Spending anytime along River Street or even Tybee for that matter you will see some really amazing ships! Savannah is, just as it was during it's inception, a port city. I'm not sure James Oglethorpe (Savannah's founder) would have guessed his little city would become the fourth busiest port in the country. The very foundation of Savannah's infrastructure is rooted in shipping!
Many of the cobblestones found in coastal towns, like those that line River Street, were brought from Europe! An empty ship does not sail well. It's too buoyant and gets jostled around by wind and waves too much. The ships coming from Europe were mostly empty as they were coming to bring the riches of America back to europe. Before leaving Europe the ships ballasts were lined with cobblestones. When the ships arrived to our fair city the stones were removed from the ships and then the vessels were loaded with goods to be sent back. It's hard for me to imagine, in this age of instant news and communication, the excitement an incoming ship would bring to the settlers of Savannah. Friends, loved ones, supplies, news? All reliant on wind and current to get here.
Savannah has lent its name to several historic ships. Most notable are the SS Savannah (the first steamship to cross the Atlantic) and the NS Savannah (the first nuclear-powered cargo-passenger ship). These historic ships are dwarfed by what comes to the Savannah ports these days. Ships like the Roma and the Figaro, both at 1100 feet long, make the twenty plus mile long trek up the Savannah river to our port. They are here for a few days and are gone again. Where are they heading next? I don't know, but they are an important part of Savannah's past, present, future, and are always welcome to our little city.
Local tip: The north beach on Tybee, Fort Jackson, Fort Pulaski, and of course our historic River Street are all great vantage points to see ships coming in and out of Savannah. Being on River Street is absolutely the best spot and gives the observer a sense of the size of these ships.
The Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum is a great visit for those interested in Savannah's maritime history!