2013  HIKING, CYCLING,

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   TOURING HISTORIC SAVANNAH, p. 3

MONDAY, JANUARY 21

 
 
Continued from the previous page . . .

PHOTOS OF THE RENOVATED RIVERFRONT

One of the places we saw on our trolley tour that we wanted to go back to was the Savannah riverfront area.

One weekday we drove to the middle of Emmet Park, which lies between Bay Street and the riverfront about four blocks west of the Pirate's House. We parked long enough to walk through the park, then down to River Street and Factors Walk along the river.

Factors Walk includes a row of narrow brick and stone buildings along the bluff above the Savannah River. In the 18th Century this was the commercial center for cotton and other businesses. "Factors,"  the sales agents and brokers for the merchants, often met there. Hence, the name.

Today the buildings house a wide variety of shops and restaurants. Some are on the upper level facing south toward Bay Street. Others face the long walkway along the river to the north.

We walked down a set of old stone steps to the cobblestone street below, then farther down to the riverfront:


Upper level of the old merchant buildings facing Emmet Park and Bay Street


A trolley carries passengers down from Bay Street to River Street over the rough cobblestones.


Lower level of the long building facing the river

 


Locals sell sweet grass baskets along Factors Walk

This is an interesting place to walk and you don't have to spend any money (except parking, maybe) to enjoy it.

We didn't go into any of the shops or restaurants but enjoyed looking at the architecture (old brickwork, wooden nail heads, intricate ironworks, etc.), watching birds diving for fish in the river, and looking at tugboats and commercial ships coming and going.

 

That's all on the west side of the riverwalk. To the east is Riverfront Plaza, a nice grassy area with the famous "Waving Girl" statue and 1996 Olympic memorial for yachting:

 

There's an interesting legend about the "waving girl."

Florence Martus was the sister of the city light tender who guided ships to and from the docks at night. In the early 1900s Florence was popular with sailors for waving at the passing ships. She reportedly promised her sweetheart that she'd wave to every ship until he returned from sea.

Farther east along the river walk is the Olympic yachting cauldron. Although most of the 1996 Summer Olympic sports were contested in metro Atlanta, the yachting events were held in Savannah. This is the cauldron that held the flame during the event:

 

We sat on the wall above the water for a few minutes, then walked back up to Emmet Park on a set of narrow, steep stone steps:

 

Before we left the park we observed the military memorials -- one for local troops who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, another one for Vietnam veterans with a reflecting pool:


Jim checks out the Viet Nam memorial. It has special significance to him since he was there in 1967-8.

COLONIAL CEMETERY

No historic city tour is complete without a visit to its oldest cemeteries. There are two we walked through in Savannah that have burial plots dating back to the 1700s-1800s.

The oldest is Colonial Cemetery, appropriately located in the middle of the Historic District. Several of the headstones were for infants and toddlers. I've noticed that in other 18th and 19th Century cemeteries -- life was tougher back then.

Colonial Cemetery is also a city park, so more people are likely to pass through. No one has been buried there since 1853.

 

The cemetery originally had many more headstones and other structures than it does now. Many of them were damaged or destroyed when General Sherman's troops used the cemetery as their stabling ground during the Civil War. Fortunately, they left the city's houses and other buildings intact.

When our trolley tour went past the cemetery the driver pointed out the old dueling grounds on the south side of the park. Duels were reportedly fought there for over 100 years. The irony of the juxtaposition with the cemetery wasn't lost on us!

BONAVENTURE CEMETERY

This beautiful 100-acre cemetery is a great place for a long walk up and down its paved and sandy lanes shaded by live oak trees as old as 250 years.

One side of the cemetery borders the scenic Wilmington River. The land was part of a plantation until it became a cemetery in the 1850s.

Some of the graves are very old and quite simple. Others feature elaborate statues or carved stone structures:

 

Those are just a few of the interesting graves we saw as we drove and walked through the large cemetery.

Composer Johnny Mercer and author Conrad Aiken are two of the well-known people buried in this cemetery. I didn't hunt for their graves but they are probably noted during the guided walking tours offered by volunteers.

There is so much to see in historic Savannah that I'm looking forward to coming back again sometime.

Next entry:  historic Wormsloe Plantation

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2013 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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