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Brunswick, Georgia
Port of Brunswick, Old Town National Historic District, Ritz Theatre, Old Brunswick City Hall, Glynn Academy, College of Coastal Georgia
Port of Brunswick, Old Town National Historic District, Ritz Theatre, Old Brunswick City Hall, Glynn Academy, College of Coastal Georgia
Flag of Brunswick, Georgia
Official seal of Brunswick, Georgia
"Port City"
"Shrimp Capital of the World"
Location in Glynn County and the state of Georgia
Location in Glynn County and the state of Georgia
Country United States
State Georgia
County Glynn
Settled 1738
Founded 1771
Incorporated 1856
 • Type Council-Manager
 • City 25.3 sq mi (65.4 km2)
 • Land 17.1 sq mi (44.2 km2)
 • Water 8.2 sq mi (21.2 km2)
 • Metro
1,286 sq mi (3,332 km2)
 • CCD 42.4 sq mi (109.8 km2)
14 ft (4 m)
 • City 15,383
 • Density 901/sq mi (347.9/km2)
 • Metro
 • Metro density 87/sq mi (33.7/km2)
 • CCD
 • CCD density 1,037/sq mi (400.3/km2)
Demonym(s) Brunswickian
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
31520-31525, 31527, 31561
Area code(s) 912
FIPS code 13-11560
GNIS feature ID 0354878

Brunswick is a city in and the county seat of Glynn County, Georgia, United States. As the major urban and economic center of the state's lower southeast, it is the second-largest urban area on the Georgia coast after Savannah and contains the Brunswick Old Town Historic District.

British colonists settled the peninsula in 1738 as a buffer to Spanish Florida. It came under provincial control in 1771 and was founded as "Brunswick" after the German duchy of Brunswick–Lüneburg, the ancestral home of the House of Hanover. It was incorporated as a city in 1856. Throughout its history, Brunswick has served as an important port city: in World War II, it served as a strategic military location with an operational base for escort blimps and a shipbuilding facility for the U.S. Maritime Commission.

Brunswick supports a progressive economy largely based on tourism and logistics, with a metropolitan GDP of $3.9 billion. The Port of Brunswick handles approximately 10 percent of all U.S. roll-on/roll-off trade—third in the U.S., behind the ports of Los Angeles and Newark. The headquarters of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center is located 5 miles (8 km) north of the central business district of the city and is adjacent to Brunswick Golden Isles Airport, which provides commercial air service to the area. In the 2010 U.S. census, the population of the city proper was 15,383; the urban area, 51,024; and the metropolitan area, 112,370.

Brunswick is located on a harbor of the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 40 mi (60 km) north of Florida and 80 mi (130 km) south of South Carolina. Brunswick is bordered on the west by Oglethorpe Bay, the East River, and the Turtle River. It is bordered on the south by the Brunswick River and on the east by the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in the Mackay River, which separates it from the Golden Isles.


Original city plan for Brunswick, Georgia, 1771
Original town plan (1771)

The Mocama, a Timucua-speaking people, originally occupied the lands in what is now Brunswick. The Spanish established missions in Timucuan villages beginning in 1568. During this time, much of the Native American population was depleted through enslavement and disease. When the Province of Carolina was founded in 1663, the British claimed all lands south to the 31st parallel north, but little colonization occurred south of the Altamaha River as the Spanish also claimed this land. Three years after the Province of Georgia was founded in 1733, James Oglethorpe had the town of Frederica built on St. Simons Island, challenging Spaniards who laid claim to the island. The Spanish were driven out of the province after British victories in the battles of Bloody Marsh and Gully Hole Creek in 1742; it was not until the Treaty of Paris of 1763 that Spain's threat to the province was formally ended, when all lands north of the St. Marys River and south of the Savannah River were designated as Georgia.

