Written by Wildcat Dianne on 17 Jan, 2009
Of course I was religious. I grew up in the church. My father is a preacher, my grandfather was a preacher, my great-grandfather was a preacher, my only brother is a preacher, my daddy's brother is a preacher. So I didn't have…Read More
Of course I was religious. I grew up in the church. My father is a preacher, my grandfather was a preacher, my great-grandfather was a preacher, my only brother is a preacher, my daddy's brother is a preacher. So I didn't have much choice.--Martin Luther King, Jr.
After Mom and I finished touring inside the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center and its awesome museum, Mom and I headed outside to continue visiting Martin Luther King's neighborhood in downtown Atlanta. The park surrounding the MLK Center facing Auburn Avenue is beautifully laid out, and Mom and I enjoyed the unusually warm January weather to wander around the grounds before heading to the other sites. On the grounds is a gorgeous statue by a local sculptor of Kunta Kinte, the descendant of Roots author Alex Haley, in that famous pose where he holds up his baby daughter during its baptism and says "BEHOLD!" That is also the name of the statue, and I loved the picture I took of it so much that I had it enlarged for my photo wall in my bedroom.
After seeing the BEHOLD! Statue, Mom and I got our bearings and started to look for the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King, Jr. preached (1960-1968) along with his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and brother before him. We saw the new Ebenezer Baptist Church on the center grounds next door, and it took us a minute to look around and find the Old Ebenezer Baptist Church was located across the street on Auburn Avenue. So off Mom and I went to check out the church and learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his life as a preacher.
The Old Ebenezer Baptist Church was built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture in 1922, and Martin Luther King, Sr., the father, became pastor in 1931 succeeding his father-in-law A.D. Williams. Martin Luther King, Jr. became pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1960, and the church became the center of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and hosted many meetings and rallies during the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave some of his most stirring sermons at Ebenezer Baptist Church including the 1965 "American Dream" sermon and his last sermon at Ebenezer called "Unfulfilled Dreams" in March 1968. Although by the time of Dr. King's assassination the congregation had moved across the road to the New Ebenezer Baptist Church, his funeral was held inside the old church as a "farewell to his spiritual home."
Today, the Old Ebenezer Baptist Church is open to the public for tours and special occasions, but when Mom and I visited the Old Ebenezer Baptist Church this January, it was closed for renovations and restoration. The restoration began in 2007 and will be turning the church interior to its glory days in the 1950's and 1960's.
It was a bummer that we couldn't go inside the church, but Mom and I made the best of it and went inside the rectory next door to tour the gift shop and look at the collage of photos on the entrance wall that shows all of the pastors who preached at Ebenezer. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a small photo on the top of the collage and not in a big 8 x 10 glossy apart from the other pastors. He was considered an ordinary person and this collage shows this.
After touring the rectory of the old church and taking pictures, Mom and I went across the road to the New Ebenezer Baptist Church. Built in the 1950's, the new sanctuary was bigger than the old sanctuary and housed the growing number of people attending the church to hear Dr. King's sermons. A plaque is to the left of the main entrance naming the pastors who preached at Ebenezer including several members of the King family. After Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in 1968 followed another tragedy to the family in 1971 when his mother Alberta was shot to death by a crazed person while playing the piano during Sunday services.
During the day of our visit, a health fair was being held in the church entryway, and no one was allowed to go inside the sanctuary. However, the sanctuary can be seen through the plate glass windows that line the wall in the entry hall.
Ebenezer Baptist Church is open daily for tours and is free of charge. You can tour the church when services aren't going on or attend a service to experience what it was like to attend this historical church during Martin Luther King's time.
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 16 Jan, 2009
January 20, 2009 will be a great moment in American History when Barack Obama will be sworn into office as the first African-American President of the United States of America. If only Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive to see this momentous time in…Read More
January 20, 2009 will be a great moment in American History when Barack Obama will be sworn into office as the first African-American President of the United States of America. If only Martin Luther King, Jr. was alive to see this momentous time in our history.
Last summer, I wanted to see the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site in Atlanta, but my cousin and aunt discouraged us from going saying it was in a bad part of town. I felt it was a case of their being prejudice and left Georgia really ticked off that I didn't get to see the place. I told Mom I would take her to Georgia in January to visit the family, but we needed to visit the Martin Luther King NHS irregardless of what the family says is a bad neighborhood or not.
So leaving the sniffling and coughing aunt at home in Douglasville to drain snot out of her head into a trash bucket and the cousin and her brat off to the mall with her ex-girlfriend, Mom and I took off for Atlanta on a chilly Saturday morning. After about a half-hour driving on I-20 and 1-75/85, we got off Exit 248C and easily found the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site thanks to signs marking the way to the place.
