On our way to Florida in March 2013, we stopped off in Savannah, Georgia. Savannah
is one of the oldest cities in the USA and has a beautifully restored historic
area. It is renouned for both it's history and grand old homes.
Savannah's recorded history begins in 1733. That's the year General James Oglethorpe and the 120 passengers of the good ship "Anne" landed on a bluff high along the Savannah River in February. Oglethorpe named the 13th and final American colony "Georgia" after England's King George II. Savannah became its first city.
The plan was to offer a new start for England's working poor and to strengthen the colonies by increasing trade. The colony of Georgia was also chartered as a buffer zone for South Carolina, protecting it from the advance of the Spanish in Florida.
Under the original charter, individuals were free to worship as they pleased but rum, lawyers and slavery were forbidden - for a time.
Savannah is known as America's first planned city. Oglethorpe laid the city out in a series of grids that allowed for wide open streets intertwined with shady public squares and parks that served as town meeting places and centres of business. Savannah had 24 original squares; 22 squares are still in existence today.
The green areas in the map on the left denote the location of these squares.
Pre-Civil War Savannah was praised as the most picturesque and serene city in America. It was known for its grand oaks festooned with Spanish moss and its genteel citizenry.
Savannah was the centre of the cotton trade and thrived, as did her new industries, including the export of resin and lumber. Then the boll weevils came, destroying most of the cotton and the state's economy - about the same time that the Great Depression began. The city fell into a sad state of disrepair.
It wasn't until the post-war years that Savannah bounced back again, not just economically but also culturally and aesthetically. A group of women banded together in the 1950s to preserve historic structures threatened by the wrecking ball. Their brave endeavors began the Historic Savannah Foundation, which is credited with saving the beautiful architecture that was the foundation of Savannah's charm.
Savannah's Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966. It is one of the largest historic landmarks in the country.
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