Tom Hanks’ 1994 portrayal of Forrest Gump was groundbreaking at the time, although the decision to cast an able-bodied actor as someone with an intellectual disability is now viewed as outdated. Regardless, Forrest Gump remains an iconic piece of American cinema, illustrating the atmosphere and turmoil of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s while also capturing the beauty of the American South. The film garnered six Academy Awards, including “Best Picture.”
Many scenes of Forrest Gump were filmed in Beaufort, South Carolina, but Savannah, Georgia, also played a significant role. As America’s first planned city, Savannah was founded in 1733 by General James Edward Oglethorpe, who designed the city with 24 squares at its core. Chippewa Square, in the heart of the downtown historic district, is where the movie’s iconic bench scene takes place.
Forrest Gump fans visiting Savannah should explore Chippewa Square, the beautiful park where Tom Hanks’ character shares his life stories. During the film’s production, four distinct benches were utilized, with one being gifted to the city after filming concluded.
The whereabouts of the remaining three prop benches are uncertain, but they are highly sought-after collector’s items, fetching prices comparable to Judy Garland’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.
The donated bench ultimately found its permanent residence in the Savannah History Museum.
The museum, housed in a 19th-century railway shed, showcases Savannah’s military history, art, and culture, with the famous bench on display. Although sitting on the bench is prohibited at the museum, movie enthusiasts can explore the square and view the famous bench by arranging a Forrest Gump Film Tour.
Fans can also visit Debi’s Restaurant, where the character Jenny, played by Robin Wright, worked as a waitress. The eatery continues to serve Southern comfort food at affordable prices. Love’s Seafood Restaurant, another filming location, is where Jenny performed as an entertainer, singing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind” while sitting naked behind her guitar.
Lastly, the First Baptist Church is featured in the film’s opening scene as a feather drifts down past the building. Dating back to 1800, the Greek Revival church is Savannah’s oldest surviving church and is accessible through private tours. A short walk away, visitors can explore the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, considered one of the top 10 historic sites to visit in the South.
Overall, Savannah, Georgia, offers a captivating experience for Forrest Gump enthusiasts, blending the film’s iconic moments with the city’s rich history and Southern charm.