In Savannah, every other street—north, south, west, and east—is punctuated by greenery. The grid of 21 scenic squares was laid out in 1733 by Gen. James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia. The design—still in use—has been called “one of the world’s most revered city plans.” It’s said that if Savannah didn’t have its history and architecture, it would be worth a visit just to see the city layout.
Bull Street is the dividing line between east and west. On the south side are odd-numbered buildings, on the north side even numbered.
Neighborhoods in Brief
The Historic District -- The primary reason to visit Savannah, the Historic District encompasses both the Riverfront and the City Market. It’s officially bordered by the Savannah River and Forsyth Park at Gaston Street, and Montgomery and Price streets. Within its borders are more than 2,350 architecturally and historically significant buildings in a 2 1/2-square-mile area.
Riverfront -- River Street is where the Historic District meets the Savannah River, though in terms of architecture and atmosphere it is a little different (and lower down) than the more stately streets to the south. Once lined with warehouses holding King Cotton, it has been the subject of massive urban renewal, turning this strip into a row of restaurants, art galleries, shops, and rowdy bars. The original source of the area’s growth was the river, which offered a prime shipping avenue for New World goods bound for European ports. In 1818, about half of Savannah fell under quarantine during a yellow-fever epidemic. River Street never fully recovered and fell into disrepair until its rediscovery in the mid-1970s.
City Market -- Two blocks from River Street and bordering the Savannah River, the City Market district was the former social and business mecca of Savannah (the actual market building was demolished in the 1950s). The city of Savannah decided to save what remained of the district in the 1980s. Today the district comprises a 4-block area of restored warehouses and shop fronts adjacent to Ellis Square, offering everything from antiques to collectibles, including many Savannah-made products. And everything from seafood and pizza to French and Italian cuisine is served here. Live music often fills the nighttime air. Some of the best jazz in the city is presented here in various clubs.
Victorian District -- The Victorian District, south of the Historic District, holds some of the finest examples of post–Civil War architecture in the Deep South. The district is bounded by Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and by East Broad, Gwinnett, and Anderson streets. Houses in the district are characterized by gingerbread trim, stained-glass windows, and imaginative architectural details. In all, the district encompasses an area of nearly 50 blocks, spread across some 165 acres. The entire district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Most of the two-story homes are wood frame and were constructed in the late 1800s on brick foundations. The district, overflowing from the historic inner core, became the first suburb of Savannah.
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