Savannah Then and Now: City Market

Then and Now

Photos: Courtesy of the Georgia Historical Society

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The City of Savannah looks much different than it did when it was founded back in 1733. WSAV is taking a closer look at some of the city’s most iconic locations and how they’ve changed over time.

This week, we’re exploring Savannah’s City Market. The original City Market served as a market for food, livestock and more, in the colonial period.

Municipal Archives Director for the City of Savannah Luciana Spracher says City Market was originally at Ellis Square and consisted of three buildings, including a big wooden building that wrapped around the square.

“It’s been active and stinky and smelly and wonderful,” Spracher said. “It’s where all this activity comes together and merges.”

City Market saw some changes when the main building was erected in 1876, but saw major changes in 1954 when the building was torn down and replaced with a parking area. Spracher says Savannah citizens felt a sense of loss when the building was torn down, feeling like they were “losing a gem.”

She says the community even held a grand ball inside just before the building’s last day standing.

Spracher says tearing the main building down was a turning point for City Market and Ellis Square. In 2007, the revitalization of City Market began, turning it into the public space many know today.

City Market is now a hot spot full of art galleries, restaurants, bars and specialty retail shops. Live music fills the air almost every night.

Though City Market is different now and is a bit of a tourist attraction, Spracher says it still serves its original purpose in a way.

“It is a market where people come together to give and take and share these goods,” she said.

Spracher says the destruction of the original City Market, along with other iconic buildings including the original DeSoto Hotel, were pivotal moments that pushed the preservation movement in Savannah.

We want to hear from you! Send WSAV your Then and Now ideas and historic photos of Savannah to digital@wsav.com.

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