Georgia’s Jewel Box CityIyna Bort Caruso
Savannah is a muse and a model. A muse for writers and artists who’ve fallen under the city’s spell and a model for the modern historic preservation movement.
The latter drives Savannah’s tourism industry. In 1955, the Historic Savannah Foundation was created to save hundreds of significant but decaying buildings from the wrecking ball. Today, the city’s historic architecture and famous squares make up one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States.
Savannah is Georgia’s oldest city--and prettiest if you go by more than a few opinion polls and magazine surveys. Locals, who have managed to elevate Southern hospitality to an art form, are justifiably proud of their 22 jewel-box squares, cobblestoned streets and restored facades.
Downtown Savannah showcases the legacy of the city’s antebellum era in a 2.5-square-mile district where statue- and fountain-filled squares serve as front yards and gardens to a few especially well-situated homes. New townhouses have been designed to meld with historic architecture, while spaces above vintage commercial businesses have been rehabbed into hip lofts. Adjacent to the Savannah Historic District is the Victorian District with its share of turn-of-the-20th century homes and row houses. Ardsley Park is a hundred-year-old community considered Savannah’s first suburb. The neighborhood attracts buyers for its eclectic collection of Tudors, craftsman-style bungalows, gracious Southern mansions and Spanish Mediterranean estates.
Barrier islands hug the coast and offer up the possibility of an endless vacation lifestyle. Tybee Island is considered Savannah’s beach--just 20 minutes from downtown and accessible by car. The resort community has its share of condos, bungalows, classic cottages as well as historic homes such as those in the area known as Officers Row. On Skidaway Island is the large gated community called The Landings. Six championship golf courses, tennis centers and a pair of deep-water marinas means life at this private coastal development is only as relaxed as one desires.