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Savannah: 1905

Savannah: 1905

Savannah, Georgia, circa 1905. Detroit Publishing glass negative. View full size.


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Different time...

The old man and the dog, pulling up a chair to watch the world goes by. Also appears to be a purple martin birdhouse. And I wonder what the two phantoms are carrying there?

Liberty Street tracks

The streetcar tracks were used by the E&W Belt Line. The E referred to East Broad Street and the W to West Broad.

In addition to their "E&W Belt" destination sign, cars on this route carried a dash sign indicating that they served Union, Central, and Tybee Depots. They basically looped via West Broad, Liberty, East Broad (with a deviation that I guess served Tybee Depot), and (I think) Bay Street.

I do not know if the loop was operated one way or two way (the cars obviously did not pass at this corner!). When I moved to Savannah and went to the grade school of which Ms. Romana Riley was Principal, the only streetcar lines left were Habersham, Isle of Hope, East Savannah, and Thunderbolt-BonaBella.

Re: Liberty and Drayton

The tracks are for electric streetcars, not cable cars.

Even Savannah Has Changed

It's likely this picture was taken from the De Soto Hotel that used to stand on this corner. That old building was Romanesque Victorian, and was ripped down in the 60s, to be replaced by a Hilton.

If you google streetview the corner of Liberty and Drayton, you realize that almost none of the buildings in the foreground of the picture remain. The last building on Victory (the boulevard with trees) that can be seen is still there.

On a positive note, the rather bleak patch of grass before the large building dominating the right side of the picture, has filled in with trees. It is part of the famous Colonial Park Cemetery, which, just a few years before, narrowly missed being the site of a new courthouse.

Brush Double-Carbon Arc Lamp

The street lamp suspended over the intersection at bottom center of the photo is a Brush double-carbon arc lamp, a smaller and more widely used version of the larger "moonlight tower" lamps used in Detroit and other cities. Brush arc lamps were named for their inventor, Charles Francis Brush (1849-1929) of Cleveland, who made a fortune from this and other electrical inventions. The Brush street lamp is recognizable by its pair of carbon node rods in their open glass sphere, as in this period engraving.

More astonishing perhaps was Brush's wind turbine generator, the world's first, which he invented in 1888 to provide electrical power to his large mansion in Cleveland, built in 1884 with the proceeds from his arc lamps. The immense wind turbine charged a dozen large storage batteries that reliably powered the residence for 20 years.


These views, with their startling clarity, give us an unparalleled opportunity to look into our own past. Thanks are due to the Detroit and Washington firms as well as others that gave us so many views of our past and that of our nation. Thanks, too, to Dave for his excellent selections.

Corner of Liberty and Drayton

You can barely make out the street signs on the corners of the two buildings on the left, noting this as Liberty Street. If you download the uncompressed archival version you can read "TON" on the street sign for the cross street, the rest being hidden underneath the shutter. That would make this the corner of Drayton and Liberty, looking north. This corner is now the home of Drayton Tower, an apartment building built in the late 40's.

You can see the long gone tracks for the cable cars along the median on the bottom there.

On the left side towards the top you can see "Big Duke," the three-ton firebell that used to stand on Oglethorpe Street, it is now part of a fireman's memorial on the same site.

Farther up on the left are the masts of a tall ship at the River Street ports.

The domed building to the far right is the old County Jail, on Habersham street, now one of the buildings owned by the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Boy this makes me homesick!

The chairman

Appears to be handing out pamphlets or broadsides. Wish I could read one ... I do seriously believe he knows the secret of a good life.

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