Savannah in Chatham County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
The earliest streets were little more than sandy avenues and virtually all residential, commercial, and public structures were wood. As sailing vessels arrived to discharge and take on cargos, the cobblestones they carried as ballast were often deposited along the Savannah River shoreline. For the city, cobble ballast became an inexpensive, durable, and fireproof building material. Cobble ballast also provided excellent material for paving Savannah's sandy streets. Today, cobblestones used for paving and construction contribute to the charm of the city's waterfront.
Ship Ballast for Paving and Construction in Savannah
A brief examination of the cobblestone that pave Savannah's waterfront streets reveals their diverse nature. This diversity reflects the broad spectrum of ports of call for ships entering Savannah beginning with Oglethorpe's arrival in 1733 to the last days of sail early in the 20th century. That pattern connected Savannah with convenient sources of river cobble and quarried stone in the American northeast, the Maritime Provinces of Canada, the British Isles, France, Spain, Portugal and Madeira.
Not only were some of the structures along Factors Walk constructed with ballast, the retaining walls along the bluff above River Street also employed ballast.
Paving Savannah's Cobble Streets
Because ballast streets were rough surfaces for carriages and later for automobiles, they were frequently paved with brick, macadam or concrete. The photo on the left shows one of Savannah's streets being repaved in the 1930s.
Cross Section of Merchant Vessel
Basalt, Sandstone, Chert, Granite, Limestone, Quartz
Erected 2009 by U.S. Dept. Of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, Georgia Dept. of Transportation. (Marker Number 6.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1733.
Location. 32° 4.87′ N, 81° 5.3′ W. Marker is in Savannah, Georgia, in Chatham County. Marker is on East River Street, on the left when traveling east. East of Abercorn St. Ramp, at the riverside. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Savannah GA 31401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Christmas in Savannah 1864 (within shouting distance of this marker); Confederate Savannah (within shouting River Street Inn (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Salzburger Monument of Reconciliation (about 300 feet away); Savannah's Wharves (about 300 feet away); Shipping in the Port of Savannah (about 400 feet away); The Georgia Hussars (about 400 feet away); Savannah Marine Korean War Monument (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Savannah.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 31, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 4,927 times since then and 97 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on May 31, 2009, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.