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Old 01-23-2011, 09:07 PM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
887 posts, read 1,159,324 times
Reputation: 617
Default Kinda wish Savannah was GA's capital

So I re-visited Savannah after not having been there in over a decade. Now that I'm old enough to understand city planning, I totally fell in love with Savannah (the downtown area at least).

Savannah reminded me of a small European city: it was teeming with pedestrian foot traffic, had a romantic river view, had cafes and shops that people were frequenting (without cars!) on a late, cold evening, density, walkabilty, a beautiful natural geography, and the advantage of being on a coast. Like, it just felt better than Atlanta in feeling like a city. Don't get me wrong, I love my Inman Parks and Va-His, but the fact that Savannah has their urbanity in a concentrated area made it so much more appealing. I literally fell in love with it.

What are y'all's opinions/experiences with Savannah? GA history buffs, why did Savannah, with a coastline that makes it appealing for industry and nicely planned layout, not remain GA's capital?

Last edited by bizchick86; 01-23-2011 at 09:15 PM..
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:51 PM
 
2,758 posts, read 3,318,179 times
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Good thread I spoke with some people about this some time ago.

History of Georgia's Cities

I sort of think that if Savannah were allowed to grow, it would have been a tropical/sunny version of metro Philadelphia. Just picture this: Metro Atlanta fused with Savannah.

This mixed with what we have in the ATL area. Midtown, Downtown, and Buckhead side by side with Savannah's historic downtown (which would've been bigger because the old growth would have been sustained had it remained the capital of GA). Also picture what it would have looked like with development from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 50s, 60s, & 70s.

The early Georgia leaders really dropped the ball with not keeping the capital in one great location. It would have been a very distinct city with its own style though. The more that I think about it the more that it puzzles me why folks back then just gave up on a city that would have been a force (when everything's factored, it would've been a strong city). Back then, Savannah and Charleston were both getaway spots for New Englanders and I know they had to have had influence down here but I still don't know why it didn't flourish the way it should have.

Last edited by David Alleyne; 01-23-2011 at 10:04 PM..
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:52 PM
 
14,347 posts, read 8,882,221 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bizchick86 View Post
What are y'all's opinions/experiences with Savannah? GA history buffs, why did Savannah, with a coastline that makes it appealing for industry and nicely planned layout, not remain GA's capital?
Atlanta boosterism.

Downtown Savannah is an absolutely charming colonial city, still a jewel box in many ways. It can sure get humid in the summertime, though.
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:53 PM
 
8,687 posts, read 11,733,573 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bizchick86 View Post
So I re-visited Savannah after not having been there in over a decade. Now that I'm old enough to understand city planning, I totally fell in love with Savannah (the downtown area at least).

Savannah reminded me of a small European city: it was teeming with pedestrian foot traffic, had a romantic river view, had cafes and shops that people were frequenting (without cars!) on a late, cold evening, density, walkabilty, a beautiful natural geography, and the advantage of being on a coast. Like, it just felt better than Atlanta in feeling like a city. Don't get me wrong, I love my Inman Parks and Va-His, but the fact that Savannah has their urbanity in a concentrated area made it so much more appealing. I literally fell in love with it.

What are y'all's opinions/experiences with Savannah? GA history buffs, why did Savannah, with a coastline that makes it appealing for industry and nicely planned layout, not remain GA's capital?
Quickly now...

I love Savannah, too. One of my all time favorite cities--in the world (and I'm a world traveler).


After the Revolutionary Era...the state's centers of population kept moving further inland. There is actually much better farmland inland. The Piedmont region of Georgia and the East Gulf Coastal Plain (Southwest Georgia) has the best (or at least better) farmland of Georgia.

Georgia's capital was moved east to Louisville. Then further north and east to Milledgeville. And then finally to Atlanta in 1868. This followed the the population movement of Georgia.

Georgia's coast and Savannah are beautiful, but Georgia's "Heartland" (farming, industry, textiles, etc.) has historically centered on the Piedmont Plateau and the Fall Line--and to an extent towards southwest Georgia.

Others will chime in--I gave you some of it in a nutshell.
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:55 PM
 
8,687 posts, read 11,733,573 times
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It has been said that if Savannah didn't have a long period of relative decline/stagnation (roughly 1880-1960), then its colonial charms, historic district, etc. would not have survived.
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Old 01-23-2011, 09:57 PM
 
8,687 posts, read 11,733,573 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Alleyne View Post
...(when everything's factored, it would've been a strong city). Back then, Savannah and Charleston were both getaway spots for New Englanders and I know they had to have had influence down here but I still don't know why it didn't flourish the way it should have.
It's a tortured history of why many/several Southern cities did not flourish as they should have...
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:19 PM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
887 posts, read 1,159,324 times
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Exactly, this (Northern layout with Southern charm) is what I was envisioning when I was there. Apparently it's considered one of the best (and to some sources, THE) best planned city in the world! Their use of and availabilty of public spaces are unrivaled. And considering it has boundaries limiting its sprawl, it would have maintained its density.

