Black History: West Broad Street - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Black History: West Broad Street

The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum was once a very successful bank. The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum was once a very successful bank.

By Dawn Baker email | bio

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - In recent years, we've heard a lot about the City of Savannah's attempt to revitalize the MLK corridor. They've tried to breathe life into an area that at times was pretty deserted.

But, back in the early 1900s that area was booming. Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard or to us old timers "West Broad Street" used to be the hub for black business, not just for the City of Savannah, but also throughout coastal Georgia and South Carolina.

In fact, in the 1930s, Savannah was in the top 12 of most prosperous southern cities.

"Imagine seeing millinery shops where women were able to come and buy hats and dresses as they say they were able to buy some of the best hats and dresses that could be bought on West Broad Street from businesses owned by blacks. There were also luncheonettes, dinettes, and a variety of nightclubs and restaurants. You had the Dunbar Theatre and hotel," explains Jamal Toure', owner of Day Clean Journeys Tour.

Believe it or not, what we call the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum was once a very successful bank.

"Wage Earner Bank building was the most profitable bank in the entire US during the first 3rd of the 20th century. Later on it became the Guaranteed Insurance building where businesses were housed here even the Savannah Herald got its start right here. Across the street from the Wage Earner Bank was Union Station was located there was a train depot that took people along the eastern seaboard and throughout the south," adds Toure'.

To learn more about history in the Low Country and Coastal Empire visit, or to take a tour of the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum visit,  

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