Savannah,Georgia, the seat of Chatham County. Savannah lies on the Savannah River at the South Carolina boundary, about 10 miles (16 km) from the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of Georgia's chief commercial and industrial centers and a leading port. Produced here are lumber, transportation equipment, fabricated metals, chemicals, processed foods, fertilizers, petroleum products, and paper. Shipping is the major industry, and naval stores, such as turpentine and rosin, are a major export. The city is also a popular tourist center. Several railways, an airport, a network of highways, and the Intracoastal Waterway serve Savannah.
Savannah is noted for its pre-Civil War mansions; broad, tree-lined streets; and numerous squares, parks, and gardens. The Low Mansion, one of Savannah's most prominent buildings, was the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of America. On the riverfront is Factors' Row, a group of restored 19th-century warehouses and offices; it is named for the cotton factors (ships' agents) who once worked here. Savannah's notable churches include the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Wesley Monumental Methodist Church, and Christ Episcopal Church, where John Wesley, founder of Methodism, was once the minister. The Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences displays paintings, sculpture, and antique furnishings.
Armstrong State College and Savannah State College are here. Nearby are several historic forts, including Fort Pulaski, now a national monument. The city has the council-manager form of government.
Savannah was founded by General James Oglethorpe in 1733 and was the first permanent settlement in Georgia. It was made the colonial capital when Georgia became a royal colony in 1754. During the Revolutionary War, when Savannah was the state capital, the city was held by the British from 1778 until 1782. It was chartered as a city seven years later. Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin here in 1793; thereafter, Savannah grew steadily as a cotton center and port. The first sailing ship to cross the Atlantic using some steam power, the Savannah,sailed from here to Liverpool, England, in 1819.
Savannah was an important Confederate supply depot during the Civil War. It resisted Union attacks until December, 1864, when General Sherman captured it, ending his March to the Sea.