Thursday – April 17, 2014
Savannah Historic Waterfront District
Another cool morning, with the temperature in the high forties, greeted us here at the Fort McAllister Historic State Park in Richmond Hills, Georgia. A clear sky with the temperature reaching the high sixties is forecast for today.
We arrived at the Savannah Visitor Information Center at 10:00 a.m. A wait of a few minutes outside of the Visitor Center, and the idot fare-free bus arrived. We boarded the bus and took a circuitous route through the Historic District to the Savannah River waterfront. Throughout this journey the bus passes through beautiful park-like "Squares" (lush miniature parks containing Live Oak trees). The squares disrupt the flow of traffic on each of the four streets that intersect it, requiring incoming traffic to yield to other traffic flowing counter-clockwise around the square. Traffic then exits on the opposite side of the square to continue their journey on the same street they were traveling on. There are 22 of these squares dispersed throughout the Historic District that date back to the city’s founding.
We exited the bus at the Johnson Square, a short walk of one block brought us
to the magnificent architecture of City Hall. Across the street is the equally
impressive U.S. Customs building, the tall vertical columns resembling those of
the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C.
Another short walk down some stairs
and we were presented with an amazing view of the Savannah River waterfront and
a containerized cargo ship arriving in port. A one-way cobblestone street, with
a single row of streetcar tracks running down the center of the street,
traverses the length of the Historic Waterfront District. On one side flows the
Savannah River, continuing on its journey to ultimately empty into the Atlantic
Ocean. On the other side the street is lined with hotels, boutique shops,
restaurants and bars.
Savannah’s port is one of the busiest in the United States, welcoming over 3,000 vessels per year. The terminals that serve the port are only surpassed in East Coast trade volume by the combined ports of New Jersey and New York. Some of the world’s largest merchant vessels bring in cargos from Asia, Europe, South America, the South Pacific and Africa and return with American commodities. Much of this freight is handled as containerized cargo.
Merchant vessels entering the port of Savannah must pass under the Talmadge
bridge. Construction of the new bridge was completed in 1991 at a cost of $25.7
million. The impressive cable-stayed design suspends the roadway from two 418
feet-tall, H-shaped concrete pylons. The bridge has a 185-foot vertical
clearance at high tide and 1,023-foot of horizontal clearance. As we viewed a
containerized cargo ship enter the port, it looked like the top of the ship
cleared the bridge by a mere few feet. What an amazing sight!
We had a late lunch at the Shrimp Factory on the waterfront. This is a
quaint-looking, nicely decorated restaurant overlooking the Savannah River. We
ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes for an appetizer. Sharon ordered the Cajun
Chicken Alfredo and I ordered the Puff Pastry Shrimp for our entrées. Everything
was absolutely delicious. As we dined, we were rewarded with views of enormous
cargo ships, traversing the Savannah River, either entering or departing the
port of Savannah.
Puff Pastry Shrimp
After spending a full day visiting the Historic Waterfront District, we decided to
walk back to the Visitor Center, rather than take the idot fare-free bus.
Starting at Johnson Square, our route took us on Bryant Street through the
Farmers Market in Ellis Square, then on Barnard Street to Telfair Square, where
an instructor was providing fencing lessons to a group of students. We continued
on our walk to Oglethorpe Avenue that took us to Martin Luther King Boulevard
and the Visitor Center. It was a very nice thirty-minute walk that took us
through several historic neighborhoods.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.