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A few questions about Savannah

Old Feb 10th, 2008, 07:23 PM
  #1  
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A few questions about Savannah

I am planning a trip to Savannah April 14-18, and I have a few questions.

1. I'm using a Frommer's pocket guide to Savannah (sorry Fodors, I don't want a book on both Savannah and Charleston for this trip). I went to their website and was surprised at the number of posts on their travel forum about crime. I didn't think Savannah was crime-free, but some of the posts were quite alarming indeed (tourists robbed at gunpoint,avoid being outside after dark, Secret Service agents mugged on River Street, bodies being dragged from the river, etc.!). Some of the posts were from a few years back (they have a wierd forum over there, doesn't seem to be a way to view by date). I'm a city girl (Chicagoan) and used to travelling alone so usually I feel I can take care of myself. But many of the posts said Forsyth Park was especially dangerous and I'm staying near there (Catherine Ward House.)Is it generally a safe city? Is the Frommer's website just frequented by people who had never left Wisteria Lane before? If there are unsafe areas, can you tell me where they are, so I can avoid them? The Frommer's guide has a half dozen maps in it, and they all cut off at the same place--the north edge of Forsyth Park. This doubles my concern about safety in that area. If it is dangerous, I want to be sure I don't stray or get lost when going to and from my hotel.

2. SCAD Museum of Art--does anyone know a specific date of when it will reopen? Their website says "Spring 2008" but no more details, and no one answers the phone.

3. The free trolley. Tell me honestly, how much do locals make fun of tourists who ride it? Because we have a tourist trolley here in Chicago and I wouldn't be caught dead on it. I will happily pay for a regular bus pass if it means I won't be a laughingstock. But on the other hand, every penny saved is another penny for grits. (Yes, I plan to do a lot of walking, but I always find it helpful to be familiar with public transit in case I need it).

4. Am I understanding the Chatham Area Transit website correctly, that the bus from the airport only runs during rush hour? I was originally planning to take a cab into town, but if there is a bus that I can take for less, I'm happy to do that also.

Thanks all.
coffeedrinker is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2008, 08:48 PM
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coffeedrinker, I think the people in Savannah have a lot more to think about than whether a tourist rides the free trolley or buys a bus pass. Who would notice, and why would they care?

Savannah does have a crime problem, and I would not walk anywhere after dark, especially in the River Street area or on the edges of the historic district!
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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 03:36 AM
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The free shuttle is fine, and when we rode on it a number of locals were also using it! I've never felt particularily unsafe in Savannah, but some of the areas near the historic area do seem a bit dicey. If I was a woman walking alone, I would probably rely on cabs a fair amount at night, but otherwise not get really hysterical about it.
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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 04:00 AM
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Crime in Savannah: (My son has been a student at SCAD for 4 years and we are in Savannah at least twice a year). He lives in a dangerous area which is only a few miles from Historic District.

I live near Boston and grew up near NYC. So I am not from some rural area either. There is no city I can think of where I would feel comfortable walking after dark alone - with exception of situationally crowded areas such as business district during rush hour, a theatre district when shows are letting out etc.

Savannah is no different in that regard. What is different is that the tourist-frequented area is quite small; surrounding areas can be quite sketchy. In general, the farther one goes from the Savannah River, the more sketchy it gets.

In addition, as a tree-lined city and one with park-like Squares - these areas have darker shadows and alleys where creeps can hang out.

I have been fearful driving around 10 PM from Historic District to Midtown area when I got a little lost on a side street dropping off our son. But again that is no different than any other city, in my opinion. The distances between tourist and creepy is just shorter. For example, it would take at least 30 minutes in NYC to get from midtown Manhatten to real creepiness just by distance.

I know nothing about Secret Service agents on River Street - and that area is so well lit and crowded that it is the last place I would call dangerous. Bodies in the River? No clue about that either.

Free bus: I have never seen anyone in Savannah laughing at anyone for anything other than perhaps a good joke. And tourists' means of transportation does not count as a joke. No one cares.
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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 04:04 AM
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Take the Old town trolley.We never encountered anything remotely connected with crime but we did our visiting in daytime,then freshened up and with for our dinner on River street.there was so many people around that you didn't feel unsafe .After dinner and a small walk we're usually so tired that we're glad to rest in our hotel room.Paul
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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 04:35 AM
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I lived there for 4 years coffeedrinker, and believe me, there are so many tourists all the time in the historic district, no local thinks twice about it or them or what they are doing. It's just a fact of life. Ride the trolley happily...you won't even get a 2nd glance!

The only time bodies were pulled from the river is if they had gone in intentionally or accidentally after too much to drink. The current is amazingly swift, especially if the tide is going out, and anyone who falls in is whisked away immediately.

I would consider River Street and City Market two of the safest places to be after dark. There are so many people, always, there is nothing to worry about. When everyone goes home, chances you will be as well. I would not walk from River St to your inn by yourself at night, however. Although we did walk from City Market back to where we lived on Bay at night, I was always pretty nervous about it...kind of creepy at night.

The squares along Bull St from the river to Forsyth Park are all beautiful and I absolutely felt safe during the day, but we would not walk them at night, not even the few short blocks to a friends, or the symphony. Could you do it 99% of the time and be safe? Probably, but we knew of the other times, so we just didn't do it ever.

I ran every day and my route took me down Bull St from Bay (near the river) and into and around Forsyth Park (several loops in the park). Although there are tall shrubs there, I never ever worried in the day doing this, but I would not have considered it after dusk.

Even the parks on the outer fringe (my boundary being Broad on the east, and Montgomery on the west when you are up closer to the river) were safe in the day. South of Charlton St, my western boundary narrowed some and became Barnard St, but there is no reason for you to go further west than that. By the time I got down to Forsyth Park, my east and west boundaries became Drayton and Whittaker, although I occasionally went further east on foot, but I was far more careful. That eastern boundary was slowly expanding some too, and may be wider by now. I haven't been back in the past 6 years. If you've grown up in a city, you get a feel for where you shouldn't be. Listen to yourself.

The safety boundary on the south is Park St, at the bottom of Forsyth Park. It changes radically after that point and I would not go by foot south of that area. Even driving through it in the day, I made certain my car doors were locked.

To be on the safe side, you might avoid carrying a purse even during the day if you can. That's about the worst that would happen to you in the day...a snatching, but even that is rare.

The problem stems from housing projects not too far from the east and west boundaries of the historic district. The area south of Forsyth Park was pretty grim and known then for a drug problem.

You will be there at a beautiful time of year. Hopefully azaleas will still be blooming and it's one of the most popular times for tourists so the city will be jammed. You should travel around during the day with no worries, just be careful at night. If you are going out to dinner, I'd look for a cab to get me home if you don't have a car.
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