Savannah is such a warm, welcoming city that you may find it especially easy to get acquainted with the "Hostess City," as it is known to those smitten by its hospitality and charm. As America's first planned city, Savannah is perhaps most recognized for its 22 squares, the diverse group of parks that dot the Historic District. The city also remains connected with its namesake river; it is home to a busy commercial port, and towering cargo ships are a common sight along River Street.
Savannah, Georgia's oldest city, began its modern history on February 12, 1733, when James Oglethorpe and 120 colonists arrived at Yamacraw Bluff on the Savannah River to what would be the last British colony in the New World. For a century and a half the city flourished as a bustling port, and was the departure point for cotton being shipped around the world.
Although Savannah was spared during the Civil War, the city fell on hard times soon afterward. Cobwebs replaced cotton in the dilapidated riverfront warehouses. Historic buildings languished; many were razed or allowed to decay. The tide finally turned in the 1950s, when residents began a concerted effort—which continues to this day—to restore and preserve the city's unique architectural heritage.
The past plays an important role in Savannah. Standing in a tranquil square surrounded by historic homes, it's easy to feel as if you have stumbled through a portal into the past. Don't be fooled though, as the city offers much more than antebellum nostalgia for moonlight and magnolias. Savannah is home to several colleges and universities, including the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and in the last decade in particular has seen a surge of creative energy. A new crop of cultural events lends a youthful vibe to the Hostess City.