Glynn County in 1864
An 1864 map of Brunswick and the surrounding area

The area's first European settler, Mark Carr, arrived in 1738. Carr, a Scotsman, was a captain in Oglethorpe's Marine Boat Company. Upon landing, he established his 1,000-acre (400 ha) tobacco plantation, which he called "Plug Point", along the East and Brunswick rivers. The Province of Georgia purchased Carr's fields in 1771 and laid out the town of Brunswick in the grid plan akin to that of Savannah, with large, public squares at given intervals. The town was named for the duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg in Germany, the ancestral home of George III and the House of Hanover. Brunswick was a rectangular tract of land consisting of 383.5 acres (155.2 ha). The first lot was granted on June 30, 1772; 179 lots were granted in the first three years. However, about this time Brunswick lost most of its citizens, many of whom were Loyalists, to East Florida, the Caribbean Basin, and the United Kingdom for protection during the American Revolutionary War. From 1783 to 1788 a number of these lots were regranted and there collected in Brunswick a few families who desired proper education for their children. By the act of the General Assembly on February 1, 1788, eight town commissioners were appointed and Glynn Academy was chartered, the funding of which was to come from the sales of town lots.☃☃☃☃☃☃ Brunswick was recognized as an official port of entry in 1789 by an act of the United States Congress. In 1797 the General Assembly transferred the seat of Glynn County from Frederica to Brunswick.

At the end of the eighteenth century, a large tract of land surrounding Brunswick on three sides had been laid off and designated as Commons. Commissioners were named in 1796 to support these efforts. The General Assembly authorized them to sell 500 acres (200 ha) of Commons, one-half of the proceeds to go to the construction of the courthouse and jail and one-half to the support of the academy. In 1819 the commissioners erected a comfortable building for school purposes on the southeastern corner of Reynolds and L streets. This was the first public building in Brunswick. It was abandoned four years later, but a new building was erected on Hillsborough Square in 1840 using Commons proceeds. A courthouse and jail were built around this time. The town was officially incorporated as a city on February 22, 1856. By 1860 Brunswick had a population of 468, a bank, a weekly newspaper, and a sawmill which employed nine workers.

Brunswick was abandoned during the Civil War when citizens were ordered to evacuate. The city, like many others in the South, suffered from post-war depression. After one of the nation's largest lumber mills began operation on nearby St. Simons Island, economic prosperity returned. Rail lines were constructed from Brunswick to inland Georgia, which stimulated a sawmill boom, said to average one mill every two miles, along with the new industrial corridor. In his book The New South Comes to Wiregrass Georgia, 1860–1910 author Mark V. Wetherington states that from Eastman, former Quartermaster General Ira R. Foster "shipped lumber to Brunswick, where it was loaded onto timber schooners and transported to international markets like Liverpool, Rio de Janeiro, and Havana." Unlike many other southern cities during the Reconstruction period, Brunswick experienced an economic boom.

In 1878, poet and native Georgian Sidney Lanier, who sought relief from tuberculosis in Brunswick's climate, wrote "The Marshes of Glynn", a poem based on the salt marshes that span Glynn County. The December 1888 issue of Harper's Weekly predicted that "Brunswick by the Sea" was destined to become the "winter Newport of America." Jekyll Island had become a resort destination for some of the era's most influential families (most notably Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Pulitzers, and Goodyears) who arrived by train or yacht.

A yellow fever epidemic began in 1893, which heralded a decade of hardships for the city; it was flooded in 1893 when a modern-day Category 3 hurricane (today known as the Sea Islands Hurricane) paralleled the coast of Georgia before hitting South Carolina. The storm left the city under 6 feet (1.8 m) of water. A Category 4 hurricane hit Cumberland Island just south of Brunswick in October 1898, which caused a 16-foot (4.9 m) storm surge in the city. As a result, 179 were killed.

Construction of an electric streetcar line began in 1909 and was completed in 1911. Tracks were located in the center of several city streets. In July 1924, the F.J. Torras Causeway, the roadway between Brunswick and St. Simons Island, was completed, and passenger boat service from Brunswick to St. Simons Island was terminated. By 1926, the electric streetcar line in Brunswick was discontinued; the decline of the streetcar systems coincided with the rise of the automobile.

