Historic Savannah, GA

tugboats at sunrise in Savannah Georgia

Photograph by Jeremy


Before we load up into our personal little horse-drawn carriage, the driver asks, “What, no alcohol?”

Our entire family, grandparents through babies, sort of just give one another a look. “Can you give us a minute?” She nods, we all depart in our various separate ways. The grandfather of this current situation, known as Pop Rocks, asks a few gentlemen having a nice long sit on a bench where we might find some booze, quickly. The oldest of the sitters directs him down the street while another looks to me and says, “You need some beer? Yeah, sure, I’ll show you.”

He leads me down a street, a left turn, another block or two, across a divided highway and finally to a BP station. “They got beer here, man,” he says, opening the door (to triumph my arrival, I suppose). I thank him, and as he follows me through the beer cooler I realize he’s due a tip.

All I was looking for was a simple point in the right direction, but the guy walked me the entire way here so I suppose if we’re about to pay a woman to drive us around in a carriage and tell us about the history of Savannah, so should I compensate a fella who’s walked me over a quarter mile from my origination to this fine piece of gas station.

I grab my own beverages, some wine for the grandmas, a small bottle of whisky for the uncles and Pop Rocks, and a six pack for myself and the Lady to share (knowing full and well she’ll partake of no more than half a bottle or so). “What do you want, man?” I ask my tour guide.

“Just a Colt,” he grabs it, leads me to the front desk, and after payment is made and a handshake had, we never see one another again.

As I make it back to the carriage, everyone aboard and holding plastic cups full of beverages they scored from the many bars just adjacent to the start of our horse-drawn tour, I feel a little silly. But better over-prepared than on time, I always say.

Our carriage driver smiles, nods toward me in approval of my acknowledgement that I’ve kind of pissed half of our group off, and then hits to the streets. While I feel it would be a disservice to recreate her entire tour here–you should take one for yourself, hokey as a tour of a city may feel, this one is actually worth it–I’ll simply leave you with a few photos to illustrate the stoic city of Savannah’s past and present.

Savannah Georgia bathed in dusk
Established in 1733, Savannah is Georgia’s oldest city. It is simultaneously a haven for modern day progressives and a testament to the conservative tendencies of the South. Photo by Barbara Mazz
a city block preserved as parkland
Savannah has 22 squares downtown, each a testament to history and the beauty of the land before colonization, while simultaneously serving as a testament to modern city life. Some serve as homes to historic monuments, others playgrounds. Photo by Martin Kuilman
an old cemetery, kept and overgrown all at once
Laurel Grove Cemetery, where countless Confederate soldiers were buried. The graveyard is two parts. Laurel Grove North is the home of those long gone white soldiers, while the southern section holds the bodies of slaves and free people of color. Regardless of segregation, it is one of the most beautifully ornate cemeteries in the country. Photo by Moultrie Creek
City Hall, Savannah, at the end of a long street lined with palms
Modern Savannah’s City Hall, the dome of which is made of tissue-thin 23-karat gold. Savannah was the capital of Colonial Georgia and the first capital of the State of Georgia. Photo by Ken Lund
a steamship chugs up the Savannah River, the city in the background rises high
The Savannah River, from which the city gets its name, hosts freight and tourist ships alike, butted up against boutique River Street. Photo by Cherie Joyful
a black and white drawing of Tecumseh, a Shawnee warrior opposed to white invasion
The Shawnee Indians, from which the Savannah River gets its name, migrated to the area, displacing the previous Indians, just before European settlers arrived. Photo Credit
a tall IPA
Savannah today is full of every type of waterhole you could imagine, from corner dives to elegant brewpubs. We recommend Atlanta, Georgia’s 420 Pale Ale and Athens’ Terrapin Hopsecutioner IPA. Photo by Tim Parkinson
a cannon sits in a field of green, damaged walls of Fort Pulaski in the background
The largest of Savannah’s defenses during the Civil War, Fort Pulaski was the first victim of a new type of cannon which could obliterate brick fortifications. The Union took the stronghold with no loss of life, crippling the South’s war efforts,. Not long after the General in charge of the fort, before the Emancipation Proclamation even, issued a decree that all slaves in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were free. Photo by Ron Cogswell
a red brick building
The Mercer-Williams House, setting of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Photo Credit
a church reflecting in water in Savannah, GA
Photo by Jim Crotty
a small moss-covered rock peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean
Some of the non-developed portions of Tybee Island, a popular beach just outside of Savannah. Tybee is a popular vacation destination but isn’t overly populated even in the summer. Photo by Angi English
20-somethings smoke and drink in a private club in Savannah, GA
A bit of a departure from the rest of the South, Savannah is full of young progressive people, hipsters and chic alike. Photo by TJR Photography
two carriages, drawn by black and white horses, take a break
Taking a carriage ride, available in abundance in Savannah’s downtown, is a relaxing way to gain more knowledge about the city’s past than you could ever remember. Photo by Lego Riki