Savannah is the largest city in the state of Georgia. The city covers an area of seventy-eight square miles and has a population of one hundred and thirty-two thousand residents. In 1733, General James Oglethorpe and one hundred and thirteen colonists landed at Yamacraw Bluff. This would become the unofficial founding year of the city. The colonists developed strong personal relationships with the Native Americans in the area, and as a result was able to thrive as a flourishing colony. In 1751, Savannah became a Royal Colony and slaves were brought into the colony. The area’s marshes were refitted into rice fields and worked by slaves imported from Africa. By 1773, the city had established itself as a major trade hub of the South Atlantic.
Today, the major economic activities of Savannah center around manufacturing, the military and the tourism industries. Last year the city had over six million visitors come to the city. The tourism industry adds over two billion dollars to the city’s economy and employs seventeen thousand people in the city. The educational needs of the city are met by four colleges and universities. These include Savannah College of Art and Design, South University, Armstrong Atlantic State University and Savannah State University. Other prominent schools in the city include Windsor Forest High School, Beach High School, St. Vincent’s Academy, Benedictine Military School, Savannah High School, Savannah Christian Preparatory School, Jenkins High School, Savannah Technical College, Georgia Tech Savannah, Saint Andrew’s School, Savannah Arts Academy and Johnson High School.
A prominent attraction in the city is the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. This Roman Catholic cathedral was erected in the nineteenth century, but caught fire in 1876. The church was reconstructed and by 1899 was open to the public once again. In the early 1960s the church once again went through an extensive reconstruction designed to modernize its facilities. It was upgraded with new plumbing, modern heating and lighting, a new plaza and a new pulpit. Another popular attraction in Savannah is Fort James Jackson. Fort James Jackson is a nineteenth century fort that is home to the Fort Jackson Maritime Museum. This fort was constructed in 1812 and was designed to protect the city from a naval attack. It was one of three Confederate forts that were used to defend the city from Union forces. When the Union army took Savannah in 1864, Fort Jackson was immediately seized. In 1924, it was bought by the city with the intention of being used for a park. In the 1970s the fort was restored and in 2000 became a Historic Landmark.
Located just outside the city of Savannah, but a stop well worth making, is Bonaventure Cemetery. Bonaventure Cemetery is located on a beautiful bluff overlooking the Wilmington River and is just east of the city. This cemetery gained notoriety when in was featured in the John Berendt novel, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and in the subsequent movies based on the novel. Bonaventure Cemetery is situated on one hundred and sixty acres that was originally part of a plantation owned by John Mullryne during the nineteenth century and called Evergreen Cemetery. In 1907, it was purchased by the city of Savannah and renamed Bonaventure Cemetery. The cemetery is beautiful and very scenic and many prominent people are buried there. Some notable people buried in the cemetery include novelist Conrad Aiken, Confederate Brigadier General Claudius Charles Wilson, Governor Edward Telfair, actor James Neill, actress Edythe Chapman, photographer Jack Leigh and singer Johnny Mercer.
Another popular stop for tourists in Savannah is Forsyth Park. Forsyth Park is located in the historic district of the city and covers an area of thirty acres. This park has beautiful walking paths, a children’s playground, Fragrant Garden for the Blind, a Confederate memorial and a large fountain. The Confederate Memorial Statue was donated by the Monroe County Courthouse and is located in the center of the park. It was erected to commemorate those soldiers who gave their lives for the Confederacy. The fountain is located at the northern end of Forsyth park and was erected in 1858. It was built in the style that the fountains at the Place de la Concorde in Paris are made. A historic site in the city is the Wormsloe Historic Site. This site encompasses part of Wormsloe Plantation and covers eight hundred and twenty-two acres. Wormsloe Plantation was an estate started by Noble Jones, one of Georgia’s colonial founders, in 1736. The state of Georgia received most of Wormsloe Plantation in the early 1970s and opened it as a state historic site by 1979. The site contains the ruins of Noble Jones house, a museum and an exhibit that details the daily life of colonial Georgia.
One of the many museums in the city is the Telfair Museum of Art. The Telfair Museum of Art is considered to be the first public art museum in the South. It was founded on the bequest of Mary Telfair and opened to the general public in 1886. The museum contains a collection of over forty five hundred European and American paintings, sculptures and drawings. The collection is located in three buildings; the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Telfair Academy of Arts and the Owens Thomas House. Visitors can see period style rooms, a community gallery, a children’s gallery, two galleries for special exhibitions and an outdoor sculpture terrace.
Other popular attractions located in Savannah, Georgia include Mercer Williams House Museum, Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Andrew Low House, Savannah College of Art and Design, 700 Kitchen Cooking School, Savannah Theater, First African Baptist Church, Skidaway Island State Park, Oatland Island Wildlife Center, Tybee Island, Dolphin Magic, Olde Pink House, Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, Colonial Park Cemetery, Lafayette Square, Mickve Israel Temple, The Pirates’ House, Davenport House Museum, Fort McAllister, Savannah Candy Kitchen, Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge, Hamilton Turner House, River Street Riverboat, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home and McQueens Island Historic Trail.