Savannah In Photos & Drawings: 1864-1908

Part 1 of 2 posts

Want to see what Savannah looked like in the late 1800’s?

These 150 year old photos and drawings from during the war to just after the turn of the century will give you an idea of what the city looked like back in the day.

Brief History

Established in 1733, Savannah was the 18th largest city in the US by 1820– based upon slavery, rice, cotton and international trade. The city had recovered from the yellow fever epidemics and the major hurricane of 1854. According to the 1860 US census, there were about 22,000 inhabitants, a third of which were slaves. By 1864, it was the Confederacy’s sixth most populous city and the world’s largest supplier of cotton– making it a prime target for US General William Tecumseh Sherman– who spared destruction of the city giving it to President Lincoln for a Christmas present.


Map of Savannah in 1812, showing Oglethorpe’s acclaimed “Savannah Plan” of streets and squares. The polygonal grids surrounding the city on the west, north and east were tidal rice fields. The areas just south of town were for local food production and a city commons.


Bay Street and the Savannah River 1864

1864 b4 sherman

General Sherman’s Army Entering Savannah- Dec. 21, 1864

Shermans army enter sav

General Sherman’s headquarters- the Gothic revival Green-Meldrim House still extant today


Sherman’s Headquarters on New Year’s Day 1865


St. John’s Church 1865

St John 1865

Fountain at Forsyth Park 1865


West Broad Street at River Street, Savannah Ca. 1865 


Cotton Bales on River Street 1865 


Bay Street 1867 

1867 bay st


After Reconstruction, the city grew to about 65,000 by 1910.

The Greek revival Chatham County Courthouse, as photographed in 1889, was built in 1833.

Chatham County Courthouse 1833-1889

Hotel Tybee 1895- end of the railroad line at Tybee Island beach

Hotel Tybee 1895 built by rr

Shipping Cotton, Savannah ca. 1900 


Savannah’s beautiful Union Station on West Broad Street (now MLK) 1902 


Loading a Lumber Schooner 1902 



1904  Cotton Steamships

savannah-cotton 1904



Liberty Street ca. 1905 


Ruins of Hermitage Plantation 1907

The Hermitage, Oak Avenue vista, Savannah, Georgia, 1907


Hermitage Plantation

Previous slave’s cabins at Hermitage Plantation ca. 1907  


The DeSoto Hotel 1908

1908 desoto

 1908 Bird’s Eye View of Savannah

Birds Eye View, Savannah Georgia 1908 part 1 (2).preview


Germania Bank, one of the first “skyscrapers” in Savannah, built in 1904, photographed prior to 1913.  This building was demolished in 1975.


Map of Savannah in 1910


In Part 2, photos will show the rise, decay and rejuvenation of 20th century Savannah.


Until then, here is a current view of Savannah from the river.




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