From the Waving Girl, continue walking west on River Street to Rousakis Plaza (River Street behind City Hall), a focal point for local festivals. It’s a great place to sit, feed the pigeons, and watch the huge container ships go back and forth from the Georgia Ports Authority’s sprawling complex farther upriver (you can see the huge Panamax cranes in the distance).
The African American Monument at the edge of Rousakis Plaza was erected in 2002 to controversy for its stark tableau of a dazed- looking African American family with broken shackles around their feet. Adding to the controversy was the graphic content of the inscription at the base of the 12-foot statue, written especially for the monument by famed poet Maya Angelou.
It reads: “We were stolen, sold and bought together from the African continent. We got on the slave ships together. We lay back to belly in the holds of the slave ships in each other’s excrement and urine together, sometimes died together, and our lifeless bodies thrown overboard together. Today, we are standing up together, with faith and even some joy.”
Nearby you can’t miss the huge, vaguely cubist Hyatt Regency Savannah, another controversial local landmark. The modern architecture of the Hyatt caused quite a stir when it was first built in 1981, not only because it’s so contrary to the area’s historic architecture but because its superstructure effectively cuts off one end of River Street from the other.
“Underneath” the Hyatt—actually still River Street—you’ll find elevators to the hotel lobby, the best way to get up off the waterfront if you’re not up for a walk up the cobblestones. Immediately outside the west side of the Hyatt up towards Bay Street is another exit/entry point, a steep and solid set of antebellum stairs, which, despite its decidedly pre–Americans with Disabilities Act aspect, is nonetheless one of the quicker ways to leave River Street for those with strong legs and good knees.
© Jim Morekis from Moon Charleston & Savannah, 4th Edition