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Savannah, Georgia

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Savannah in Georgia.

Savannah is the largest city and county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport.

Each year Savannah attracts millions of visitors, who enjoy the city's architecture and historic buildings: the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South's first public museums), the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African American Baptist congregations in the United States), Temple Mickve Israel (the third-oldest synagogue in America), and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in America).

Savannah's downtown area, which includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah Victorian Historic District and 22 parklike squares, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States. Savannah was the host city for the sailing competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia.

The city's location offers visitors access to the coastal islands and the Savannah Riverfront, both popular tourist destinations. Tybee Island, formerly known as "Savannah Beach", is the site of the Tybee Island Light Station, the first lighthouse on the southern Atlantic coast. Other picturesque towns adjacent to Savannah include the shrimping village of Thunderbolt and three residential areas that began as summer resort communities for Savannahians: Beaulieu, Vernonburg and the Isle of Hope.

The Savannah Civic Center is located on Montgomery Street and is host to over 900 events each year, including the Memorial Health Hockey Classic.

Savannah's historic district has 22 squares (Ellis Square, demolished in 1954, was fully restored in early 2010). The squares vary in size and personality, from the formal fountain and monuments of the largest, Johnson, to the playgrounds of the smallest, Crawford. Elbert, Ellis, and Liberty Squares are classified as the three "lost squares," destroyed in the course of urban development during the 1950s. Elbert and Liberty Squares were paved over to make way for a realignment of U.S. highway 17, while Ellis Square was demolished to build the City Market parking garage. The city restored Ellis Square after razing the City Market parking garage. The garage has been rebuilt as an underground facility, the Whitaker Street Parking Garage, and it opened in January 2009. The newly restored Ellis Square opened in March 2010. Separate efforts are now under way to revive Elbert and Liberty Squares.

Savannah is home to a number of historic houses of worship.

Founded in 1733, with the establishment of the Georgia colony, Christ Church is the longest continuous Christian congregation in Georgia. Early rectors include English evangelists John Wesley and George Whitefield. Located on the original site on Johnson Square, Christ Church continues as an active congregation.

The First Bryan Baptist Church is an African-American church that was organized by Andrew Bryan in 1788. The site was purchased in 1793 by Bryan, a former slave who had also purchased his freedom. The first structure was erected there in 1794. By 1800 the congregation was large enough to split: those at Bryan Street took the name of First African Baptist Church, and Second and Third African Baptist churches were also established. The current sanctuary of First Bryan Baptist Church was constructed in 1873.

In 1832, a controversy over doctrine caused the First African Baptist congregation at Bryan Street to split. Some members left, taking with them the name of First African Baptist Church. In 1859, the members of this new congregation (most of whom were slaves) built their current church building on Franklin Square.

The oldest standing house of worship is First Baptist Church, Savannah (1833), located on Chippewa Square. Also located near Chippewa Square is the Independent Presbyterian Church, which was founded in 1775.

Other historic houses of worship in Savannah include: Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (Roman Catholic), Temple Mickve Israel, and St. John's Church (Episcopal).

Among the historic homes that have been preserved are: the Pink House, the Sorrel Weed House, Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace, the Green-Meldrim House, the Owens-Thomas House, the William Scarbrough House, and the Wormsloe plantation of Noble Jones. The Mercer-Williams House, the former home of Jim Williams, is the main location of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Historic forts

* Fort Jackson — near the historic district
* Fort Pulaski National Monument — 17 miles (27 km) east of Savannah via the Islands Expressway

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