Compared to most Americans, I have traveled quite a bit. Only recently can I say that I have found the best, prettiest city in the states and possible from all the cities I have visited in the world.
Savannah is small and very walkable. Every few blocks is a beautifully landscaped park with plenty of shade and benches to rest on when you need a break from the heat or just want to watch people.
General Oglethorpe established the city on a bluff overlooking the Savannah River in 1733 and with the help of William Bull designed the layout using a system of park squares. The large ornate buildings around the parks were to be used for business or government while the surrounding more modest east/west, north/south streets were to be residential. As the city grew, new squares were added. Today, the city has 22 squares of well-tended grounds with Forsyth Park being the largest. On the first morning of our trip I walked through Monterey Park and down Bull Street to get to Forsyth Park.
My initial visits to Savannah had always been for a few days, and we spent them in the tourist area along the river, which is below the city’s bluff. The old warehouse buildings and cobbled streets have been transitioned from an old salty seaport to an area with restaurants, shops, hotels and a river park. We only explored the first few blocks parallel to River St. and East Bay St. and unwittingly, never really saw the beauty of this city. This time we stayed near Bull Street and not far from Forsyth Park, and that is when I discovered the hidden treasures of the real Savannah.
Savannah was saved from the destruction and ravaging of the Civil War when she surrendered to General Sherman. Thanks to Sherman’s appreciation of her beauty, most of this city’s architecture dates back to the 1700’s and the 1800’s. On the first morning of our visit, as I walked through Monterey Park and south on Bull Street on the way to Forsyth Park, I knew this city captured my heart.
When I arrived at Forsyth Park I recognize it immediately by the enormous fountain that is visible from every corner of the park. No one knows for sure where the fountain originated, and romantics imagine it coming from Paris but the legend that I like the best is that it was ordered mail order from New York City.
Walking the streets and parks and dining in this area of town gave us a new understanding of what Savannah was like centuries ago. She surely is a national treasure, and I plan to make many return trips to imagine women in hooped skirts descending the mansions’ stairs or walk the streets in search of ghosts and haunted houses.