Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Savannah

Savannah is another city so steeped in history that one cannot possibly explore it in a week or a month. Its beginnings harken to the earliest settlers in the Americas, when Gen. James Oglethorpe got the local people, the Yamacraws, to give him the land where Savannah now sits. Little did they know.....

It was the site of skirmishes during every war, and has survived invasions, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Like Charleston, there are many brick buildings held together with earthquake bolts. The architecture of the buildings is very similar, it's the same climate. But the layout of the city is unique and from a walker's point of view, fabulous.

A square decked out for Christmas.
A grid system has been modified to include multiple small squares. Oglethorpe was familiar with many military layouts for forts and originally intended the squares to be open spaces for the colonists to perform military exercises. But now they are the most charming part of the most charming Southern City.

Driving in the streets, each square is treated as a traffic circle, keeping traffic slow. Walkers can easily make it across the street into each square and then across on varying types of walkways, as each one is unique. Of course, this time of year, the squares are decorated for Christmas and it's kind of funny to see palm trees decked out in red bows and lights. But I suppose if that's how Christmas is done here, it seems perfectly normal to everyone.

River Street is full of candy stores where
 they make pralines & fudge before your very nose!
Bay street must be on the original cliff the city was built upon. River street is down steep cobblestone driveways and is the hub for entertainment and restaurants, plus some very old hotels that overlook the river. On this Saturday afternoon, there would be a street parade at 5:30 and all afternoon there was a craft fair along the river walk. The local dance and theater schools provided entertainment to large crowds.

The river constitutes a major shipping port. I was chatting with some "Occupiers" when an extremely loud horn blew from the river. Sliding slowly by, on the other side of three story buildings was the largest ship I've ever seen, albeit my experience is quite limited, that took a full ten minutes to pass by.

A container ship passing on the river.
Many tours are available including several ghost tours and neighborhood tours based on the novel In the Garden of Good and Evil. Just outside Savannah, maybe two or three miles, the countryside opens up to reveal small farms and woodlands. It's a relatively small city to have so much importance.

A city that needs further exploration.....another southern trip seems to be in order, maybe in a year or two.





The river street, seen from Bay
Street. Note the Xs, those
are earthquake bolts holding the
building together.

One of many duplexes that face the squares.
Middle aged "hotties" who entertained at the craft fair.
Typical residential street in the historic area.
Famous Savannah songwriter, Johnny Mercer