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Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island, sometimes referred to as simply Hilton Head, is a Lowcountry resort town and barrier island in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. It is 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Savannah, Georgia, and 95 miles (153 km) southwest of Charleston. The island is named after Captain William Hilton, who in 1663 identified a headland near the entrance to Port Royal Sound, which mapmakers named "Hilton's Headland." The island features 12 miles (19 km) of beachfront on the Atlantic Ocean and is a popular vacation destination. In 2004, an estimated 2.25 million visitors infused more than $1.5 billion into the local economy. The year-round population was 37,099 at the 2010 census, although during the peak of summer vacation season the population can swell to 150,000. Over the past decade, the island's population growth rate was 32%. Hilton Head Island is a primary city within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort metropolitan area, which had an estimated population of 207,413 in 2015. The island has a rich history that started with seasonal occupation by Native Americans thousands of years ago and continued with European exploration and the Sea Island Cotton trade. It became an important base of operations for the Union blockade of the Southern ports during the Civil War. Once the island fell to Union troops, hundreds of ex-slaves flocked to Hilton Head, which is still home to many of whom are descendants of freed slaves known as the Gullah (or Geechee) who have managed to hold on to much of their ethnic and cultural identity.The Town of Hilton Head Island incorporated as a municipality in 1983 and is well known for its eco-friendly development. The town's Natural Resources Division enforces the Land Management Ordinance which minimizes the impact of development and governs the style of buildings and how they are situated amongst existing trees. As a result, Hilton Head Island enjoys an unusual amount of tree cover relative to the amount of development. Approximately 70% of the island, including most of the tourist areas, is located inside gated communities. However, the town maintains several public beach access points, including one for the exclusive use of town residents, who have approved several multimillion-dollar land-buying bond referendums to control commercial growth.Hilton Head Island offers an unusual number of cultural opportunities for a community its size, including the world's first Mermaid Encounter Boat Tour, plays at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, the 120-member full chorus of the Hilton Head Choral Society, the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra, an annual outdoor, tented wine tasting event on the east coast, and several other annual community festivals. It also hosts the RBC Heritage, a PGA Tour tournament played on the Harbour Town Golf Links in Sea Pines Resort.
Tybee Island is a city and a barrier island located in Chatham County, Georgia, 18 miles (29 km) east of Savannah, United States. Though the name "Tybee Island" is used for both the island and the city, geographically they are not identical: only part of the island's territory lies within the city. The island is the easternmost point in Georgia. The famous phrase "From Rabun Gap to Tybee Light," intended to illustrate the geographic diversity of Georgia, contrasts a mountain pass near the state's northernmost point with the coastal island's famous lighthouse. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 2,990. The entire island is a part of the Savannah Metropolitan Statistical Area. Officially renamed "Savannah Beach" in a publicity move at the end of the 1950s, the city of Tybee Island has since reverted to its original name. (The name "Savannah Beach" nevertheless appears on official state maps as far back as 1952 and as recently as the mid-1970s.) The small island, which has long been a quiet getaway for the residents of Savannah, has become a popular vacation spot with tourists from outside the Savannah metropolitan area. Tybee Island is home to the first of what would eventually become the Days Inn chain of hotels, the oft-photographed Tybee Island Light Station, and the Fort Screven Historic District. It is one of the few locations where the U.S. Air Force dropped an atomic bomb—by accident (during a botched 1958 military training exercise). Though the "Tybee Bomb" did not detonate (and, according to some reports, was not armed with a fuse), there has been ongoing concern, since the Mark 15 nuclear bomb lost during the mishap was never found.
Savannah () is the oldest city in the U.S. state of Georgia and is the county seat of Chatham County. Established in 1733 on the Savannah River, the city of Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. A strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the American Civil War, Savannah is today an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport. It is Georgia's fifth-largest city, with a 2020 U.S. Census population of 147,780. The Savannah metropolitan area, Georgia's third-largest, had a 2020 population of 404,798.Each year Savannah attracts millions of visitors to its cobblestone streets, parks, and notable historic buildings. These buildings include the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low (founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA), the Georgia Historical Society (the oldest continually operating historical society in the South), the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences (one of the South's first public museums), the First African Baptist Church (one of the oldest African-American Baptist congregations in the United States), Temple Mickve Israel (the third-oldest synagogue in the U.S.), and the Central of Georgia Railway roundhouse complex (the oldest standing antebellum rail facility in the U.S.).Savannah's downtown area, which includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah Victorian Historic District, and 22 parklike squares, is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States (designated by the U.S. government in 1966). Downtown Savannah largely retains the original town plan prescribed by founder James Oglethorpe (a design now known as the Oglethorpe Plan). Savannah was the host city for the sailing competitions during the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta.
Beaufort ( BEW-fərt, a different pronunciation from that used by the city with the same name in North Carolina) is a city in and the county seat of Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. Chartered in 1711, it is the second-oldest city in South Carolina, behind Charleston. The city's population was 12,361 in the 2010 census. It is a primary city within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area. Beaufort is located on Port Royal Island, in the heart of the Sea Islands and South Carolina Lowcountry. The city is renowned for its scenic location and for maintaining a historic character by preservation of its antebellum architecture. The prominent role of Beaufort and the surrounding Sea Islands during the Reconstruction era after the U.S. Civil War is memorialized by the Reconstruction Era National Monument, established in 2017. The city is also known for its military establishments, being located in close proximity to Parris Island and a U.S. naval hospital, in addition to being home of the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. The city has been featured in the New York Times, and named "Best Small Southern Town" by Southern Living, a "Top 25 Small City Arts Destination" by American Style, and a "Top 50 Adventure Town" by National Geographic Adventure.