River Street – Savannah

River Street Old Town Trolley Tour Stop

Stop 10 on the Old Town Trolley Tour is River Street.  Appropriately named since it’s the street beside the Savannah river. This was probably the first street built in Savannah since it was used to deliver commodities to the city from the ships that sailed up the river from the Atlantic ocean. The Atlantic is only 18 miles from Savannah’s River Street.  The city sits up high with a significant drop off to the river.  This created a major problem for the sailing crew to get their products and supplies from the ship to the city above.  Because it made a good look out point for the military Savannah was built at this location

Originally, they tried to carry supplies up the cliffs to the city. That failed. Another attempt was to make some sort of a hoist system with ropes and pulleys. Because of the sandy soil, everything kept coming loose and that failed also. They couldn’t get any leverage to carry anything up.  One solution was to dig a tunnel which worked and I’ll write more about that later. Another solution was to use the stones they had used for ballasts on the ship and make a road up the hill.  The pictures below are ones I took showing the ballast road, some street views and some of the steep crooked steps.

This street now still has most of the original buildings and consists mostly of gift shops, souvenir shops and restaurants.  You can also get on one of the river cruise ships here. They offer dinner cruises and sightseeing cruises. I believe the tour guide said originally the river was about 14 feet deep, but now is 42 feet deep and there is a plan to make it deeper. It is now the 5th busiest port in the U. S.

Savannah is known for cotton although the primary crop grown in the area is rice and peaches. Cotton was brought into the city and stored in many of the cotton warehouses built along the river. Most of those buildings are still standing today. The cotton brokers stood on the bridge and graded the cotton as it passed on the street below them, priced it and sold it and sent it to other parts of the world. Many people became very wealthy because of the cotton industry.

At the end of River Street is a statue of The Waving Girl. Florence Martus became known as the Waving Girl by sailors around the world. She waved a handkerchief by day and a torch by night at ships entering and leaving the harbor. It is said she never missed waving at a ship from 1887 to 1931. Many times she was seen with her dog, Sandy.

A little further down on River Street is a statue of the Olympic torch from the games in Georgia in 1996. Some events were on the Savannah river.

More on the city in future posts

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