The Grand Lady of the Old South is Preserved for Posterity
The most enduring commentary on Savannah's citizen's commitment to preserving their past, and the legacy of their ancestors, is the preservation of the park squares and the architecturally significant structures that are prevalent throughout the downtown of one of the South's busiest seaports. Savannah is located atop a bluff, along the southern banks of the Savannah River, in the low country along the northeastern shore of Georgia's abutment to the Atlantic Ocean.
In 1733, James Oglethorpe, a British General and philanthropic debtor prison activist, left his native land and sailed with 120 folks in the good ship Anne to Georgia, the last chartered colony in the colonial United States of America. The land was given by the British Government to the Georgia Trustees to establish a land where those prisoners of debtor prisons, as well as other misfortunate folks could live, without oppression, and hopefully thrive as good citizens of this new colony.
To provide relief to the debtors of England
To help the English poor and unemployed
To remove the poor, so England would not have to support them.
To provide relief to persecuted Protestants such as the Salzburgers.
To act as a buffer to protect South Carolina from Spaniards in Florida.
To strengthen the British Empire by the success of the colony and its population.
To have the colony supply raw products such as wine, hemp, silk, flax, etc. to manufacturers
To establish another market for exported English made products.
What evolved from this philanthropic seed was the fruit of a "shining city on a hill" that has endured two wars, and is now an example of civic pride and the beauty that flourishes from those endeavors. James Oglethorpe designed a city that now boasts 21 public parks (24 parks originally), which accentuate the beauty of these restored antebellum homes throughout the inner city. On Bull Street, the center of the best of Savannah's significant architecture, there is the square in which Tom Hanks sat on a park bench and recounted his story as Forest Gump in the classic film "Forest Gump." In a more northern square on that street is a monument to James Oglethorpe as shown below.
The Great Benefactor: General James Oglethorpe. photo by Stan Deatherage
Savannah as planned in England by General Oglethorpe as a grid pattern, with the original 24 aforementioned parks, and land set aside for commerce. It was built on a bluff reckoned to be about 40' high above the river on sandy soil draining well to the river, and the abutting salt marsh that is so prevalent in Georgia's coastal Plain. The colonists were given a lot in the city proper, and they could purchase farmland, but not in excess of 500 acres. Many of these original colonists in this young country, with such a disparate past did flourish, and by the look of their homes or the homes of their children, or their children’s children they certainly did leave a legacy of their accomplishment.
Perpendicular to the legendary Bull Street are these neighborhoods, where architecture is the foundation of the inhabitants' social ego: Above and below. photos by Stan Deatherage
From East River Street along the southern shore of the Savannah River to East Oglethorpe Avenue, the bustling crowds of tourists and locals negotiate the narrow streets of this scenic southern city to frequent the quaint shops, art galleries and fine eating establishments that have made this part of the city the commercial district since its inception 275 years before this day. These shops that inhabit the refurbished warehouses, and the mostly 3 to 4 story neo federal brick structures, circa late 19th century, that front the brick cobbled street of East River Street to the brick cobbled lanes throughout the district offer a gentile and hospitable ambience to the curious shopper and the hungry patron in yester years and in the here and now.
Click here and on the map to enlarge to a directional map of Savannah, Tybee Island and Hilton Head Island.
While visiting the port of Savannah, we strolled along East River Street until we found ourselves a bit famished, so we ducked into the Fiddlers Crab House for their version of the "Low Country Boil" (1/2 lb. of steamed shrimp, link of polish sausage, boiled potatoes, corn on the cob, dirty rice and coleslaw). Quite filling, and most necessary to provide the sustenance to sustain us the balance of the night as we ambled north on Bull Street to see the fine restored homes in the glow of the lamp lights, and retracing our path, we stop in small shops, an art gallery of two, and finally in a few fine parlors, the libation of fine beverages.
Along East River Street, we look down the street where so much evening activity is generated and up the Savannah River, at sunset, from which Savannah derives most of its rich past: Above and below. photos by Stan Deatherage
Featured below is the Forsyth Park Fountain (one day time picture and one night time picture shot without the benefit of a tripod) that begins on the north side of East Garner Street and runs for quite a few blocks and comprises a number of acres. The Park has a promenade that runs through the middle of the park and has for centuries been the location for many military marches and is now the starting point of the cities massive St. Patrick's Day Parade that goes on for hours. The park is one of the oldest large parks in the United States as it was part of the initial plan developed into fruition by James Oglethorpe. The Park's fountain is wrought in cast iron and painted with a luminescent fiber optic lighting system that is quite spectacular at night. The fountain was installed in 1858.
The Forsyth Park Fountain - day and night: Above and below. photos by Stan Deatherage