One of the most distinguishing features of the sleepy city of Savannah is its squares. In accordance with founder General James Oglethorpe’s exuberance for militaristic order, the city was designed into wards, with a square at the center of each. The city stayed true to this original vision as it expanded, and there are now 24 squares in Savannah.
These shady spots make for great places to soak in that Savannah ambiance—and a little history. Statues, fountains and historical markers all tell the city’s story, while the benches, trees and, yes, Spanish moss exude the nostalgic romance so many have fallen in love with.
If you don’t have time to stroll through all 24, be sure to at least check out these 5 must-see squares:
The oldest and largest Savannah square, Johnson Square is a natural starting place for an exploration of the city. It was the center of life in the city’s early days, and with two stately fountains and a sundial, remains a popular place to kick back. At the center of the square is the monument and grave to Revolutionary War hero Nathaniel Greene.
Johnson Square is located on Bull Street, between Bryan and Congress Streets.
Considered by many to be Savannah’s loveliest square, Monterey Square is more than just a pretty face. Plenty of Savannah history can be enjoyed in or around the square. The historic Mercer Williams House is located alongside the square, as is Congregation Mickve Israel, the only Gothic synagogue in the US. At the square’s center is a monument to General Casimir Pulaski. Monterey Square itself is the setting of the murder in the famous novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Monterey Square is located on Bull Street, between Taylor and Gordon Streets.
The second Savannah square, Wright Square has a lot to say about the city’s history.
A large boulder stands as monument to the square’s original honoree Tomochichi, leader of the native Creek tribe. A trusted friend of Oglethorpe, Tomochichi was buried with honors here. One hundred fifty years later, citizens replaced the monument to Tomochichi with one to William Gordon, a former mayor and important civic figure. His own widow objected to the replacement, and paid for a new monument to Tomochichi—the granite boulder that still rests in the southeast corner of the square.
If that weren’t enough, the Square is also the site of Savannah’s first National Historic Landmark, the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace and Girl Scouts Museum.
Wright Square is located on Bull Street, between State and York Streets.
Life really is like a box of chocolates. Especially when you sit on the bench where Forrest Gump was filmed. While actual bench was a prop (but can be viewed at the Savannah Visitors Center), all the oh-so-sweet Southern scenery is the same. Take a load off and see if you can meet any interesting characters.
Chippewa Square is located on Bull Street, between Hull and Perry Streets.
Perhaps the most tranquil of Savannah’s squares, you couldn’t pick a better spot to relax than Columbia Square. The rustic, carved motif fountain at the center originally stood Wormsloe, the estate of Georgia’s first settler. The Davenport House Museum stands alongside the square. More than just an exquisite example of Federal architecture, the house sparked restoration movements within the city of Savannah—one of reasons you get to enjoy such deliciously ambient attractions like Savannah’s squares today.
Columbia Square is located on Habersham, between State and York Streets.