Discover the Oldest City in Georgia

Written by Kristen Holder
Updated: May 30, 2023
© Sean Pavone/
Share this post on:

Georgia was the southernmost of the 13 original British Colonies that eventually formed the United States of America. The state has a deep history and played a central role in the American Revolution and the Civil War. Let’s discover the oldest city in Georgia by discussing its history and attractions.

What Is the Oldest City in Georgia?

Georgia - US State, Savannah River, Savannah - Georgia, Landscape - Scenery, Marsh
The Savannah River forms the majority of the border between Georgia and South Carolina.

© Allnoch

The oldest city in Georgia is Savannah. It was established in 1733 by General James Oglethorpe of England and quickly became an important port. He and 120 passengers sailed up the Savannah River and created the first planned city in America.

Before much was built, a street grid with wide thoroughfares was created, and 24 designated town squares were planned. 22 of these squares are still in the city today. The border of Savannah kisses South Carolina to the northeast and is delineated by the Savannah River.

Savannah was a slavery stronghold that experienced prosperity on the backs of forced labor. During the Civil War, Union soldiers set a lot of cities in the southeastern U.S. on fire. General William Sherman saved Savannah as a Christmas present for President Lincoln because he thought it was beautiful.

Savannah is the fifth-largest city in Georgia, and around 400,000 people call it home. The Province of Georgia, under colonial rule, used Savannah as its capital. After the American Revolution, Savannah was also the original capital of the State of Georgia, even though Atlanta hosts the state’s government today.

Discover the History of the Cotton Gin in Savannah, GA

Savannah, Georgia, USA at Forsyth Park Fountain.
Forsyth Park Fountain is one of the best-known and most photographed spots in Savannah.

©Sean Pavone/

When an educated Eli Whitney went to live with a friend on their plantation in Savannah, he revolutionized cotton production. He created a machine that removed cotton seeds from the fiber, cutting production time down immensely. This allowed cotton to become America’s primary export by the 1850s.

Catherine Greene was the one who invited Whitney to move south after college, and it’s believed the cotton gin may have been her invention. Because women could not file legal paperwork, Whitney may have been an intermediary.

Eli Whitney and Catherine Greene never saw any riches from their invention. Whitney’s plan had been to market his cotton gin to other southern plantations with payment given in shares of harvests. Plantation owners instead pirated the gin’s design and built their own while improving it.

Eli Whitney used his reputation from his cotton gin invention to land a contract building muskets for the American government. While working on this contract, he developed standardization, so interchangeable pieces are used on mass amounts of equipment. This streamlined manufacturing and sped up assembly times.

Discover America’s Oldest Black Hospital in Savannah, GA

It was common for slave owners to discard their enslaved persons when they suffered from a condition that rendered them unproductive. In response, the Georgia Infirmary was established to care for these individuals. It was the first hospital for black people in the United States and was established in 1832.

In 1838, it moved to its current location where In 1904, it also held one of the first nursing schools for blacks. It stopped being a hospital in 1974 and, in 1975, became a rehab center for stroke victims.

Since then, it’s become an adult day center. The outside of the building is accessible to the public, and the address is 1900 Abercorn Street.

The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

A vista with sleeping alligator at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina.
The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge was founded in 1927 as a sanctuary for water birds over winter.

©Denton Rumsey/

This Wildlife Refuge is in both South Carolina and Georgia. It’s located right outside of Savannah, GA. Some parts of the park, including the visitor’s center, are closed until Spring 2023.

Established on April 6, 1927, its primary function was to serve as a sanctuary for wintering water birds. Some birds found in the park are wood ducks, anhingas, wood storks, purple gallinules, swallow-tailed kites, great blue herons, ospreys, and bald eagles.

The waterways are host to shortnose sturgeon, alligators, and manatees. Land animals frequently encountered include wild hogs, white-tailed deer, bobcats, and wild turkeys.

Bottomland hardwood forests, also called river swamps, make up some of the habitat found within the park. Tidal freshwater marshes are also found in the refuge. There are upland hardwoods on the eastern border of the refuge.

Rice paddies from 1700s plantations have been repurposed into water impoundment areas. They provide important habitats for migratory wading birds. There is a road that allows visitors to peruse these flat pools from a car.

The Oldest Living Tree in Savannah, Georgia

The Candler Oak Tree is the oldest living tree in Savannah, GA. The Candler Oak Tree is a red oak located near Forsyth Park on property owned by the Savannah College of Art and Design. It is believed to be 350 to 400 years old.

This tree is the largest in Georgia, with a 17-foot circumference, 110-foot crown spread, and 54 feet in height. It wasn’t in good shape after years of nearby construction and traffic, but in 1982, conservation efforts began. The Candler Oak was officially recognized in 2004 by the National Register of Historic Trees.

Some parts of the tree are unstable, and its old limbs are heavy. Cables and screws are strategically placed on the tree to keep it healthy.

The Oldest Cemetery in Savannah

The oldest cemetery that still exists in the City of Savannah in Georgia is the Colonial Park Cemetery. It is in Savannah’s Historic District, established in 1750. It is located at 200 Abercorn Street and is open to the public.

It’s had various names throughout its history, including Christ Church Cemetery, Old Cemetery, South Broad Street Cemetery, and the Old Brick Graveyard. It was the main cemetery for Savannah from 1750 to 1853. In 1853, no more internments were allowed.

The cemetery is about six acres in size after three expansions by 1789. There are over 10,000 graves on site and hundreds of gravestones to view.

Button Gwinnett, who signed the original Declaration of Independence, is buried at the Colonial Park Cemetery. He died on May 19, 1777.

On the north side, a mass grave from 1820 holds victims of the Yellow Fever epidemic. Nearly 700 people are buried at this site. While Yellow Fever had devastated Savannah at numerous points over the years, the 1820 epidemic was especially deadly.

Where Is Savannah Located On a Map?

Savannah is located on the east coast of Georgia in close proximity to the border with South Carolina. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the east with many islands that serve as popular tourist destinations interlacing the shoreline. Savannah is the county seat of Chatham County. It’s around 250 miles’ drive from Atlanta and a little over 120 miles’ drive from Augusta, Georgia.

Up Next:

More from A-Z Animals

The Featured Image

Savannah, Georgia, USA at Forsyth Park Fountain.
Georgia has cities older than the USA! In the following article, we'll explore the oldest city in Georgia.
© Sean Pavone/

Share this post on:
About the Author

I'm a fact-driven creative with a love of history and an eye for detail. I graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2009 with a BA in Art History after a STEM-focused high school career. Telling a complex story with real information in a manner that's easy to digest is my talent. When I'm not writing for A-Z Animals, I'm doting on my 3 cats while I watch documentaries and listen to music in Romance languages.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.