It's crazy that Savannah 200 odd years ago is what Atlanta is still striving for now.

As another poster mentioned, I suppose a need for agricultural land spawned the move. Still, why not just rely on coastal industry over farming, as with Northern cities? I suppose cotton and farm animals provide greater profits.

I do wonder what Savannah would look like if it did indeed remain our capital and grew to be the largest city. Perhaps it would have been more fitting of the New York of the south title.


Quote:
Originally Posted by David Alleyne View Post
Good thread I spoke with some people about this some time ago.

History of Georgia's Cities

I sort of think that if Savannah were allowed to grow, it would have been a tropical/sunny version of metro Philadelphia. Just picture this: Metro Atlanta fused with Savannah.

This mixed with what we have in the ATL area. Midtown, Downtown, and Buckhead side by side with Savannah's historic downtown (which would've been bigger because the old growth would have been sustained had it remained the capital of GA). Also picture what it would have looked like with development from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 50s, 60s, & 70s.

The early Georgia leaders really dropped the ball with not keeping the capital in one great location. It would have been a very distinct city with its own style though. The more that I think about it the more that it puzzles me why folks back then just gave up on a city that would have been a force (when everything's factored, it would've been a strong city). Back then, Savannah and Charleston were both getaway spots for New Englanders and I know they had to have had influence down here but I still don't know why it didn't flourish the way it should have.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:35 PM
 
Location: Atlanta, GA
887 posts, read 1,159,324 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aries4118 View Post
It has been said that if Savannah didn't have a long period of relative decline/stagnation (roughly 1880-1960), then its colonial charms, historic district, etc. would not have survived.
That makes sense. With the ATL in the past focused on inventing itself as a metropolis during and post the Civil Rights era to distance itself from Southern stereotyoes and be seen as a "modern" city, they decimated a good bit of its historical charm in the process. I'm sure Savannah would have faced something similar.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:37 PM
 
Location: Savannah GA
8,063 posts, read 5,887,321 times
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I think some of you are confusing romanticism with reality! But it is an interesting question, and a common mistake made by tourists. Just today, I overheard someone on a street in downtown Savannah refer to the gold domed City Hall as the "capitol building" (it was actually built in the early 1900s BTW).

Savannah was Georgia's "colonial" capital because it was where the colony was founded; by the time of statehood and the Revolution, the state's population had shifted dramatically north and west -- where there was much more fertile farmland. Remember, folks, this was an agriculture society; nobody then cared about town plans and scenic views and lovely weather! The river was simply a means of transportation. The marshes were smelly swamps.

In fact, Savannah served as Georgia's official "state" capital for just two years -- 1777-78, after which time it moved around a bit before being permanently seated at Augusta until 1797. From there, it moved southwest to Louisville (following the direction of population growth) before once again moving even further west to Milledgeville, where it remained until being relocated to Atlanta following the Civil War in 1868.

(An aside: Savannah was one of the wealthiest cities in the United States nearly from the time of its founding up through the Civil War, and remained an important port city until the Boll Weevil destroyed King Cotton in the early 1900s. Only then did it see a dramatic economic decline.)

As a native Georgian, the question I've always had is: WHY WAS THE CAPITAL MOVED FROM MILLEDGEVILLE? Much like Savannah, Milledgeville was a planned city, carved from Indian territory with the distinct purpose of serving as the capital. Planners created wide streets and public squares radiating from a gothic capitol building sitting high on a hill (all of which remains today, BTW ... Milledgeville is LOVELY). In fact, Milledgeville was considered a model city -- educated, cultural, modern for the day. So why, after 60 years, did state leaders up and relocate the seat of state government to Atlanta -- a provincial backwater more akin to a wild west frontier town, especially during the era of Reconstruction? That I've never understood. And wouldn't it have made more sense for Georgia government to have remained dead center in the middle of the state, rather than being concentrated in the northern third? No doubt, this would have contributed to our state's population being more evenly distributed as well methinks.
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Old 01-23-2011, 10:41 PM
 
Location: East Side of ATL
2,622 posts, read 2,913,968 times
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I like all the parks and squares and some of the homes in the historic district are nice. Sucks that a restaurant that I enjoyed closed down.

I think, the quick access to the ocean makes its different from everywhere else in GA...
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