I had the opportunity to go to Savannah last week and spend some time there. It’s something I’ve wanted to do every time I visit Savannah on my way either to or from North Carolina. A day or two is never enough though, so when a friend said I could stay at his house (built in 1848) before his new renters arrived, I jumped at the chance.
It was also an opportunity to take things a little slower, including the journey there. So I went up by train on the Amtrak Silver Meteor from Winter Park.
It’s the nicest way to go on a long journey. If you’ve read my previous blog, you know that I like to travel by train. The first thing you realize is that Savannah is out of the way of everything else. You don’t pass through Savannah by mistake, if you find yourself in Savannah it’s because you made the effort. Downtown Savannah is 10 miles from Interstate 1-95 and there’s not much in between. It’s not on the way to anywhere else. It used to be cut off from South Carolina just across the river, using ferry boats to transport people and goods until the first permanent bridge was built in 1922.
That is one of the reasons Savannah has been kept in a more true historical state. It’s out of the way. In the 20th century when bigger was considered better, Savannah was out of sight, there really aren’t too many tall or big buildings. There are a few monstrosities as in any city, but for the most part Savannah has managed to keep it’s scale, which is exactly how General James Edward Oglethorpe meticulously laid it out back in 1733.
In the subsequent years Savannah was added to, with the same street layout as it started, with public squares, flanked by public buildings on each Eastern and Western side, with residential homes on the north and south of each square. It was described by visitors in the 1800’s as being more of a collection of small villages, which go to make up the city. Savannah is currently enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. Savvy people bought real estate in decline in the 1980’s and 1990’s, which are now historic houses with soaring values.
If you like history, walking and photography, Savannah is a great place to go. You can spend hours walking around the city with picturesque views every way you turn. And when you need to re-fuel or take a break, it has a multitude of great bars and restaurants where you can enjoy local dishes such as shrimp n’ grits and wash it down with a locally brewed beer.
Walking the streets in the early morning or early evening you will see some really interesting shadows and shapes from the leafy Live Oak trees casting their shadows on the red brick buildings. To add immense value to your walking you can go online and from your phone you can do a self guided walking tour. Simply click on the link for the square you are in and you will see images of specific houses and buildings along with their history. Stories of murders through the ages or historic meetings and events that took place.
If you’re into photography and want a place where you don’t have to go crazy searching for material to photograph, Savannah is like a Universal Studios backlot which has been specially made for you. The history is amazing and abundant. It’s a key story in how the United States was colonized.