Savannah, city (1990 pop. 137,560), seat of Chatham co., SE Ga., a port of entry on the Savannah River near its mouth; inc. 1789. A rail, fishing, and industrial center, it is a leading southern port for the import and export of a wide variety of manufactured goods. Shipping is a major industry, but tourism is becoming increasingly important. Savannah is the seat of Savannah State Univ. and Armstrong Atlantic State Univ. (both part of the University System of Georgia) as well as the Savannah College of Art and Design. The Telfair Museum of Art is also there. Army and coast guard units occupy the Hunter Army Airfield. The well-planned city has wide, shaded streets and many parks; magnolias, pines, and ancient oaks are indigenous there. Several beach and island resorts as well as a wildlife refuge are nearby.

Points of Interest

Savannah's historic district was designated a national historic landmark in 1966; many of its 18th- and 19th-century homes have been restored. Despite devastating fires in 1796 and 1820, many old buildings have survived, including the Pirates' House (1754), an old seaman's inn mentioned in Stevenson's Treasure Island; the Herb House (1734), the oldest existing building in Georgia; and the Pink House (1789), site of Georgia's first bank. The mansion birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (built 1819-21) is owned and operated by the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. as a memorial to their founder. The monument and grave of Nathanael Greene are in Johnson Square. The many churches include the Lutheran Church of Ascension (dating from 1741); the Independent Presbyterian Church (1890s), a replica of an earlier church destroyed by fire and the scene of Woodrow Wilson's marriage to Ellen Axson; and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (1876), one of the largest Roman Catholic churches in the South.


Savannah is Georgia's oldest city; it was founded by James Oglethorpe in 1733 and served as the colonial seat of government. During the American Revolution the British took Savannah on Dec. 29, 1778, and held it until July, 1782. A land-sea force of French and Americans tried to retake the city in 1779, first by siege and then by direct assault (on Oct. 9), but failed dismally. Savannah was the state capital from 1782 to 1785. With the growth of trade, and especially after the invention of the cotton gin and the construction of railroads extending to the cotton fields of central Georgia, the city became a rival of Charleston as a commercial center. The first steamship to cross the Atlantic, the Savannah, sailed from there to Liverpool in 1819. In the Civil War, Fort Pulaski, on an island near the mouth of the Savannah River, was captured by Federals in 1862, but the city did not fall until Dec. 21, 1864, when Sherman entered.

Savannah, river, 314 mi (505 km) long, formed by the confluence of the Tugaloo and Seneca rivers and flowing SE to the Atlantic Ocean; with the Tugaloo it forms the entire S.C.-Ga. boundary. Savannah, Ga., the largest port on the river, is the head of navigation for oceangoing ships. Clark Hill Dam (completed 1954) and Hartwell Dam (1961) above Augusta, Ga., are part of the Savannah River basin development plan; the U.S. Department of Energy's Savannah River Site, which manufactures nuclear weapons, is also on the river.

Savannah is a city located in the state of Georgia, United States. It is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Chatham County. Savannah was established in 1733 and was the first colonial and state capital of Georgia. 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, the Savannah Historic District, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States (designated by the U.S. government in 1966).

Location and geography

Savannah is located at (32.050706, -81.103762). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 78.1 square miles (202.3 km²), of which, 74.7 square miles (193.6 km²) of it is land and 3.4 square miles (8.7 km²) of it (4.31%) is water. It is the primary port on the Savannah River and is located along the U.S. Intracoastal Waterway.

Because of its marshiness and flat topography, Savannah is prone to flooding. Four canals and 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.


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
Due to its proximity to the 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 the largest principal city of the Savannah-Hinesville-Fort Stewart CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Savannah and Hinesville-Fort Stewart metropolitan areas, which had a combined estimated population of just over 394,000 in 2006 (up from 364,914 at the 2000 census).

Savannah's population was estimated to be 127,889 in 2006, down from the official 2000 U.S. Census report of 131,510 residents. However, over this same six-year period the estimated population of the Savannah Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as Bryan, Chatham, and Effingham counties, grew from 294,000 to 320,013, an increase of 9 percent. Savannah's MSA is ranked third among Georgia cities.

As of the census of 2000, 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.


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 per year was exported to England.

The Savannah region's mild climate offered perfect conditions for growing cotton, which became 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 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 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.