After parking the car in the huge parking lot leading to the center, Mom and I began our odyssey to learn more about the great Civil Rights Leader and Nobel Peace Prize activist. Our trip began along a path called The International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. This path was created in 2004 by Xernora Clayton, a civil rights icon and activist and is lined with several plaques of African-American activists and their supporters with their footprints embedded into their plaques below their names. Mom and I spent a good few minutes walking this path reading the names and putting our feet up to the footprints of some of the most famous names in History including Bill Clinton, Bishop Desmond Tutu ("My Bishop Tutu has such little feet!", Mom and I mused), Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc.
The path leads to the Ghandi Promenade and a statue of the Indian activist who peacefully sought rights for the Indian people and independence from Great Britain until his untimely assassination in 1948. After taking pictures of the statue and reading the passage engraved on the statue, Mom and I went inside the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center where there is an emotional and awesome gallery about his life and work in bringing equality to the African-Americans of the South.
The photos and memorabilia hit you like a line drive with its emotional tales of lynchings and other horrible things done to African-Americans in the South after the Civil War. An African-American in the South couldn't even say "Hi!" to a white woman without a charge of rape coming afterwards, and one unfortunate African-American from Chicago found out the hard way that calling a white woman a "Babe" got himself put and jail and hanged by a lynch mob in the 1950's.
The most moving parts of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center were the statues of people of all races and creeds marching across a "bridge to freedom and equality." Located in the middle of the museum, one can walk along these statues depicting an African-American woman, a handicapped man, a child, and other people who have suffered indignation in our nation.
Well I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I have been to the mountaintop. . .Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Memphis Mason Temple--April 3, 1968.
As Mom and I toured the center, we could hear recordings of Dr. King's speeches and sermons he made throughout his life, and I was brought to tears when I came up to the display depicting the last 24 hours of Martin Luther King's life. I have always gotten emotional when I hear his stirring "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, and that day in the Martin Luther King Center was no exception. There is a clock on this display that is stopped at 6 p.m. on April 4, 1968, when the bullet fired by James Earl Ray ended Martin Luther King's life on the balcony of that Memphis hotel, and the photo of Jesse Jackson and the others pointing towards the sniper's position put me into an emotional tailspin.
You cannot take photos of the Gallery in the Center that holds the simple wooden coffin and wagon that took Martin Luther King, Jr. to his final resting place down the street, but looking at it will engrave that memory in my head forever.
After touring the museum, Mom and I went into the gift shop where I bought Martin Luther King's autobiography along with a parchment copy of his stirring I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech on the eve of his death. There are also t-shirts, coffee mugs, and children's literature on sale in the shop.
Admission to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site is free of charch and open from 8-5 daily except for holidays. The Center and the surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr. sites including his birthplace and grave are on Auburn Avenue and are in a still residential area of Atlanta. So respect the rights of the residents who live here and don't tromp all over their lawns to see a part of American History. For those who are concerned about the neighborhood the center sits in, there are park rangers from the National Park Services walking around the center and on Auburn Avenue to keep folks safe and to answer any questions or give directions to visitors to the area. Next time you are in the Atlanta area, please take the a morning or afternoon to visit this emotional and most awesome place in American History. Hell, I would come back again just to experience the whole experience again!
Written by BulldogGirl on 16 Sep, 2008
When I came to Athens for the first time, I was a junior in high school trying to figure out where I would go to college. I was excited to tour the University of Georgia campus, get a feel for the town, you know……Read More
When I came to Athens for the first time, I was a junior in high school trying to figure out where I would go to college. I was excited to tour the University of Georgia campus, get a feel for the town, you know… normal things you do when you visit a college town. My mother on the other hand, had two things that she had read about and was so excited to see - a tree and a cannon. These may seem like pretty boring things to drive all the way from Florida to Athens, Georgia to see as far as sights go but I took Mom's word for it. Afterall, she kept talking about them during our eight-hour car ride. The tree she was referring to was no ordinary tree. At the corner of Finley Street and Dearing Street, about a block off of Broad Street (the main drag of Athens for anyone who is familiar with the area), stands an oak tree with a sign that deeds it to itself. Technically, the tree that stands there today grew from an acorn of the original tree, which fell in 1942. However, the history is still there. Legend has it that in the early 1800s, out of love for a great oak on his property, Professor William H.Jackson deeded to the tree ownership of itself and the land within eight feet of it on all sides to itself. The tree's property rights have never been questioned, and it is now fairly well known as "The Tree That Owns Itself".The cannon, likewise, is no ordinary cannon. This famous Double-Barreled Cannon is located in front of City Hall downtown and was originally cast at the Athens Steam Company in 1862. It is a double six-pounder, cast in one piece, with a three degree divergence from the parallel between the barrels. Each barrel has its own touch hole so it can be fired independently of the other and a common touch hole in the center is designed to fire both barrels simultaneously. The idea was to connect two cannon balls with a chain and mow the enemy down like a scythe cuts wheat. Apparently, however, the cannon did not quite perform as well as expected. On the several occasions it was tested, a cow was killed, a chimney was demolished, and rumor has it several onlookers were killed as well. So while the cannon wasn't too successful, it is still displayed proudly downtown - pointing north, just in case. Since these two attractions are all over the tour books, and they're both pretty unique, I would suggest checking them out next time you're in town. If nothing else, you'll make my mama proud! Close
Written by Wildcat Dianne on 12 Aug, 2008
Mom and I were on our way to our family's place in Douglasville, Georgia this July. The last 50 miles of the trip were travelled on rural roads through small Southern towns that reminded me of the movie and TV show In The Heat…Read More
Mom and I were on our way to our family's place in Douglasville, Georgia this July. The last 50 miles of the trip were travelled on rural roads through small Southern towns that reminded me of the movie and TV show In The Heat of The Night with it's old buildings and quaint downtowns. About 15 miles from my cousin's house, Mom and I stumbled upon the little town of Palmetto, Georgia on US 29. There was a little old train station and historical monument on the side of the road, and Mom and I automatically thought of our friend and fellow Igougo guide Ken (ducksunset), who is a big train nut. Unfortunately, we were almost past the railway station and monument, and I didn't want to turn around with the traffic getting heavy in town. So, we decided that we would stop in Palmetto for a quick pitstop on the way out of Georgia four days later.
