The red Romanesque Cotton Exchange building was constructed in 1887 when cotton was king in Savannah. In front of the exchange is a fountain whose centerpiece is a terra cotta sculpture of the mythical winged lion called he griffin. Around the fountain is a fence with with medallions featuring the images of US Presidents and famous poets. The fountain was constructed in 1889, but the statue was destroyed by an out-of-control car in September 2008.
A plaque at the Cotton Exchange Building reads:
Old Savannah Cotton Exchange
The Savannah Cotton Exchange building was completed in 1887 during the era when Savannah ranked first as a cotton seaport on the Atlantic and second in the world. In its heyday as a cotton port over two million bales a year moved through Savannah. The Cotton Exchange was the center of activity in the staple which dominated this city's economic life before its evolution into a leading industrial seaport.
The Exchange was designed by the nationally-known Boston architect, William Gibbons Preston (1844-1910). His design won out in a competition participated in by eleven architects. The Exchange is believed to be one of the few structures in the world erected over an existing public street.
The beautiful iron railing around this grass plat, with panels featuring medallions of famous statesmen, authors and poets, once graced the ante-bellum Wetter House in Savannah.
The former Cotton Exchange is now the headquarters of the Savannah Chamber of Commerce, which cordially invites you to drop in for a visit.
The area known as Factors Walk was Savannah's original cotton trading area. It was constructed in 1817, with just two floors along the river that housed the cotton coming into port. In 1853, three more floors were added for additional storage and offices. The upper floors can be reached from street level via numerous narrow iron pedestrian bridges that cross over the street known as Factors Walk. Below the iron bridges are cobblestone streets leading down to the water's edge.
"Factor" was the name given to the men who estimated the amount of cotton in a shipment. They calculated, or "factored" the amount of cotton and its worth. Today the entire area is generally referred to by this same name.
This old port and warehouse district is now the core of the tourist area with shops selling tourist junk, restaurants, a few bars, a museum, and a hotel named the River Street Inn. The place is really, really touristy and really didn't seem to be worth my time.
This very picturesque area was designed to further the cotton trade. The offices/warehouses were built into the side of the bluff overlooking the River. The factors awere the men who inspected and calculated (factored) the value of the loads of cotton. The retaining walls and the street surfaces were built with cobblestones brought from England and used as ballast in ships.
Now the whole area is filled with stores and restaurants, very touristic!
Factors Walk is a historic walk spanning Bay Street to River Street. Streets, now lined with shops, restaurants and night spots, are paved with cobblestones brought as ballast by early sailing ships. But back in 1817, it was the original site for the Cotton Exchange. The first two floors of Factors Walk were for the cotton coming into port. Then, in 1853, three more floors were added. The third floor was used for storage, and the fourth and fifth floors were offices. Soon the whole riverfront bluff consisted of alleys and walkways. These alleys and walkways were later called Factors Walk. It was named this because the men who worked with the cotton exchange were called factors. They factored how much cotton was brought in to be sold. Thus, they were given this name. Factors Walk was the centre for most commercial activities. A network of iron and concrete walkways connected the buildings to the bluff. Factors Walk was an important part of Savannah's history for, as we all know, this city played a big role in the cotton industry for over a century.
Factor's Walk is a great place to spend an afternoon. Right above River Street, Factor's Walk is a series of little bridges that lead to little shops- mostly antique shops. If you are looking for a slice of Savannah's deep history, or just enjoy antiquing, check out some of the shops at factors walk. There are great old knick knacks, souveinirs and great finds. These antique shops are densely packed with little treasures, which means if you want, you can take your time in each store, examining their wares.
From its own postcard:
"During the 19th century, the 4- or 5-story buildings along the watefront were home of the cotton market/warehouse below and offices above. The Iron walkways connected the upper stories with the bluff giveing cotten factors (brokers_ easy access to their business".