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Although it is 18 miles inland, Savannah is one of the leading seaports of the Southeastern United States, thanks to a channel which connects it to the Atlantic Ocean. The seat of Chatham County, the city has a population of approximately 142,200 and an area of approximately 78 square miles.
James Oglethorpe founded Savannah as Georgia's first colonial settlement on February 12, 1733. Settlers built it according to a design by William Bull and Oglethorpe, making it the first planned city in what is now the United States. Because Oglethorpe formed an almost instant friendship with local Indians, Savannah was able to flourish unhindered by the warfare that marked the beginnings of many other early colonies. The name Savannah derives from Sawanoki, the native name of the Shawnees.
Left: Savannah in 1734
Oglethorpe and Bull's plan for Savannah called for 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 sides of the squares. Savannah served as the chief city and capital of the Georgia Colony until after the Revolutionary War.
During the Revolutionary War, Savannah came under British and Loyalist control in 1778. French and American troops attempted to retake the city in 1779, but were unsuccessful. It remained in British hands until 1782.
Savannah's port has always been a mainstay of the city's economy, with manufacturing and tourism also of significant importance. Manufactures include paper products, aircraft, transportation equipment, chemicals, and food products.
The Savannah area is served by Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport, as well as an Amtrak terminal.
Left: Savannah skyline
Savannah is the home of five institutions offering college degrees: the Savannah campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Savannah College of Art and Design, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Savannah State University, and South University.
Savannah's architecture and history are internationally known. It houses the nation's most valuable living collection of 18th and 19th century architecture, and Georgia's colonial capital now encompasses six Historic Neighborhoods. Savannah's downtown area is the largest National Historic Landmark District in the United States. Fort Jackson, near the historic district, played an important part in the defense of Savannah during the Civil War.
Right: one of Savannah's historic neighborhoods
Other Savannah attractions include: the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the leading art galleries in the South;and the home of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts in the United States.
Savannah is home to the Savannah Sand Gnats, a minor league baseball club in the South Atlantic League.
Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin near Savannah in 1793.
The first steamship to cross an ocean, the S.S. Savannah, traveled from Savannah to Liverpool, England, in 1819.
The best-selling book and subsequent movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil were set in Savannah.
Notable persons from Savannah include: Bucky Dent, pitcher; Al Jaffee, writer and artist for Mad Magazine; Stacy Keach, actor; Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the USA; Johnny Mercer, songwriter; Kenny Rogers, baseball player; Billy Joe Royal, singer; Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.
Films which have used Savannah as a backdrop include: Hopscotch (1979), East of Eden (1980), Forrest Gump (1993), Something to Talk About (1995), The General's Daughter(1998), The Legend Of Bagger Vance (1999).
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This page was last updated on June 25, 2017.