
- Fort Pulaski National Monument—Civil War fort located on Cockspur Island, 17 miles east of Savannah via the Islands Expressway
More information: Savannah Visitors Center at
As of the census2 of 2000, there are 131,510 people, 51,375 households, and 31,390 families residing in the city. The population density is 679.4/km² (1,759.5/mi²). There are 57,437 housing units at an average density of 296.7/km² (768.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 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. 2.23% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 51,375 households out of which 28.5% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.2% are married couples living together, 21.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% are non-families. 31.4% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.5% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.45 and the average family size is 3.13.
In the city the population is 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 are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 32 years. For every 100 females there are 89.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 84.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $29,038, and the median income for a family is $36,410. Males have a median income of $28,545 versus $22,309 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,921. 21.8% of the population and 17.7% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 31.4% of those under the age of 18 and 15.1% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
People from Savannah
- Juliette Gordon Low, (1860-1927), founder of Girl Scouts of the USA
- Conrad Aiken, (1889-1973), poet
- Charles Coburn, (1877-1961), actor
- Johnny Mercer, (1909-1976), songwriter
- Flannery O'Connor, (1925-1964), writer
- Stacy Keach, (b. 1941), actor
- Clarence Thomas, (b. 1948), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
- Diana Scarwid , (b. 1955), actor
- James Moore Wayne, (b. 1790), Congressman and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
- Billy Joe Royal, 1960's singer
Savannah in television and film
The following is based on a list assembled by the Savannah Film Commission :
- My Father, My Son
- War Stories
- All My Children
- Tales of Ordinary Madness
- The Slayer
- White Death
- Scared to Death
- When the Circus Came to Town
- East of Eden
- Mother Seton
- Gold Bug
- The Ordeal of Dr. Mudd
- Orphan Train
- One of the region's old nicknames is "the Coastal Empire." A new nickname is "the Creative Coast".
- The communities of White Bluff are now within the city limits of Savannah.
- Between 1960 and 1975, Savannah was one of the few Sunbelt cities to lose population in both the city and metropolitan area. This was due to the closing of Hunter Air Force Base in 1966 (later reopened as an army airfield) and the lack of new industry. This population trend has reversed, and since 1980 Savannah's metropolitan area has grown from 200,000 to 304,000, a healthy rate for any city in the Sunbelt.
- The ZIP Codes for Savannah begin with the digits 314 .
- Savannah has a reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the United States.
- Prominent local restaurants offering typical Southern cuisine in the Savannah style include Mrs. Wilkes' Dining Room and The Lady and Sons .
- The Savannah Morning News is the city's daily newspaper.
Area colleges and universities