Savannah, Georgia: Population = 145,674 (Metro area = 379,199), elevation = 49 feet, average January low temp = 38.9, Average July high temp = 92, average sunny days = 216, annual snowfall = 0.3”, annual rainfall = 48.8”, air quality index = 77, water quality index = 47, comfort index = 30, median age of residents = 32.4
The city of Savannah and the State of Georgia were founded in 1733 by General James Oglethorp for the British. When he arrived with his settlers, he had a plan for how a city should be laid out. His vision for a city included many square wards. Each ward had a central park, with 4 long blocks of residential North of the park, 4 short blocks of commercial East and West of the park, and 4 more long blocks South of the park. Today there are 24 wards in the Downtown Historic District. The parks are lush with gardens and trees, fountains and statues, and surrounded by stately old mansions. It makes for a beautiful city, but it gets complicated driving between all those parks with their one-way streets going every direction except where I want to go.
By the time of the Revolutionary War, Savannah was the southernmost commercial port of the Thirteen Colonies. The British invaded and took the city 1778. The next year the Americans and their new allies, the French, beseiged and attacked the British but were soundly defeated. The British held the city until 1782.
After the War of 1812, several forts were built in along the American coast to prevent further invasions. Fort Pulaski was one of these. The fort lies on an island at the mouth of the Savannah River. It was built of brick walls eleven feet thick and thought to be invulnerable to the smooth bored cannons of the period. When Georgia seceded from the USA, Confederate forces took Fort Pulaski and reinforced it against attack. The Union forces, under cover of night, installed batteries of the newly invented rifled cannons and proceeded to knock down the walls. When they were close to getting a clear shot at the powder magazines, the Confederate general surrendered the fort to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. At the end of the Civil War, General Sherman’s march to the sea’s objective was Savannah. A peaceful surrender was negotiated and destruction avoided.
Today’s Savannah is a combination of the very old and the very new. From the historic old downtown, with its many wards, wide boulevards with canopies of huge live oaks pass by the many stately mansions, old and new. Even when viewed in December, the gardens are thick with every kind of flower and tree.
Next time: more Savannah