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By Myra Hotchkiss

Step back into 300 years of a magical past in Savannah

To many tourists, Savannah is a beautiful example of laid-back, slow moving Southern life. Moss dripping from trees, charming Southern accents, exquisite food, and lots of incredible history make Savannah the top item on everyone's bucket list.

The city's history is one of dogged determination. First it had to maintain its integrity in the colony years. Second, the city struggled during the Civil War. Many have no idea that the Civil War began in Savannah instead of in Charleston Harbor. The Southerners retrieved Fort Pulaski from the Northern Army three months before Fort Sumter was fired upon. So where is the Savannah of the Civil War located?

River Street

Picture in your mind mud for "streets" and boards for sidewalks. The bricked roadway is the same as it was since Civil War Savannah. Now picture a pub or two alongside cotton exchanges, counting houses and factors' offices.

Factors were agents for family business dealings at that time. Rough sandstone or brick formed the walls of the pubs, offices and exchanges. Listen closely, and you can hear the raucous shouting of men doing business.

Today, the original offices and cotton exchanges are located at the top of River Street. The Hyatt hotel and several offices and shops are located there now, and all behind a black wrought-iron fence shaded by very old oak trees. How many modern cities can claim 300 years of history in which can still be seen the original brick streets, offices, and pubs?

Bay Street

The Bay Street of the Civil War Era wasn't as long as it is now, nor was it as densely populated with buildings. Imagine, if you will, muddy "streets" with clothiers, mercantile establishments, and restaurants in a business district.

One block away can still be seen the tall white-columned court house. A church or two are still detected by their spires rising into the air. Pink painted homes, white, and brick homes are still viewed through the trees, with their verandas wrapping around the houses, their shutters fastened open.

Horses, wagons, and pedestrians would have clogged the street then, as now. Vendors would hawk their wares, and paddle-wheelers would be seen unloading their food and cotton from inland plantations and farms.

Famous Civil War Era Hotels

Although the two most famous antebellum hotels date from the 1700s, they were active in the Civil War Era. They boast exquisite Southern food, history, and all the ghosts anyone would care to not see.

Focus your camera at the wooden shingles and beams in 17Hundred90, a restaurant and inn dating back to the 1700s. Pay special attention to the brick walls and slate floor of the lower level. They are thought to have been associated with an earlier building.

17 Hundred 90 has weathered fire, the storm of Sherman's troops headquartered in Savannah, as well as the vagaries of time. Today, the inn is at the top of everyone's list of things to see and do in Savannah.

When you hit the Georgia state line, you'll begin hearing about the Pirate's House in Savannah. Legend tells us that the underground tunnels were used by pirates to escape when the law was so close they could feel the breath on their necks. Many made it. Those who didn't remain there, sadly looking on as modern-day diners tour the tunnels the pirates used.

It, too, is an inn. Can you picture being tucked in by a ghost of inn-rooms past? As one of the oldest buildings in Georgia , you must get a picture of it!

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