Savannah was settled in 1733 by Gen. Oglethorpe, the founder of the youngest of the 13 original states, and owes much of its present beauty to the foresight of the plan he laid out. His object was to provide an asylum for the poor of England and the Protestants of all nations. John and Charles Wesley visited the settlement in 1736, and George Whitefield reached it in 1737. In the early troubles between the British and Spanish colonists Oglethorpe and his settlers played a prominent part, penetrating to the walls of St. Augustine. In 1778 Savannah was captured by the British, who repulsed a Franco-American attempt to retake it the following year. The port of Savannah was closed to commerce by the Federal fleet from 1861 to 1865, and Sherman occupied the city in Dec. 1864, at the end of his triumpant 'March through Georgia'. Since the war its progres has been rapid. Savannah contained 5195 inhab. in 1810; 15,312 in 1850; and 30,681 in 1880. -- The first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean started from Savannah in 1819.
The visitor may begin with a glance at the warehouse and wharves at the foot, and at the busy traffic of Bay St. on the top, of the bluffs overhanging the river. Among the buildings in this part of the city are the City Exchange or City Hall, Custom House and Post Office. We then follow Bull Street towards the S., crossing Johnson Square, with a Monument to Gen. Greene, erected in 1829. In the building at the N. E. corner of Bull St. and Broughton St. the Ordinance of Secession was passed on Jan. 21st, 1861.
This is the current City Hall. The one referred to in the above Paragraph was made of wood and was destroyed to make way for this one. A plaque nearby reads: "City Hall is the first building constructed by the citizens of Savannah expressly and exclusively to serve as the seat of municipal government. Opened on January 2, 1906, it has served continuously in this role since that date. City Hall was preceded on this site by the City Exchange, built in 1799 and razed in 1904. Along with municipal offices, the City Exchange housed the custom house, a post office, and newspaper offices. City Hall was designed by Savannah architect Hyman W. Witcover and built 1904-1905 by the Savannah Contracting Company during the administration of Mayor Herman Myers. It is a Renaissance Revival structure of granite and limestone exterior. The original copper dome was first gold leafed in 1987."
This is the Customhouse. A plaque near it reads: "The U.S. Customhouse stands on historic ground. In a house on this site James Edward Oglethorpe, founder of the colony of Georgia, lived for a time, and in 1736 John Wesley preached his first sermon at Savannah in a building which stood on the rear of the lot.
"The cornerstone of the Customhouse was laid in 1848. The building was completed in 1852 at a cost of $146,000. Built of granite from Quincy, Mass., the structure is one of the most handsome and substantial public buildings erected in that era. The magnificent fluted columns have tobacco leaves as capitals instead of the traditional decorations. The columns, each weighing 15 tons, were brought to Savannah by sailing vessels. The unusual inside stairway divides at one-half height forming into circular stairs with no perpendicular support.
"Although the building is used primarily by the United States Customs Service, it houses several Federal agencies. In earlier years it also served as a Post Office and Federal courthouse. In 1859-1860 the celebrated cases growing out of slave-running by the yacht 'Wanderer' were tried here by Justice Wayne of the Supreme Court."
This is the Greene Monument. A plaque nearby reads: "Beneath the Monument in this square reposes the remains of Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, of Rhode Island, who died near Savannah on June 19, 1786, at Mulberry Grove Plantation which had been granted to him by the State in appreciation of his services in the Revolution.
"The 50 foot, white marble obelisk, designed by the well-known architect, William Strickland, was completed in 1830. The original cornerstone was laid here on March 21, 1825, by Greene's old friend, the Marquis de Lafayette. At the dedicatory ceremony General Lafayette said:
" 'The great and good man to whose memory we are paying a tribute of respect, affection, and regret, has acted in revolutionary contest a part so glorious and so important that in the very name of Greene are remembered, all the virtues and talents which can illustrate the patriot, the statesman, and the military leader...'
"General Greene's remains were originally interred in the burial ground now known as Colonial Cemetery. His exact resting place was a matter of doubt and speculation for many years. The remains of the famed Revolutionary hero were found in the Graham vault in 1901, and were reinterred beneath this monument the following year."
N.B. The building that is mentioned on the street corner of Broughton and Bull is a Jewelry Store and there is no plaque that discusses the secession.
Savannah's export-trade is very extensive, the chief articles being cotton (second to New Orleans alone), timber, rice, and naval stores. Its manufactures (value $4,500,000 in 1890) include railway-cars, fetilizers, flour, and iron. A visit should be paid to one of the Rice Mills (River St.), and one of the Cotton Compresses (at the wharves).
The Cotton Exchange is now a Freemason Hall. A plaque nearby reads: "The Savannah Cotton Exchange building was completed in 1887 during the era when Savannah ranked first as a cotton seaport on the Atlantic and second in the world. In its heyday as a cotton port over two million bales a year moved through Savannah. The Cotton Exchange was the center of activity in the staple which dominated this city's economic life before its evolution into a leading industrial seaport.
"The Exchange was designed by the nationally-known Boston architect, William Gibbons Preston (1844-1910). His design won out in a competition participated in by eleven architects. The Exchange is believed to be one of the few structures in the world erected over an existing public street."