So on a soon to be hot Friday in August 2008, Mom and I got an early start from my cousin's house in Douglasville in order to make our sightseeing stops in Palmetto and Tuskegee, Alabama and get home to Pensacola at a reasonable hour.
Our first stop was the promised stop at Palmetto, Georgia. Originally established as Johnson's Store on May 8, 1833, the town was renamed Palmetto by a South Carolinian army unit on the way to the Mexican War on December 8, 1847. The South Carolinians said that the town reminded them of their homestate which is nicknamed "The Palmetto State." Palmetto was unincorporated in Campbell County, which was disolved in 1931 and Palmetto became part of Fulton County on January 1, 1932.
In September 1864, the Union Army under General William T. Sherman burned and occupied Atlanta. The Confederate Army of Tennessee had been stationed in Atlanta at the time and fled Atlanta and headed westward and moved to Palmetto on September 19, 1864 and set up temporary headquarters in the town under the command of General John B. Hood. On September 25, 1864, Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy came to Palmetto and made a speech to the Army of Tennessee about three miles north of the town. The 20th Louisiana Band was in town and performed for Davis and his entourage. Jefferson Davis stayed in town for a couple of days before leaving on September 27, and by September 29, General Hood and the Army of Tennessee had left town, too, to head back to Tennessee and the disastrous campaign in their homestate.
Palmetto was also known as a milltown with three cotton gins that were very productive in the late-19th Century, and the Palmetto Cotton Mill was run by a Bostonian named Riley who became a pillar of the community in Palmetto.
Mom and I spent about a half-hour at the railway station taking pictures of the cannons near the Army of Tennessee Monument and the railway station. After its use as a train depot ended, the station had other uses including to fairly recently, a sheriff substation. Willis Menefee is buried near the train depot, and several events commemorating Palmetto's history are held every year.
Written by Little Ayun on 12 Sep, 2007
This isn’t so much an "experience" as a set of recommendations for anyone who intends to eat a lot of meals out and doesn’t have a local source in the know. I’m in no way a snob about eating out, but overall I think Atlanta’s…Read More
This isn’t so much an "experience" as a set of recommendations for anyone who intends to eat a lot of meals out and doesn’t have a local source in the know. I’m in no way a snob about eating out, but overall I think Atlanta’s restaurants are so hit-or-miss that some work is necessary if you don’t want to be disappointed by your meal. I had a couple of terrific meals, but I had to go looking for them, and I paid way too much for food that wasn’t worth half its price more than once.I don’t generally think of myself as a foodie, nor do I make a habit of researching the heck out of restaurant choices the way I do bookstores and obscure museums when visiting a new city. Most places I’ve been, it hasn’t seemed necessary – glance at a good local website for featured eateries, pick one with entrées in the $10-15 range and/or a novel menu gimmick/ethnic cuisine, and I’m good to go. It takes about a minute and a half, and I can’t remember ever feeling burned by this method. More often than not I pick a place to eat by glancing at menus posted in windows when I’m out and about. But man, Atlanta restaurants are not to be trusted.Here’s the numbers: I tried to go to nine different restaurants. Of those nine, three were either not open when they should have been or out of business altogether. Of the six I actually ate at, four were disappointments. Two of the four disappointing places were expensive (entrées approaching thirty bucks) to boot. I went a whole 2 for 9 in Atlanta, when I usually bat close to a thousand. The Braves got swept that weekend, too. Maybe something was in the air.I’m not sure if my experiences eating out in Atlanta were due to an extraordinary string of fantastically bad luck, poor judgment, or a baseline standard for what’s good restaurant food that’s way lower than what I’m used to, but I have my suspicions. In any case, even if you find you’re not as cranky as I was about the quality of the food, it’s absolutely necessary to call a restaurant before you show up. It’s not about getting reservations; it’s about making sure the restaurant actually exists and is open for business. I got burned several times by spontaneous closings ("We’re taking the day off to go to the Pride Parade!"), undocumented overhauls ("We don’t do tapas anymore, now we serve Modern American food!") and maddeningly unpredictable opening hours ("We think it’s absurd that you’d want to eat dinner after 8 o’clock!") Even if you’re not picky about the food, the practicalities of eating out in Atlanta are surprisingly tricky for a city that’s supposedly world-class.Here’s what to do if you’re interested in the quality of what you eat: Ignore downtown, especially around Peachtree Center’s hotel tower canyon (i.e., where the Hooters