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Savannah History

Originally inhabited by the Yamacraw Indians, the city was settled by the English in 1733. In an effort to attract settlers to the surrounding Province of Georgia, Savannah welcomed many groups fleeing religious persecution in Europe. The city soon become a multi-ethnic mix of Jews, French Huguenots, Scottish Presbyterians, Moravians and more. It eventually became the colonial capital of Georgia, whose swampy lowlands were now home to rice plantations worked by enslaved West Africans. The Savannah River was a major trade route throughout the early days of the colony, increasing the city's wealth and attracting more and more citizens. The city's fortunes fell after the Civil War (a dark spot in Savannah history), though the shipping industry perked it up somewhat in the early 1900s. Savannah's downtown slowly emptied as the population moved to the suburbs, and many of the more beautiful buildings fell into disrepair. It was only in the 1970s and 1980s that tourism began to revive the city. Much of the area outside the historic core remains impoverished to this day.