Savannah is the oldest city in the U.S. state of Georgia and is the county seat of Chatham County. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. A strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the American Civil War, Savannah is today an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport. It is Georgia's fifth-largest city and third-largest metropolitan area.
Each year Savannah attracts millions of visitors to its cobblestone streets, parks, and notable historic buildings: the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America), the Georgia Historical Society (the oldest continually operating historical society in the South), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South's first public museums), the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African-American Baptist congregations in the United States), Temple Mickve Israel (the third oldest synagogue in America), and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America).
Savannah's downtown area, which includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah Victorian Historic District, and 22 parklike squares, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States (designated by the U.S. government in 1966). Downtown Savannah largely retains the original town plan prescribed by founder James Oglethorpe (a design now known as the Oglethorpe Plan). Savannah was the host city for the sailing competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta.
Arts and culture
Beyond its architectural significance as being the nation's largest, historically restored urban area, the city of Savannah has a rich and growing performing arts scene, offering cultural events throughout the year.
Books and literature
- The Savannah Book Festival – an annual book fair held on Presidents' Day weekend in the vicinity of historic Telfair and Wright squares, includes free presentations by more than 35 contemporary authors. Special events with featured writers are offered at nominal cost throughout the year.
- Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home – a museum house dedicated to the work and life of the acclaimed fiction writer Flannery O'Connor, who was born in Savannah. In addition to its museum, the house offers literary programming, including the annual Ursrey Lecture honoring American fiction writers
Savannah Dance Theatre – established in 1998 as a nonprofit organization, it has grown to become the city’s largest dance company.
- The Coastal Jazz Association – presents a variety of jazz performances throughout the year in addition to hosting the annual Savannah Jazz Festival.
- Savannah Children's Choir – non-profit, auditioned choir for children in 2nd through 8th grades that performs throughout the community and in annual holiday and spring concerts.
- Savannah Concert Association – presents a variety of guest artists for chamber music performances each season. Performances are generally held in the Lucas Theatre For The Arts.
- Savannah Music Festival – an annual music festival of diverse artists which is Georgia's largest musical arts festival and is nationally recognized as one of the best music festivals in the world.
- The Savannah Orchestra – Savannah's professional orchestra, which presents an annual season of classical and popular concert performances.
- The Savannah Philharmonic – professional orchestral and choral organization presenting year round concerts (classical, pops, education).
- The Savannah Winds – amateur concert band hosted by the music department of Armstrong Atlantic State University
- The Armstrong Youth Orchestra – Savannah's professional orchestra for elementary, middle school, high school and some college students.
Several sludge metal groups have emerged from Savannah. Included in these are Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk and Circle Takes the Square
Theater and performance
- Muse Arts Warehouse – founded in 2010, Muse Arts Warehouse is a nonprofit organization committed to community-building through the arts by providing a venue that is available, affordable, and accessible to Savannah's individual artists, arts organizations and the public.
- Savannah Children's Theatre – a non-profit, year-round drama theater company geared toward offering elementary through high school students (and adults) opportunities for participation in dramatic and musical productions.
- Savannah Community Theatre – a full theater season with a diverse programming schedule, featuring some of Savannah's finest actors in an intimate, three-quarter-round space.
- Little Theatre of Savannah – founded in 1950, The Little Theatre of Savannah, Inc., is a nonprofit, volunteer-based community organization dedicated to the celebration of the theater arts. Recognizing the unique social value, expressive fulfillment and opportunity for personal growth that theater provides its participants, the Little Theatre of Savannah invites all members of the community to participate both on- and off-stage.
- The Savannah Theatre – Savannah's only fully professional resident theater, producing music revues with live singers, dancers and the most rockin' band in town. Performances happen year-round, with several different titles and a holiday show.
- Lucas Theater of the Arts – founded in December 1921 Lucas Theater is one of the theaters owned by the Savannah College of Art and Design that is used for the Savannah Film Festival.
- Trustees Theater – once known as the Weis Theater, which opened February 14, 1946, this theater reopened as the Trustees Theater on May 9, 1998 and hosts a variety of performances and concerts sponsored by the Savannah College of Art and Design (who also owns the building).
Points of interest
Savannah's architecture, history, and reputation for Southern charm and hospitality are internationally known. The city's former promotional name was "Hostess City of the South," a phrase still used by the city government. An earlier nickname was "the Forest City", in reference to the large population and species of oak trees that flourish in the Savannah area. These trees were especially valuable in shipbuilding during the 19th century. Each year, Savannah attracts millions of visitors from across the country and around the world. Savannah's downtown area is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States.
The city's location offers visitors access to the coastal islands and the Savannah Riverfront, both popular tourist destinations. Tybee Island, formerly known as "Savannah Beach", is the site of the Tybee Island Light Station, the first lighthouse on the southern Atlantic coast. Other picturesque towns adjacent to Savannah include the shrimping village of Thunderbolt and three residential areas that began as summer resort communities for Savannahians: Beaulieu,Vernonburg, and the Isle of Hope.
The Savannah International Trade & Convention Center is located on Hutchinson Island, across from downtown Savannah and surrounded by the Savannah River. The Belles Ferry connects the island with the mainland, as does the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge.
The Savannah Civic Center on Montgomery Street is host to more than nine hundred events each year.
Savannah has consistently been named one of "America's Favorite Cities" by Travel + Leisure. In 2012, the magazine rated Savannah highest in "Quality of Life and Visitor Experience."Savannah was also ranked first for "Public Parks and Outdoor Access," visiting in the Fall, and as a romantic escape. Savannah was also named as America's second-best city for "Cool Buildings and Architecture," behind only Chicago
Various centers for shopping exist about the city including Abercorn Common, Savannah Historic District, Oglethorpe Mall, Savannah Mall and Abercorn Walk.
- Club One – home of The Lady Chablis and made famous in the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
- Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens - a developing botanical garden located at Bamboo Farm, a former USDA plant-introduction station south of Savannah that began operations in 1919.
- Oatland Island Wildlife Center – located east of Savannah, a facility owned and operated by the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education and featuring wildlife from surrounding coastal Georgia and South Carolina.
- Ossabaw Island – an environmentally protected and commercially undeveloped barrier island south of Savannah.
- Pinkie Masters Bar - a popular Savannah watering hole and the site of presidential visits and political campaigns. Pinkie Masters was a local political figure and a friend of President Jimmy Carter, who made several visits to the bar and the city.
- Pirates' House – historic restaurant and tavern located in downtown Savannah.
- Saint Patrick's Day Celebrations – Savannah holds annual celebrations in honor of Saint Patrick's Day. The actual parade route changes from year to year but usually travels through the Savannah Historic District and along Bay Street. The Savannah Waterfront Association has an annual celebration on River Street that is reminiscent of Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
- Skidaway Island – an affluent suburban community south of Savannah that hosts Skidaway Island State Park, the University of GeorgiaAquarium and the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography.
- Tybee Island – popular Atlantic resort town 17 mi (27 km) east of Savannah, with public beaches, a lighthouse, and other attractions.