is), even if you’re not footing the bill (because the food tends to be criminally overpriced in that area). Other options should be honest-to-gosh researched if you want to eat anything vaguely interesting – find at least two reviews if you’re doing things online, and check the dates. Good restaurants are out there – my first night in town I hit the jackpot with a "Soul Tapas" place that had terrific local atmosphere, plus mezze-style salad and chicken and waffles on the menu – but you’ll have to do a little looking for them. Don’t trust Creative Loafing (Atlanta’s alternative weekly newspaper) for this – the online restaurant database is seriously out-of-date, and whoever writes their reviews has awfully low standards. I had some good luck with Yelp.com, though the Atlanta content on the site isn’t nearly as extensive as it is for geekier cities like Boston or San Francisco. Dedicated foodie boards like Chowhound may be helpful as well. I decided my guidebook was fairly useless (glad I got it at the library!) early on, so no help there. The best food and drink I had was in Decatur, at places my buddy Russ took me to. Too bad I couldn’t carry him in my pocket all week long. Once you’ve chosen a restaurant, make sure you’ve got good directions, especially if you’re trying to get there by train or bus. Transit hubs don’t overlap very well with dense walkable neighborhoods in this city, and you may have to take a bit of a hike to get where you’re going, occasionally through an area that doesn’t look like it’s got any human life at all.That sounds like a lot of effort - I feel obligated to point out again that I’m not picky - but I promise it’s worth it. Close
Written by travellingdave on 08 Jan, 2007
Atlanta is one of the USA's most scenic cities, and its downtown is as unique as the heart of Georgia. Spend an afternoon walking around this amazing city's downtown core and you will not be disappointed, as there is history around every corner.Begin your self-guided…Read More
Atlanta is one of the USA's most scenic cities, and its downtown is as unique as the heart of Georgia. Spend an afternoon walking around this amazing city's downtown core and you will not be disappointed, as there is history around every corner.Begin your self-guided walking tour at Underground Atlanta in the Five Points neighbourhood, one of the most exciting places in the city. This underground mall is home to dozens of shops and services. Pick up a Georgia peach iced tea here from the food court to cool off during your walk. From Underground Atlanta, proceed south on Central Avenue to the massive World of Coca Cola Museum. Visit this excellent museum, then walk east on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to the Georgia State Capitol building, well worth a visit and tour.From the Capitol, head west on Mitchell Street 3 blocks until you arrive at Peachtree Street, downtown Atlanta's main business road. Walk directly north from here, just over a half mile to the Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta's tallest and most recognizable building. Check out the great shopping mall within this hotel/office building.Need lunch? Visit the great Hard Rock Cafe, located across the street from the Peachtree Plaza. From here, walk west on Andrew Young International Blvd., passing the huge Merchandise Mart, all the way to the Centennial Olympic Park. This massive city park was built for the 1996 Olympic Games, and is an excellent place to people watch and appreciate the beautiful Atlanta skyline. Walk across the park to the CNN Center, and head in for a tour of the studios. For a taste of life as a rich and famous person, have dinner at the exquisite Prime Meridian restaurant in the adjacent Omni Hotel.From here, walk down east down Marietta St, turning north onto Forsyth Street, for a glimpse of the campus of Georgia State University. This walking tour only catches some of the best sights in a very little time, but it's a good start to see the city if you're unfamiliar with the area, and you'll become oriented with everything very quickly.To learn more about downtown Atlanta, visit: www.atlantadowntown.com Close
Written by vampirefan on 27 Mar, 2005
The history of Savannah goes back to February 12, 1733, when English General James Edward Oglethorpe and 120 colonists arrived in Savannah and founded the 13th and last colony in the New World. The colony grew, and people from all over began to gather in…Read More
The history of Savannah goes back to February 12, 1733, when English General James Edward Oglethorpe and 120 colonists arrived in Savannah and founded the 13th and last colony in the New World. The colony grew, and people from all over began to gather in this beautiful place. In 1793, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, and colonists began to make their fortune in cotton. Savannah became a major seaport, and soon wealthy colonist began to build lavish homes and nearby plantations. But Savannah soon found itself caught in the Civil War. In 1864, Savannah residents surrendered their city rather than see it destroyed. Yankee General Sherman found this city so beautiful that he never did torch it.
