Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top 10 Reasons to Stroll into Savannah

1. Back in 1976, I took a solo trip to Florida. Interstate 95 South was not complete and you had to get off the Super Highway in Georgia and cross the Savannah Bridge.  I don't remember when I stopped liking crossing bridges but I remember the bridge headed into Savannah as being one of my first challenges. All I can remember vividly of Georgia was the bridge being high, bumper to bumper traffic and hanging a right almost immediately after getting off the bridge. The journal I kept from this trip was my very first travelogue. I wrote that the town looked very depressed with dilapidated shacks on the side of the road. I was just passing through.

 Old Talmadge Memorial Bridge
 Wikipedia says:old Talmadge cantilever truss bridge (built in 1953), which had become a danger for large ships entering the Port of Savannah replaced. (Uh-huh, I thought so back in 1976).

My, have things changed!
2. Interstate 95 goes straight through now and the road no longer detours through Savannah but you are going to want to take the alternative Route 17 right on it to downtown, the historic district.

 Almost 40 Years later,  I went back into the city of Savannah and stayed for a few days. As the song Georgia by Boz Scaggs says, What a nice surprise! The new bridge was completed in 1991.
 I was waiting!

3. If you say Savannah, I say Oglethorpe.

James Edward Oglethorpe established the English colony of Georgia in 1733. King George II granted the charter for the new colony which prohibited slavery, lawyers, Catholics and hard liquor, all of which dissipated in time, with the reversal of allowing slavery. Georgia was the only colony to prohibit slavery. It was legalized by royal decree in 1751. This was due to the campaigning of preacher, George Whitefield of England.  During his visit to America, he felt Georgia would not be prosperous without slave laborers. Slavery was not abolished in the United States until the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. Georgia was the Thirtieth Colony of the original British colonies. This bench marks the spot where Oglethorpe first pitched his tent

4. The new colonists would not have had such an easy transition had it not been for Tomochichi, leader of the Indian tribe that occupied the bluffs that Oglethorpe intended to settle upon.  Mary Musgrove known as Coosaponakeesa among the Creek Indians was the daughter of an English trader and a Creek Indian mother, she served as a translator and guide to peaceful negotiations. She is compared to Pocahontas and Sacagawea for her accomplishments in assisting the colonists in the early days of Georgia.

Photograph of a engraving of Tomochichi and his nephew, Toonahawi
by John Farber Jr, around 1734-1735.
information obtained from georgiaencyclopedia.org and Wikipedia-Tomchichi.

5. Oglethorpe's plan for the city was similar to Penn's Philadelphia Plan in that he used squares as the focal point. Originally, there were four squares that grew to 24 squares at on time. Today there are 22. The four original squares in Savannah are now named Johnson, Wright, Ellis and Telfair. I will take you on the history of the squares journey in an upcoming blog.  Trivia question for the locals: name the five Philadelphia Squares.

6. An African American Monument on River Street in Savannah, Georgia commemorates the Africans that were brought to this area through the port of Savannah.

Inscribed at the base: Maya Angelou's words

“We were stolen, sold and bought together from the African continent. We got on the slave ships together. We lay back to belly in the holds of the slave ships in each others excrement and urine together, sometimes died together, and or lifeless bodies thrown overboard together.”

If that does not make you stop and pause, I don't know what would.

7. Georgia started with Savannah and the work that has been done to preserve its history belongs to Seven Ladies. There is so much to see historically.  I have read there has been a bit of a friendly girl fight among the sisters of Savannah and Charleston on who has the prettier city. I am not getting into that sticky wicket. You can start at the Old Town Trolley Welcome Center strategically placed just over the bridge or go further into town to the Savannah Visitor's Center and History Museum.

8. One of the first things you will want to do is take a trolley tour to get yourself acclimated.  It is a big historic district that is very navigable and walking friendly but you have to know where to go.
Get a map!  I also highly recommend The Essential Guide to Historic Savannah available at the Trolley Stop.  It is where I was able to match up most of the photographs I took while I was in Savannah last year.

9. Timing is always a factor when you are visiting as a tourist. They were gearing up in February.

10.  Savannah is host to the one of the largest St. Patrick's Parade in the country.  See if you can spot
St. Patrick. He just may bring you the luck of the Irish. If you are going and I wish I were, here is a link to the parade route map in 2016.

There is so much more to tell about my trip to Savannah, this is just the basics.

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