Savannah was co-founded by James Oglethorpe in 1733. Considered America’s first planned city, Oglethorpe is responsible for the city’s pretty public squares. The idea was to give debtors a new lease of life but Oglethorpe’s utopian plan was a failure. He took people from the urban core of London and told them they will become farmers — in clay soil in the southern heat.
Oglethorpe was also very restrictive — alcohol wasn’t permitted; families were restricted to the property they were allocated; lawyers and Catholics weren’t allowed; and slavery was initially banned. Until it wasn’t. The anti-materialistic, equitable vision Oglethorpe had for the city wasn’t realized. By 1750, slavery arrived with a vengeance. Being a port city, making it an invaluable prize as a naval base and supply center, Savannah was spared from ignition by Union forces in 1865. Charleston was also spared since the Confederate army had already abandoned it.
Today, both cities are brimming with artisans and gourmands doing innovative things with Southern ingredients. By honouring the past without being overly wedded to it, transplants like Bill & David at Sugar Bakeshop (Charleston, NC) and Cheryl & Griffith at Back in the Day (Savannah, GA) are creating culinary alchemy.
Don’t let Charleston’s ‘old South’ reputation confuse you; Zero George hotel has no doilies or chintz. What it does have: restored colonial architecture, Architectural Digest-worthy interiors, an inventive local restaurant and plenty of shaded piazzas (that’s a veranda, in Charleston-speak) for your afternoon kiki.