The city of Savannah (and Georgia itself) was officially founded on February 12, 1733 by James Oglethorpe. In 1751 Savannah and the rest of Georgia became a Royal Colony, and Savannah was made the colonial capital of Georgia. Savannah was under British and Loyalist control during the American Revolution, and in 1779 at the Siege of Savannah, American and French troops tried unsuccessfully to retake the city.
The Savannah Squares
The city of Savannah is built around squares. The first squares were originally intended to give the colonists space for military exercises. A square was established for each ward of the new city, and originally there were four: Johnson Square, Wright Square (originally Percival Square after Lord Percival, but renamed in 1763 to honor James Wright, the last of Georgia’s royal governors; it’s also known as Court House Square of Post Office Square), Ellis Square, and Telfair Square (originally known as St. James Square in honor of a green space in London, renamed in 1883 to honor the Telfair family; this was early Savannah’s most fashionable ward). The next two squares were Reynolds Square (originally Lower New Square), and Oglethorpe Square (originally Upper New Square). In the 1790’s came Washington, Franklin, Warren, Columbia, Greene, and Liberty Squares. In the nineteenth century Elbert, Chippewa (where Forest Gump was filmed), Orleans, Lafayette, Pulaski, Madison, Crawford, Chatham, Monterey, Troup, Calhoun and Whitefield Squares were all added.
After 1851, the grid of wards and squares was abandoned. Forsyth Park, just south of the Monterey Ward, was set up to serve as a single large park for Savannah’s southern population.
Savannah has a large historic district which includes all of the wards and their respective squares mentioned above. Historic homes, cemeteries and forts are abundant, as are boutiques, restaurants and cultural activities. Savannah was named “America’s Most Haunted City” by the American Institute of Parapsychology in 2002, and there are ghost tours offered in the historic district. The Oatland Island Wildlife Center is a local zoo that features wildlife currently or previously found in the area.
There are a number of annual events and festivals including the Savannah Irish Festival in February, Savannah Music Festival in March, the Annual Tour of Homes and Gardens in March and April, Savannah Scottish Games and the Tybee Beach Bum Parade in May, the Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Harvest Festival in June, Savannah Greek Festival, Oktoberfest and the Savannah Film Festival in October, the Tybee Kite Festival in November, and the Holiday Tour of Homes and the Festival of Trees and Lights in December.
Tybee Island is only a twenty minute drive from Savannah, and boasts miles of beach, historic forts and museums, an historic lighthouse, and endangered bird and animal species.
Savannah is easily accessible via Interstates 95 and 16. There is an airport in the area, and Amtrak has a passenger station that is serviced by the Palmetto and Silver Service trains that run from Boston to Miami (there are three northbound and three southbound trains every day). Savannah is also located on the U.S. Intracoastal Waterway.
Small homes in older subdivisions dating from the 50s through the 70s can be found for well under $100,000 (some start as low as $40,000). Historic properties in and around Savannah top out at over $5 million.