For this assignment, I mapped destinations listed in “The Negro Motorist Green-Book: 1940,” and the destinations featured in Savannah’s Black Heritage travel brochure from 2018. By applying both layers to the same map, I was able to contextualize Black tourism over time.
According to the 1940 Green-Book, most of the destinations are clustered along the West side of the city. The list of destinations includes a tourist camp, restaurant, service station, drug store, tailor, historical sites (a church and a Native American excavation site), two beauty parlors and a beauty school. Based on their locations, you can see pockets of Black communities, however, they are relatively spread apart.
Many of the destinations were located on, or to the left of present-day MLK street (at the time, West Broad Street) until most were torn down by the Savannah Development and Renewal Authority (SRDA) in preparation for the construction of Interstate 16. I was able to locate a few of the destinations using the “West Broad Street Appraisals” from 1958, from the Digital Library of Georgia. (https://dlg.usg.edu/record/gsg_3205-040_3205-040-folder1) It appears that West Broad Street could have served as a major physical and racial barrier.
Similarly, the destinations listed in the 2018 Black Heritage Brochure are located near the 1940 locations. However, many locations are mirrored on the East side of the city. They include additional historical sites, museums, monuments, restaurants, cultural tourist attractions, and even contemporary historical sites. The tourist attractions, like the Gospel & Gullah Geechee River Tour, are located in a heavy tourist area, and historic business district. While many of the contemporary historic sites (like museums and restaurants) fall into historically Black locations. It would be interesting to see an additional layer of total tourist attractions, to see possible trends in tourist segregation.
Looking at both sets of data, you can see that the center of the city and southeast regions of the city are completely empty, suggesting significant racial segregation. The racial geography of the city is further illustrated with a comparison of a redlining map from 1930. According to the map, the prominent Black neighborhood of Yamacaw unmistakably falls in the “hazardous” zone. All of the destinations from 1940 fall in the “hazardous” or “definitely declining” categories. It was interesting to compare the 2018 destinations to the redlining map, as they are located in the small pockets of “definitely declining” and “hazardous” zones. Or, they are located in a “still desirable” zone. Whereas, the empty space represented on the map accounts for the “best” zones.
All of the services fall on the city’s periphery, which seems systematic and purposeful. From photos in the appraisals and google maps, you can also see disparities in housing or building construction. Most of the Black heritage sites are made from wood, whereas buildings outside of these pockets have brick foundations. Today, and, in the photos from the appraisals, wood houses appear to decay. Which further illustrates wealth inequality in geographic space.