There are lots of places in Savannah where "old and new" go hand in hand. One is City Market—a popular open-air marketplace in the Historic District. It's located on the site of what has been a social and commercial heart of Savannah for hundreds of years and it captures the character of the original 19th century marketplace while offering a present-day mix of commerce and culture.
It all began…
…back in the mid-1700s not that long after General Oglethorpe founded the city. At the time there were six squares and the area adjacent to Ellis Square was the place to gather, swap news and do business in early Savannah. It bustled with farmers, fishermen and other merchants who brought horse-drawn wagons of crops, seafood and mercantile goods to sell in open-air stalls. And as time went on, it drew locals who hopped aboard jitneys to go to the Market to buy daily goods and other wares, and attracted folks from across the Southeast who came to buy and trade.
There were businesses too. And if you stepped back in time, you'd hear the scrape and tap of farriers' tools as horses were shod, the cadenced hammering of blacksmiths forging metal on an anvil, and the murmur of conversations carried across the air from where barbers trimmed hair.
Over the years…
…the face of Savannah's City Market saw several changes. Two of the buildings were claimed by fires in two different years. The replacements that came afterward were both demolished—one after the Civil War and the other in 1954 to make way for a parking garage.
The building lost to the wrecking ball in 1954 had a big goodbye bash referred to as the Market Ball. And although the battle that was waged by seven women to save the grand old brick structure was not won, the building's demise sparked the formation of the Historic Savannah Foundation, which has saved 350 buildings and counting. Plus, the old warehouses around the Market were spared.
Today's City Market…
…encompasses four city blocks and the collection of feed, seed, grain and produce warehouses of yesteryear that have been refashioned into a destination for art, dining, retail and entertainment. It still has the bustling atmosphere of the old Market and there are still horse-drawn carriages, albeit for sightseers. Now, though, rather than farmers and fishermen the following are the mainstay:
Specialty stores: Shoppers and browsers will find an eclectic blend of shops and boutiques with an array of items, including Southern confections, baked goods (for people and pets), clothing and fashion accessories, gourmet foods, cigars, books (by Savannah authors and about Savannah), Georgia-made and Georgian-grown products, gifts and souvenirs.
Entertainment: Those sauntering through City Market are apt to hear the soulful sounds of street musicians or the musical stylings of a live band or two. Jazz melodies fill the nighttime air around several of the clubs housed there. And, special events like the St. Patrick's Day festival and an annual vow renewal ceremony are also part of the City Market scene.
Eateries: When it comes to dining, there's something to please most any palate. Market-goers can grab light fare at one of casual spots; savor a sit-down meal at a restaurant in a turn-of-the-century brick building or at a charming café redolent of a European bistro; or kick back in the cove of courtyards with a sweet treat, a "Cup of Joe" or other libation.
Art galleries: City Market is also home to several art galleries where the work of dozens of artists can be explored. Oftentimes, local artists will drop by the galleries to chat with the customers. And market-goers can also watch the artists at work in the Art Center Studios.Known as the "Art and Soul of Savannah," City Market helps to make The Hostess City a place you love to live—one where charm resides, culture thrives, scenic beauty reigns, the welcome mat is always out, and laid back is a well-honed art form. At Live Love Savannah we say, "You should love where you live!" And nothing delights us more than helping people find homes they love right here in our hometown. Let's talk soon.
City Market web site
City Market shopping
City Market entertainment
City Market dining
City Market art galleries
Historic Savannah Foundation