But after World War I and the collapse of cotton, the city began to languish. In 1955, a group of ladies were outraged that the Isaiah Davenport House was going to be destroyed. They raised enough money and brought the house and restored it to its modern-day refinement. This was the beginning of the Historical Society. Today more than 1,000 homes and buildings have been restored, and Savannah has the largest concentration of historical homes and buildings in the nations. Many of these homes are open to the public for tours, while others have been converted into bed-and-breakfasts. Many old buildings have new homes as offices and restaurants. The art and design school has bought a number of buildings and restored them to use for students. Several times of year, some of the grandest homes are open to the public for tours. Savannah is also the home of Juliet Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, and is a place of pilgrimage for thousands of badge-wearing Girl Scout every year.
Savannah has further found fame as a backdrop for the many movies that have come calling. In 1994, John Berdendt wrote the book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", telling of murder in Savannah Society. In 1997, Clint Eastwood directed the movie and shot it on location. Both are recommendations on my list, and you can find the book and DVD all over Savannah. Movies such as Forrest Gump, Glory Days, and Forces of Nature have all used the beauty of Savannah. There are a number of tours highlighting the connection between Hollywood and Savannah.
Somehow, I am sure General Oglethorpe is looking down and seeing his beautiful city is still going strong. A visit to Savannah today is a reminder of what it was like several hundred years ago. On the outskirts, you will find malls and a more modern Savannah. But downtown, you will find beautiful tree-lined squares and some of the finest renovated historical homes in the nation, proving that many people still enjoy things as they once were.
There are plenty of touring companies, and you can tour by horse- or mule-drawn carriage, trolley, or motor coach. Savannah is one of the top ten walking cities, so you can find plenty of walking tours. Subjects from Civil War history and African-American history to historical homes and gardens and Savannah history can be found all over the city.
Savannah also ranks as one of the most haunted cities in the nation. Invading Yankees, fire, floods, and diseases have left their imprint on Savannah. Many businesses are proud of the fact they have a ghost and have no intention of trying to have them removed. In October, haunted bed-and-breakfasts give visitors a thrill, offering packages that include a haunted tour. Just about every tour company offers a ghost tour. One company even hauls victims (I mean visitors) around in a hearse!
Savannah also has a large number of bars and pubs. Tours of these are also on many tour rosters. Maybe that's why there is a large number of ghosts spotted here. In Savannah, as long as you have your drink in a to-go cup, you may walk around with an alcoholic beverage.
Since Savannah sits so close to the ocean, there is an abundance of fresh seafood. Savannah has a number of superb restaurants, giving visitors a dizzying array of dining options. Local specialties include seafood and low-country cooking, which gets it influences from the African and Caribbean cultures. Since the English founded this, you will find a number of English and Irish pubs. Churchill’s is one of my favorites.
Nightlife in Savannah is not a stoic as you would think. There are a number of bars and restaurants all over the place. Nightclubs can be found, especially away from downtown. Jazz, rock, and Latin salsa all can be found here. Savannah is also a pretty open-minded city and has a very large gay and lesbian community. If you would like to see Lady Chablis from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, then head on over to Club One, where you will find her shows. Their website is www.clubone-online.com.
From Savannah, there are a number of great places for day-tripping. The closest is the lovely Tybee Island. Located only 15 minutes away, it offers visitors sun and fun. The beautiful city of Beaufort, SC, is 45 minutes away. This city is often overshadowed by Savannah and Charleston but offers an equally impressive number of restored historical homes. It is also where a large portion of Forrest Gump was filmed. Charleston, SC, is 100 miles away. The sun-and-fun capital of Hilton Head Island is a little over an hour away. The Sea Islands, which include Cumberland Island, Jekyll Island, and St. Simons Island, are also 100 miles away.
Websites for these are:
Hilton Head, SC
I do encourage everyone to make a visit to Savannah. Her beauty and charm will captivate you. This Southern city is near and dear to my heart. I was stationed here in 1985, while I was in the army. I fell in love with her then and still keep coming back. This is one city that has never left my heart. For more information, go to www.savannah-visit.com.
Written by Armed With Passport on 11 May, 2002
The ship "Anne", commandeered by General James Edward Oglethorpe of England, landed at a natural port on the Savannah River in February of 1733. Oglethorpe and his 120 passengers had landed at a spot later known as Savannah in a new English territory named…Read More
The ship "Anne", commandeered by General James Edward Oglethorpe of England, landed at a natural port on the Savannah River in February of 1733. Oglethorpe and his 120 passengers had landed at a spot later known as Savannah in a new English territory named Georgia in honor of their king, George II of England.
