Savannah City Market, now one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations, had a very different beginning than what you would expect. The original market, founded in 1733, stretched from Barnard Street to Jefferson Street on St. Julian Street, which is currently Ellis Square. It consisted of only three buildings back then. Savannah City Market has long been described as the heart of the city, and a place to buy and sell food like fruit, vegetables, and meat, as well as livestock. By 1755, it was not only the hotspot for fishermen and farmers to sell their goods, but also where the horse drawn carriages would drop off all the locals for social and commercial gatherings. Though it has changed quite a bit over the years due to various reasons, such as fires and wear and tear, the area remains packed full of rich history and charm.
In 1954, the city of Savannah approved the demolition of the old city market and built a parking garage at Ellis Square. Many locals were upset by the demolition and in turn decided to take matters into their own hands, starting the Savannah preservation movement. Later on, the new city market was built using remains of the old city market, and the parking garage was moved underground in hopes of restoring and transforming the area into a public space for fun and entertainment. Today, Savannah City Market is a charming, bustling, history-rich environment for locals and tourists to eat, shop, view art, enjoy live music and participate in nightlife. Keep reading for ways to enjoy the history and fun of the place that thrives as the heart and soul of Savannah.
Looking for an experience packed full of history? Check out the American Prohibition Museum. Fun fact! The American Prohibition Museum is the first and only museum dedicated to the history of the Prohibition era and it’s located right here in Savannah City Market! The museum takes guests back through time, with the help of 21st century technology, to experience the early 1900s’ and all it had to offer like flappers, bootleggers, gangsters and speakeasies. After touring the museum, stop in to the speakeasy to grab one of their signature old-fashioned cocktails.
Hungry but don’t want to leave all the history and excitement of City Market? Stop into Belford’s Savannah. Although the building was built in 1902 by Hyman Witcover for the Savannah Hebrew Congregation. In 1923, the Belford family purchased the building for their wholesale food company. The building has been the Belford’s Savannah restaurant since 1996. The restaurant’s award-winning menu items, such as steak and seafood and collection of fine wines, along with deep Savannah history gets this restaurant highly recommended by locals and visitors alike. Belford’s is a must-try!
Are you an art lover? If so, City Market has many galleries and studios for you to explore. One of the oldest is the Signature Gallery of Savannah. Founded by two local Savannah artists, Signature Gallery opened its doors in 1992 and has since been a sunny, delightful gallery with a variety of artists and artwork. It’s a unique experience that you won’t want to miss.
Nightlife in Savannah is always thriving, especially in City Market. From live music to late night games of pool, and all kinds of cocktails, you’ll find everything you need in City Market! The Bar Bar, founded in 1993, serves as a laid back type of place with affordably priced drinks, pool tables, foosball, and even a dancefloor. In need of a frozen drink to cool you off from that Savannah heat? Wet Willie’s has been serving “the world’s greatest frozen daiquiris” since 1990. This bar is the perfect combination of fun, fruity and casual!