In World War II, Brunswick served as a strategic military location. German U-boats threatened the coast of the southern United States, and blimps became a common sight as they patrolled the coastal areas. During the war, blimps from Brunswick's Naval Air Station Glynco (at the time, the largest blimp base in the world) safely escorted almost 100,000 ships without a single vessel lost to enemy submarines.

Liberty ships

Bwk Liberty Ship Launch
A Liberty Ship is launched from Brunswick.

In World War II, Brunswick boomed as over 16,000 workers of the J.A. Jones Construction Company produced ninety-nine Liberty ships and "Knot" ships (type C1-M ships which were designed for short coastal runs, and most often named for knots for the U.S. Maritime Commission to transport materiel to the European and Pacific theatres.

The first ship was the SS James M. Wayne (named after James Moore Wayne), whose keel was laid on July 6, 1942, and which was launched on March 13, 1943. The last ship was the SS Coastal Ranger, whose keel was laid on June 7, 1945, and which was launched on August 25, 1945. The first six ships took 305 to 331 days each to complete, but soon production ramped up and most of the remaining ships were built in about two months, bringing the average down to 89 days each. By November 1943, about four ships were launched per month. The SS William F. Jerman was completed in only 34 days in November and December 1944. Six ships could be under construction in slipways at one time.



Brunswick in relation to its closest urban areas within 500 miles (800 km) with a population greater than 1 million, as well as Savannah for reference.

Brunswick is located in southeastern Georgia, approximately halfway between Jacksonville and Savannah. The city is located at the apex of the bight of the Georgia coast, the westernmost point on the Atlantic seaboard, and is naturally sheltered by two barrier islands, Jekyll and St. Simons. The city is situated on a peninsula with the East River and the Turtle River to the west, the Brunswick River to the south, and the Mackay River with the Intracoastal Waterway to the east. An abundance of salt marshes separates the city from the Intracoastal Waterway, which passes between Brunswick and the barrier islands. The East River separates Brunswick from Andrews Island, a dredge spoil site.

The city is the lowest in the state of Georgia, with an elevation of only 10 to 14 feet (3.0 to 4.3 m) above sea level. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Brunswick's land area is 32.4 square miles (83.8 km2). Its total area is 42.4 square miles (109.8 km2); 10.0 square miles (26.0 km2) of this is water.


Brunswick's climate is classified as humid subtropical (Cfa in the Köppen climate classification system). During the summer months, it is common for the temperature to reach over 90 °F (32 °C). However, the humidity results in a heat index higher than the actual temperature. Summer mornings average nearly 90 percent humidity and nearly 60 percent in the afternoon. Scattered afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Brunswick was 106 °F (41 °C) in 1986. Winters in Brunswick are fairly temperate. The average high in January, the coldest month, is 63 °F (17 °C), while the average low is 44 °F (7 °C). Snowfall is very rare. The last snow accumulation in Brunswick was on December 23, 1989. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Brunswick was 5 °F (−15 °C) on January 21, 1985, and January 30, 1966.

Brunswick receives a high amount of rainfall annually, averaging about 49.6 inches (1,260 mm). The wettest months are August and September, the peak of hurricane season. The city has suffered less damage from hurricanes than most other East Coast cities. A major hurricane has not made landfall on the Georgia coast since 1898, and the only hurricane that has hit the coast since then was Hurricane David in 1979. However, the city has experienced hurricane or near-hurricane conditions several times due to storms passing through Florida from the Gulf of Mexico and entering Georgia or passing to the north or south in the Atlantic and brushing the area.