Through the help and goodwill of a local Yammacraw chief named Tomo-chi-chi, the first Savannahians lived in peace and prosperity. Oglethorpe was able to develop trade and quickly went about planning the urban structure of his fledgling city.
Oglethorpe stuck to a traditional idea - the grid pattern - but added his own original twist - the inclusion of twenty-four shaded and green squares place symmetrically throught the city blocks. While this design is aesthetically pleasing, historians have since learned that this street and block scheme was developed to protect Savannah from enemy attack. The blocks were separate and defensible units of land.
Oglethorpe made the grand plan, but only was able to build six squares during his time (Johnson, Wright, Telfair, Ellis, Reynolds and Oglethorpe). Three squares have been demolished for "urban development" (Ellis, Liberty, and Franklin), although Franklin Square has since been restored.
From their inception by Oglethorpe to the present time, each square has acted like a scrap of historical fabric that, when all sewn together, have made a colorful patchwork quilt that is Savannah's urban history.
Monterey Square is the most talked about square in town. It contains Mercer House, famous from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Jim Williams killed Danny Hansford here back in the 1980's. Fans of the book fill the square to view this Italianate house, usually ignoring the monument to Cashimir Pulaski, the highest-ranking officer in Washington's army to die in the Revolutionary War, and Congregation Mckve Israel, the oldest synagogue in the South. The square is named after the Battle of Monterey in the Mexican War.
Madison Square is named after the fourth president, James Madison. At the center is a monument to Sargeant William Jasper, who was killed in the British Siege of Savannah, along with Pulaski. At one end of the square in the Green-Meldrim House, where General William Tecumseh Sherman stayed when Savannah capitulated to Union forces wihtout a fight in 1864, thus saving lives and historical buildings.
Chippewa Square was named for a battle in Canada against the British in the War of 1812. Oglethorpe's statute, designed by Daniel Chester French, is featured in the center of the square. Scene from Forrest Gump were filmed on a temporary bench place next to the street. The Chatham County Courthouse and the old Savannah Theater are also located on the square.
Wright Square is named after Georgia's last colonial Governor, Sir James Wright. The monument in the center is to former mayor and president of the Central Railroad of Georgia, William Gordon. Gordon is the grandfather of Girl Scout founder and Savannah native, Juliette Gordon Low. Yammacraw chief Tomo-chi-chi, who helped Oglethorpe and the 120 passengers of the "Anne", was buried in a corner of the square in 1739; Oglethorpe was a pall-bearer.
Johnson Square, named after the colonial Governor of South Carolina, Robert Johnson, was the first of Oglethorpe's squares. In the middle is the grave of Revolutionary War hero Nathaniel Greene who had a Savannah River plantation; fellow revolutionary Marquis de Lafayette laid the cornerstone to the memorial on a visit in 1825. Today the square is known as the financial center of Savannah (seven banks) and a place to buy watercolors from art vendors on the sidewalk.
Ellis Square, named after the second colonial governor, Henry Ellis, is a reminder of what the consequences are to senseless urban development. The square was turned into an ugly parking garage in the 1950's. The Ellis Square used to contain Savannah's City Market.
Telfair Square was re-named in 1883 after a prominent family that lived on the square (it was formerly St. James Square, named after the one in London). The square is most famous for the Telfair Museum, containing the statue that became Savannah's icon, the "Bird-Girl" from the dust-cover of the book.
Orleans Square is named after Andrew Jackson's famous 1815 victory over the British in New Orleans during the War of 1812. (Why isn't it New Orleans Square?) It contains a fountain given to the city by a German heritage organization in Savannah in 1989. Nearby is the modern Savannah Civic Center and the lovely Champion-McAlpin-Fowlkes House.
Pulaski Square is named after freedom mercenary Count Cashimir Pulaski from Poland. Pulaski has a monument in Monterey Square and a fort on one of the nearby sea islands named after him. The square is known for the tall and old oaks providing shade and green moss for passers-by to rest under.
Chatham Square is named for the Earl of Chatham, William Pitt, and was laid out in 1847. It has a modern playgound in the middle of it. On the square is the brilliant yellow Barnard Hall (now Pepe Hall), recently renovated by the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). The building site was a hospital for General Sherman's troops during the Civil War and now is host to art and architectural history classes from the school.
Franklin Square is named after a famous Philadelphian famous for flying a kite and a key during a thunderstorm. Benjamin Franklin was actually an agent for the colony of Georgia when in London. It was originally called "Water Tank" Square; I can see why they didn't stick with this. On the square is the First African Baptist Church, possibly the oldest black church in North America and an important link in the Underground Railroad.
Written by Armed With Passport on 19 Mar, 2002
MARCH 16, 2002
SATURDAY NIGHT 11:15 p.m.
I'm back in the Hilton at my desk, writing what has happened earlier this day. Toni is lying on the bed, watching the local news coverage of the parade and thr River Street revelry.
