Each of Savannah’s twenty-two historic squares is different: its history, its monuments, the architecture of the surrounding buildings. Each, however, carries that feeling of
having stepped into a slower, cooler, more restful place. How
lucky the Savannahians are to have these spaces! Along many
of the cobblestoned paths that criss-cross the squares, there
are benches for sitting and people-watching (in Chippewa
Square, you can sit on the bench where Forrest Gump said,
“Life is like a box of chocolates…”). If there’s no bench, you
can always sit on the cool grass and watch the world go by.
If you’re lucky, you may get to see a slice of city life: a
class of elementary school students on a field trip, studying
the history of their city. Often, though, it’s hard to tell the
natives from the tourists from the funky SCAD art students
(the world-famous Savannah College of Art and Design is
headquartered on the edge of Madison Square). But who
cares? Everyone’s enjoying the feeling of slowing down a bit,
breathing the cooler air and taking a break from the pace and
heat of the city.
As you continue your walk, you cross the square and
emerge at the far end, stepping out into the street again. It’s
as if you’ve suddenly turned up the volume on the TV. Sunlight, voices, cars, quick movement return just as suddenly as
they vanished. Never fear, for within a few blocks, another
oasis of green will appear.
The history of the city of Savannah has taken place mainly
in and around these squares. In General James Oglethorpe’s
original city plan of 1733, the city was divided into organizational areas called ‘wards,’ with the square at its center. Communal activities such as baking bread, gathering water, and
celebrating holidays and victories took place in the squares.
As you stroll across these large, welcoming greens, it’s easy to
imagine these scenes of communal living having taken place
right where you stand.
On the next page, are some of the more notable sights in
and around the squares of Savannah, divided into five ‘square
hopping’ walks, from west to east.