Joining the Georgia Port, manufacturing and the military, the Tourism industry rounds out Savannah's four major economic drivers. In 2006, the Savannah Area Convention & Visitors Bureau reports over 6.85 million people visited the city. Lodging, dining, entertainment,and visitor-related transportation accounts for over $2 billion dollars in visitors spending per year while employing 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 famous 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 the airport.


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

The city is the home of four colleges and universities offering bachelor's, master's and professional doctorate degree programs: Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah State University, and South University. Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. programs in engineering are also offered through Georgia Tech Savannah, the Savannah campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Georgia Southern University maintains a satellite campus in the downtown area. Savannah Technical College, a public, 2-year institution of technical and adult education also operates in the city. The Skidaway Institute of Oceanography is a marine science research institute located on the northern end of Skidaway Island near Savannah.

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 Airport is located west of Savannah off Interstate 95. Airlines serving this airport are Delta, Delta Connection, Northwest Airlink, Continental Express, United Express, US Airways, Airtran and American Eagle. DayJet provides 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. Savannah is visited infrequently by special excursion trains operated by GrandLuxe Rail Journeys, and Georgia's SAM Shortline Specials.

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

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 Tybee Island

Victory Drive (U.S. 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 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.


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.

Consolidation with Chatham County

In 2003, Savannah and Chatham County 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 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 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, with a population of more than 205,000 (by state law, the almost 35,000 residents of the seven smaller incorporated towns remain independent; they are not included in a Savannah-Chatham consolidation plan).

Points of interest

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 Island, formerly known as "Savannah Beach", is the site of the Tybee 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 Bridge.

The Savannah 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 24 squares. 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 1950s. Elbert and Liberty Squares were paved over to make way for a realignment of US 17, 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. The city has recently razed the City Market parking garage in order to build a new parking facility underground, with a new park on the street level.

Historic sites

Historic churches and synagogues

Savannah is home to a number of historic houses of worship. The First Bryan Baptist Church is an African-American church that has its beginnings in 1788. The original land the church is on was purchased by Andrew Bryan, the congregation's founder, in 1793, with the actual building the First Bryan Baptist Church now worships in being constructed in 1873. However, in 1832, a split in the congregation produced the 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.

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


Television in the city consist of all the major broadcast networks in the United States, such as FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, The CW, and MyNetworkTV. Savannah also has a PBS affiliate, which is partnered by South Carolina Educational Television . WXSX serves as an MTV2 affiliate, and W48CX, or also known as WHHI-TV, is an independent station.

WSAV 3 serves as an NBC affiliate on analog, and on digital television it serves for MyNetworkTV. WTOC 11 is under CBS, WTGS 28 is under FOX, WJCL 22 is ABC, and WGSA 13 falls under the affiliation of The CW Network.

Performing Arts

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. Some notable Savannah based arts organizations contributing to the city's cultural fabric are:


Savannah Danse Theatre: Savannah Danse Theatre was established in 1998 as a nonprofit organization and has grown to become the city’s largest dance company. Performing both the traditional classics as well as original works, Savannah Danse Theatre is also well known for their annual production of The Nutcracker at The Historic Lucas Theatre For The Arts.


The Coastal Jazz Association: Presents a variety of jazz performances throughout the year in addition to hosting the annual Savannah Jazz Festival.

The Savannah Children's Choir: choir for children in 2nd through 8th grades that performs throughout the community and in annual holiday and spring concerts.

The Savannah Choral Society: choral ensemble with members from around the greater Savannah region.

The 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

The Savannah Music Festival: An annual music festival of diverse artists.

The Savannah Sinfonietta: professional orchestra, which presents an annual season of classical and popular concert performances.

The Savannah Winds: Amateur concert band hosted by the music department of Armstrong Atlantic State University.


Cardinal Rep: A community theater with an emphasis on professional aesthetic and community-building outreach. The productions of Cardinal Rep are focused around new and unproduced works, literary adaptations and regional premieres. 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 Children's Theatre: A non-profit, year-round amateur 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.

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 the well-liked holiday show, A Christmas Tradition.


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 Jefferson. 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.

Sister cities

Savannah, Georgia has three sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:
Batumi (Ajaria, Georgia)
Patras (Akhaia, Greece)
Kaya (Burkina Faso)

See also

Further reading


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


External links

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