After I signed…Read More
MARCH 16, 2002
SATURDAY NIGHT 11:15 p.m.
I'm back in the Hilton at my desk, writing what has happened earlier this day. Toni is lying on the bed, watching the local news coverage of the parade and thr River Street revelry.
After I signed off this morning, the parade began to come by around 11:30 a.m. It started with old men in green jackets coming into the podium area. Then, with much pomp and circumstance, the Grand Marshall arrived. He came in a big beige Chevrolet El Dorado; he was a relatively old and large man. The judges followed him, all clad in green and sat in the chairs on the stage facing us.
Following this procession, we saw the following:
Miss Irish Eyes
Local Senator, Congressmen, the Mayor, Aldermen, and the former Grand Marshalls
Every high school band within a reasonable distance
Ancient Hibernians (playing pipes)
Sinn Fein (no Gerry Adams)
The Savannah Morning News (a float of comic strip characters)
Civil War reinactors
A West Point float with locals playing famous generals, e.g., Norman Swartzkopf, Robert E. Lee, U.S. Grant, and Douglas MacArthur, who came complete with a corn cob pipe)
All the Armed Forces
Floats from Coke, Seaworld, Arby's, Kroger's, Piggly Wiggly, Cingular, and Sprint
And countless other things that I forgot.
The funniest thing is a custom wherein young women put on lots of lipstick and kiss the military men. Rows and rows of stoic, stone-faced warriors kept eyes-forward as the women planted lipstick prints on their cheeks. Not one soldier went by without having lipstick on their face.
After a couple of hours, a couple of beers, and a couple of bruises on our backsides, the parade ended. We bid adieu to our curb mates and headed for lunch at around quarter after two.
We headed up through Madison Square and onto Bull Street. We took a left onto West Jones Street and headed toward Mrs. Wilkes House, a famous family style eatery. There is no sign at 107 West Jones, but a sign on the door said "closed". (We later learned that this establishment is open Monday through Friday for lunch only).
So instead we headed east down Jones Street, looking at houses and wondering how much they were worth and what was for sale. Finally we came upon Clary's at the corner of Jones and Abercorn. This place is famous as the pharmacy-cum-diner where John Berendt meets Luther Driggers, the eccentric genius, who is too anxious to eat.
We went into Clary's and immediately fell into a storm of college kids. After some confusion, we were led to a corner table and then ignored, despite our extreme hunger. We looked at the menu and saw why so many young people were there; the prices were low.
After fifteen minutes, a waitress showed up, apologized and took our order. We got drinks first. A chocolate phosphate for Toni and a Vanilla Cola for me. These drinks were both whipped up at the famous old-fashioned soda fountain and bar. We ordered food as well: grits with butter and cheese; french fries; malted waffles; a ham biscuit; and biscuits in gravy.
The food came relatively quickly. We were happy to see that the grits were green as is the tradition here on Saint Patrick's Day. We scarfed up the food; it was typical southern comfort food.
As we waited for the bill, I took pictures of the soda fountain, the stained glass Clary's sign, and the stained glass picture on the cover of "The Book" (you know, the one with the "Bird Girl"). We took the bill up (only $15) and paid the cashier as is the custom. They push "The Book" merchandise pretty hard at the cashier, especially t-shirts which all the staff wear.
From here we walked off our meal, heading up to Forsythe Park. We sat on a bench next to the Confederate Memorial fountain which was spurting green water. We took in our surroundings: Kids on skates, a man folding palm fonds into flowers, and fields of azaleas in purple, red, white, and fuchsia.
After a while we headed back toward the hotel down Bull Street. Before getting to Monterrey Square, I took a picture of Armstrong House as mentioned in "The Book".
MARCH 15, 2002 11:25 p.m.
Note: This is a continuation of my entry in my written journal. It picks up with my wife and I walking down Abercorn Street toward Oglethorpe Square and The Olde Pink House.
We carried on down Abercorn, walking…Read More
MARCH 15, 2002 11:25 p.m.
Note: This is a continuation of my entry in my written journal. It picks up with my wife and I walking down Abercorn Street toward Oglethorpe Square and The Olde Pink House.
We carried on down Abercorn, walking by neat Gergian houses with wrought iron porches with beaded people drinking on them. Abercorn 23 was our final destination and it took us about fifteen minutes to get there. The Olde Pink House stood in all its pinkness at one of the corners of the beautiful Oglethorpe Square. We walked down the middle of the green square which was already full of tulips, daffodils, and blooming azaleas. A big statue of John Wesley, the founder of the Wesleyan sect and a Savannah resident, was smack in the middle of the square. All along the square were benches, like the one in "Forrest Gump". Was this where they filmed the movie? I need to research for tommorrow. (Note: The scene with Forrest Gump sitting with a box of chocolates and waiting for a bus was filmed in Chippewa Square. After they filmed the scene, they took away the bench).
