Tybee Island was a mostly undeveloped tropical island situated 12 miles east of Savannah in the 1880s when businessman Daniel Purse bought most of the island with the intention of transforming it into a seaside resort destination. There were no roads to Tybee at the time. To overcome the obstacle of a two-hour boat ride from Savannah, Purse built a railroad connecting Tybee to Savannah. Thousands of new tourists began flocking to Tybee's beautiful beaches, though most could not stay due to inadequate lodging accommodations. In 1889, Savannah National Bank president and future mayor of Savannah Herman Myers and investors constructed Hotel Tybee, which was one of the finest hotels in the country. For over seven decades, Hotel Tybee hosted vacations, conventions, social events, and gambling. The establishment was ravaged by fire in 1909 but was resurrected more magnificent than before. It witnessed hurricanes, wars, a riot, murder, Prohibition, and the Great Depression.
Author Bio: Author Harry Spirides owns Ocean Plaza Beach Resort, which stands on the former site of Hotel Tybee. Spirides, whose family has operated businesses on Tybee for 70 years, obtained images from the Georgia Historical Society, Georgia Archives, Tybee Island Historical Society, and other sources to take readers on a visual journey that thoroughly details the history of Hotel Tybee.
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