Savannah, located along the U.S. Intracoastal Waterway has an estimated 128,500 residents as of 2005, which ranks it fourth in population for the state of Georgia. According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary (with etymologies), the name "Savannah" means "Shawnee;" it derives from a Muskoghean Indian word—a variant of Sawanoki, the native name of the Shawnees. Georgia colonists adopted this name for the Savannah River and then, later, for the city.The city's architecture and history are internationally known, and it is just as famous for the signature Southern charm and hospitality which gave it the distinction of "Hostess City of the South."
19th century development in Savannah was dominated by the emergence of cotton as a widespread cash crop and a subsequent shift in the economy of the city. The development of Georgia’s interior had a tremendous impact on Savannah, as cotton production was focused on lands newly appropriated from the Creek Indians, along the upper Savannah River. Farmers on both the Georgia and South Carolina sides of the river shipped their cotton downriver to market and export in Savannah's shipping port, one of the most frequented ports in the United States. The city grew to be one of the richest cities as well.
Today, Savannah is home to the famous Gulfstream Aerospace, maker of private jets, as well as Great Dane Trailers. Economic development is supported by a wide variety of commerce companies and venues like The Savannah International Trade & Convention Center and The Savannah Civic Center that is host to over 900 events each year.
Millions of visitors tour Savannah homes, which represents the nation's most valuable living collection of 18th and 19th century architecture. Founded by General James Oglethorpe in 1733, Georgia's colonial capital now encompasses six historic neighborhoods, and each spring Savannahians open their doors to visitors during the Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens. Savannah's downtown area is the largest National Historic Landmark District and its physical layout, innovative for the time, was designed in a series of wards built around central squares, with trust lots on the east and west sides of the squares for public buildings and churches, and tithing lots for the colonists' private homes on the north and south sides.
The squares vary in size and personality, from the formal fountain and monuments of the largest square, Johnson, to the playgrounds of the smallest square, Crawford. Elbert, Ellis, and Liberty Squares are classified as the "lost squares," destroyed due to development in the 1950s. Elbert and Liberty Squares were paved over to make way for an extension of Interstate 16, while Ellis Square was demolished to build the City Market parking garage. Separate efforts are under way to revive each of the three lost squares. The city has recently razed the City Market parking garage in order to build a new parking facility underground, with a new park on the street level.
Other sites and areas of historical interest include Riverfront Plaza and Factors Walk, City Market, and homes of distinction like the Pink House, Sorrel Weed House, Juliette Gordon Low birthplace, Owens-Thomas house, Wormsloe Plantation of Noble Jones, Mercer House, and the former home of Jim Williams, the main subject of the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.