We made a beeline to The Olde Pink House. It was illuminated by floodlights, so Toni took some photos of the building and the restaurant sign. We entered the restaurant at exactly 8:30 p.m. (perfectly on time!)
Upon entering, we were immediately impressed. The foyer had authentic thick plank wood for a floor and a huge door with a window pane arch over it. It was painted a pale yellow and had a painting of the home owner, James Habersham, next to the reception desk. We headed to a dining room with a roaring fireplace, beautiful chandelier, and paintings of unknown people on the wall. The walls were painted a pale green.
We sat in the half-empty room and pondered the wine list and menu. Our waiter, a college kid from Boulder, CO, suggested a relatively expensive wine from the list. I politely ordered something more reasonable (a sweet and buttery Chardonay, Chateau Ste. Michelle (Columbia Valley) for $30.
After significant negotiation and troubled forethought, Toni and I decided to have soup and salad and then share four different appetizers. Toni chose to order a Caesar Salad with Crisp Corn Bread Oysters. I ordered the She-crab Soup laced with Sherry.
For our four appetizers, we ordered Artichoke Fritters Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Sauteed Local Shrimp with Country Ham and Grits Cake, Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Wild Greens, and Fried Bried with Green Apple and Red Peeper Sauce. Everything was very good, especially the She-crab Soup (which our waiter added sherry to at the table), the Caesar Salad with Oysters, and the Scallops.
We lingered over dinner and took pictures of the interesting-looking dishes. I also took a photo of some cornbread and biscuit that was brought out before our food. I took some photos of the room we were in; the paintings, the fireplace, and the chandelier added to the romantic setting.
We ordered some "no-flour" chocolate cake with raspberry puree. It was pretty good (tasted like fudge), but really filled us up. I then took off and snapped photos in the adjacent rooms of the restaurant. Most had fireplaces and paintings. They were painted ina lipstick red, prussian blue, eggplant (or "Savannah black",as they call it here) and yellow. One room had walls of exposed brick.
Another room had a dumb-waiter modeled after the one Jefferson had in Monticello, according to a waitress. Some of these rooms were upstairs where there was a beautiful view of Oglethorpe Square. Through the open window upstairs one could see the American flag and a Union Jack that the restaurant hung from poles on the building's facade.
I took a copy of the menu and whatever else I could get my hands on. The best surprise of the evening, however, was the old style tavern room downstairs. It was all wood and brick with cosy chairs. Smoke and bourbon filled the air as a piano player sang some jazzy tunes. We wanted to stay, but could not find a chair. We'll have to try to come back.
We walked out of the restaurant and into Oglethorpe Square. Toni took a good shot of some azaleas that were lit up by the square. Instead of going straight back to the Desoto Hilton, we headed down to the Savannah River, walking north on Abercorn Street.
Revellers increased in quanity and drunkeness as we headed toward where the Budweiser was flowing unfettered. The River Street walk was under us (we were on Bay Street, the commercial area connected by some interesting footbridges and byways). The drinkers were all in an "ID-controlled" area full of cobblestones (making for some interesting walking when really drunk). Toni snapped a photo of the fiesta with a large U.S. Coast Guard ship as a backdrop.
We headed down Bay Street toward the City Hall, which was illuminated in green for the occasion. We made fun of some of the drunk partiers (some were real pieces of work with big green Dr. Seuss hats and "deely-bobbers"). We turned south onto Whitaker Street to go back to the Hilton.
I wanted a Guinness before going to bed, so we headed into an Irish pub named O'Connel's. The bouncer didn't card us, so we knew that the place was full of young people. I struggled through some masses to get a Guinness. It was, of course, worth the effort. Tullamore Dew (an Irish whiskey) was giving away shots of whiskey, so I had one of those too. The pub was fun with lots of Irish stuff, but no available seats. I finished the beer and we headed home by way of Perry Street, then Bull Street.
I am now in the hotel watching a promotional tourist program on what Savannah has to offer. I plan on getting up with the sun tommorrow to take as many photos as I can before the parade starts. I'm looking to go to Monterrey Square, Mercer House, Armstrong House, the Savannah Bridge (Talmadge Bridge), the Bonaventure Cemetery, Clary's, and Forrest Gump's bench.
I also want to find out the best place to watch the parade. We may visit the tourist center some time tomorrow as well. For lunch (or whenever the parade ends), we may go to Mrs. Wilkes, Huey's, or Clary's to eat.
As for now, I'm going to read more of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I hope to get to page 200 before I fall asleep. Until tomorrow. . .
Oh, before I sign out for the night, I need to speak about the beads. I forced Toni to get some green beads to wear tommorrow. We got them from a hard-faced, chain-smoking, truck-driver of a woman who had a rolling cart full of "official" beads. The beads she had were in the shape of hemp leaves, shamrocks, and Confederate flags. We just got some regular green beads.