Just returned from Savannah Georgia where Leslie and I attended the Congress for the New Urbanism conference. Savannah was founded in 1733 by Brit James Oglethorpe, who is credited for the city's layout and, most notably, its iconic squares. It is a city that not only has a long history, but also boasts a living history book in its one square mile historic district.
Savannah's historic district is not only filled with its famous squares, but more importantly, building after historic building offer historical perspective and a sense of place any city would envy. Many of these buildings are accompanied with interpretive plaques to give the passer by details of the building's importance to the city's past. But the buildings themselves add the most value to the Savannah experience.
Savannah's buildings span the architectural spectrum from Colonial to Regency to Beaux Arts. These buildings frame the city's 22 squares and give them life and context. Like only a few other cities in North America, their rich form and authentic materials give the visitor the sense that they are on another continent.
It is it's preservation of history; not just through tours, signs and plaques, but also through the insistence to preserve irreplaceable buildings, and to maintain their character; that makes Savannah such a compelling place.
Savannah is so compelling that 7 million people visit annually. New hotel construction is on the rise, indicative that even more tourists want to experience this magnificent historic district. These new hotels and other new buildings are built with quality materials and with a form respectful of Savannah's pedestrian friendly environment.
We spoke to a couple from Northern Michigan who just bought a home in the historic district and plan on spending their winters in Savannah. They said they had been visiting Savannah for years and "fell in love" with it. Savannah's charm and authenticity make it a hard place not to love.
Rob Bacigalupi helped build one of the premier downtowns in the Midwest