Established in 1876, The Savannah Cotton Exchange was established to provide cotton brokers a place to congregate and set the market value of cotton exported to larger markets, such as New York or London. By the end of the 19th century, planters were selling their products to markets in the U.S via the railroad connections through Savannah. Therefore, there was less of a need for this type of trading.
As the 19th century progressed, Savannah's population increased slightly while its wealth grew exponentially. In 1880, Atlanta exceeded Savannah as Georgia's largest city.
Diversification in Savannah's economy arrived as heavy industry and manufacturing entered into the region during the late 19th century and early 20th century with paper mills, ironworks and the export of naval stores (items such as pitch and turpentine used in shipbuilding) grew steadily. The boll weevil outbreak of the 1920s dealt a devastating blow to the cotton market of Savannah and the South in general. The naval store industry also fell into decline by World War II as other materials largely replaced wood in the manufacture of ships.
In 1955, the demolition of the City Market and the attempted demolition of the Davenport Houseprompted seven Georgia women, led by Lucy Barrow McIntire, to create the Historic Savannah Foundation. In the late 1950s, and throughout the 1960s, the foundation was able to halt some further destruction of historic buildings and to preserve original structures. These efforts, along with the work of smaller preservation groups, have contributed greatly to Savannah's now-famous rebirth. The city's popularity as a tourist destination grew in the 1980s and was solidified by the best-selling 1994 book and movie in 1997, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which was set in Savannah. Savannah has also become a popular destination for people to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and features the second-largest parade in the United States. This may be due to the very lenient public drinking policy that allows open alcohol anywhere in the central historic district.
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