The 20th Century And Beyond In Savannah Pt 1

Dated: August 24 2017

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    The first decade of the 20th Century brought fame and excitement to Savannah. In 1908, automobile races attracted nationally and internationally acclaimed drivers to compete on a course which ran down Waters Avenue and through Isle Of Hope. These immensely popular races were repeated in 1910 and 1911. In 1912.

     JULIETTE GORDON LOW founded the Girl Scouts of America in Savannah which was influenced by the Girl Guides and Robert Baden-Powell’s efforts with the Scouting Movement. Her carriage house on Drayton Street behind the Andrew Low House became the organization’s first headquarters. The Girl Scouts became the nation’s largest organization devoted to developing leadership, service and survival skills for young women. 

    The second decade of the 20th Century brought disaster to the Savannah cotton market through the introduction of the BOLL WEEVIL, a pest which fed on cotton plants, into Georgia. By 1924, the weevil was virtually eradicated, but by this time Georgians had learned to diversify their cash crops, and Savannah had become a center for the refining of sugar. An increase in the demand for naval stores also kept the port busy. With the advent of WORLD WAR I, the port of Savannah became a center for shipbuilding and maintenance. New docks were built, and a new terminal for the Ocean Steamship Company was erected just west of the city. Savannah added a new personality to its ranks of the famous when Captain FRANK O. HUNTER became a flying ace during the war. The City would later name its airport in his honor, and when the Army took over the airport it retained the name of Hunter Field. Old Estill Avenue was renamed Victory Drive as a memorial in honor of Chatham County’s fallen troops. 

    In the 1920s, the “Jazz Age” business flourished in Savannah, as it did in the rest of the nation. Legendary songwriter JOHNNY MERCER, who composed hits like “Accentuate the Positive” and “Days of Wine and Roses,” began his career as an actor in the Town Theater Group. Acclaimed Southern writer FLANNERY O’CONNOR was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital, which was located at Taylor and Habersham streets, and spent much of her childhood in Savannah. In 1927, the SAVANNAH NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE was officially established. Located across the Savannah River, just west of the city, it is the largest of seven wildlife refuges administered from Savannah extending from the Pinckney Refuge near Hilton Head to Wolf Island near Darien. The city’s first radio station, WTOC, began broadcasting in 1929.

     In 1930, as a result of the Great Depression, the city saw the beginning of momentous and largely difficult changes. The port experienced a major decline in shipping, and banks failed all over Georgia. During the Great Depression, many Savannahians were aided by the Works Progress Administration. Under its auspices, Savannah High School on Washington Avenue was constructed. Young men in the Civilian Conservation Corps restored Fort Pulaski, which had been named a national monument in the 1920s. Savannah and the state celebrated its bicentennial in 1933 with balls, street dances, parades and pageants along with a visit from United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Joe “King” Oliver brought his Creole Jazz Band to Savannah. Oliver continued to live in Savannah until his death in 1938. Jazz continued to be an important part of Savannah’s cultural life, with artists like Lucius Bryant, Jr., Savannah’s first modern drummer and Nat Allen, trombonist.

Excerpt is courtesy of Barbara C Fertig's Tour Guide Manual for Savannah

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Jenny Rutherford

Meet Jenny Rutherford Jenny Rutherford Real Estate, LLC. Where did you grow up? I grew up on a farm at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. I've lived in several states, including Virgi....

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