While we’ve visited Charleston, SC several times, this was our first visit to Savannah. Like Charleston, it is a city rich in history. Much of it, of course, having to do with the Civil War. This, by the way, is the 150th anniversary of that great American tragedy. And both cities are filled with visitors, many of whom are here for that history (we arrived in Charleston yesterday; I don’t know that I’ve ever seen more people wandering the streets).
While in Savannah, we happened to be walking by the First African Baptist Church near the City Market just as Sunday services were ending. This is one of the oldest African American churches in the south and was supposedly a “station” on the underground railroad. There are tunnels beneath the church that run to the nearby Savannah River, although historians aren’t positive that they were used for that purpose. As luck would have it, we ran into the minister of the church who very graciously took us on a short tour. He then introduced us to a woman who was a walking history book. I think I learned more from her about black history in the South in a space of about 30 minutes than I’ve ever learned from books. She was utterly amazing.
The image, of course, has nothing to do with any of that. My wife had stopped to do a little shopping while I hung out on the street. I happened to look up and saw this couple enjoying the evening warmth. They’re obviously residents since they seemed to know some of the people passing by in the street below.
I do like Savannah. It seems less “formal” than Charleston. It was also spared by Sherman on his march to the sea. It’s said that he spared the city because he thought it was pretty and wanted to offer it to President Lincoln as a birthday present. Charleston wasn’t so lucky. That city was under siege and naval bombardment for about a year.
If I had to choose a favorite, though, it would still be Charleston. There is more character in this small American city, I think, than you’ll find anywhere else.