As much as Savannah has changed, it has stayed the same

As much as Savannah has changed, it has stayed the same

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - I wonder what I would think of Savannah if I just arrived today.

I wonder what I would decide about it. Twenty four years ago this month, I came here for a job interview that led to a whole life.

The job was a job, but the city was the attraction. A quaint, friendly small town with an impish side that came out at night. Or maybe that was me.

But counter-balancing the charm and kindness of the people was an unavoidable drawback. Savannah was a dangerous place in 1991, with a record 60 murders that year and the highest murder rate in the country five years earlier. Still, somewhat hesitant, I sat on a bench on River Street and decided to move here.

The decision was easy to justify. The violence back then seemed less random, orchestrated largely by one drug gang. And the tide seemed to have already turned, Ricky Jivens having been sentenced to life in prison, also 24 years ago this month.

But similar catalysts for change are not so evident now, the worst Savannah's crime issue has been since the worst it ever was.

"There are a lot of guns out on the streets of Savannah," Assistant Police Chief Julie Tolbert said earlier this week while addressing the city's high crime. "And people are not afraid to use them, as you can see at this point."

Savannah has better shops and restaurants than it did in 1991. Its downtown has grown, grown more beautiful and more modern while retaining its history.

A lot has changed. Sadly, it's not as different as it should be, meaning it's not as attractive as it could be.

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