Climate data for Brunswick, Georgia (1981−2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 86
Average high °F (°C) 62.5
Average low °F (°C) 42.0
Record low °F (°C) 13
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.70
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 8.4 8.8 7.7 6.0 6.7 11.3 11.6 12.6 10.6 7.6 6.3 7.8 105.2
Source: NOAA (extremes 1895−present)


The Brunswick area has four Superfund sites, formerly home to heavily contaminated toxic waste sites: the LCP Chemicals site, Brunswick Wood Preserving, the Hercules 009 Landfill, and the Terry Creek Dredge Spoil Areas/Hercules Outfall. Research published in 2011 revealed that bottlenose dolphins that fed in the estuaries near these Superfund sites had the highest concentration of PCBs of any mammal in the world.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 36
1860 825
1870 2,348 184.6%
1880 2,891 23.1%
1890 8,459 192.6%
1900 9,081 7.4%
1910 10,182 12.1%
1920 14,413 41.6%
1930 14,022 −2.7%
1940 15,035 7.2%
1950 17,954 19.4%
1960 21,703 20.9%
1970 19,585 −9.8%
1980 17,605 −10.1%
1990 16,433 −6.7%
2000 15,600 −5.1%
2010 15,383 −1.4%
2015 (est.) 16,157 5.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 15,383 people residing in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 59.23% Black, 33.21% White, 0.1% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.2% from some other race and 1.5% from two or more races. 11.3% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 2000, there were 15,600 people, 6,085 households, and 3,681 families residing in the city. The population density was 906 people per square mile (349.8/km²). There were 6,952 housing units at an average density of 403.8 per square mile (155.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 59.8% African American, 33.1% White (non-Hispanic), 0.3% Native American, 0.4% Asian, <0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.7% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.8% of the population.

The top five ancestry groups in the city were American (5.3%), English (5.1%), Subsarahan African (4.3%), Irish (4.1%), and German (3.6%). 54.1% of the population reported another ancestry.

In the city the age distribution of the population shows 27.3% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.8 males.

There were 6,085 households out of which 29.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.4% were married couples living together, 24.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.5% were non-families. 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.13.

The median income for a household in the city was $22,272, and the median income for a family was $28,564. Males had a median income of $26,172 versus $18,602 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,062. About 25.2% of families and 30.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 43.9% of those under age 18 and 21.7% of those ages 65 or over.


Arts and theatre

Brunswick is home to a variety of arts and cultural events. The most significant professional performing-arts group is the Coastal Symphony of Georgia, in existence since 1982, which stages productions each year at Glynn Academy's Memorial Auditorium. This group of professional musicians also has a Youth Symphony division and a fundraising auxiliary.

Old Town Brunswick's historic and ornate Ritz Theatre hosts a range of performances. Renovated in the early 1980s and again in 2000 through 2001, the Ritz is home to the Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association, the coordinating arts council for Brunswick and Glynn County. The association hosts an annual performing arts series and rents space to individual producers and organizations.

The city is home to various art galleries. Art Downtown is a cultural arts center featuring a fine art gallery, studio, and production company. It is home to the Brunswick Actors' Theatre. The Gallery on Newcastle is home to a display of scenes from coastal Georgia's marshes.

Along Union Street is a collection of 19th and early 20th-century Victorian mansions. Each December the Magnolia Garden Club tours select Union Street homes in addition to other areas in historic Brunswick as part of its Christmas Tour of Homes.

Sports and recreation

The College of Coastal Georgia has an active collegiate sports program. The local high schools compete in the Georgia High School Association's quad-A Region 2 sporting events. From 1950 to 2007, Brunswick served host to the Golden Isles Bowl Classic, one of the most prestigious junior college football bowl games in the country. Scholastic and intramural sports are held at school and park facilities around the city. Glynn County Stadium and Lanier Field are two sports stadiums available in the city.

Golden Isles Speedway, a 58 mile (1 km) race track, is located in western Glynn County, approximately 20 miles (32 km) west of the city.

The PGA Tour holds the McGladrey Classic every year at the Seaside Course on Sea Island. The area is famous for its golf resorts. In 2008 Sea Island was ranked the number-one destination for business meetings and golf by Golf Digest and USA Today. Sea Island was also ranked number-one among the best golf resorts in North America by Golf Digest. There are three golf courses located just north of the city, and combined with Jekyll, St. Simons, and Sea islands, there are 252 holes of golf in the Brunswick area.

The Brunswick area is home to two out of three publicly accessible beaches in the state. Brunswick is the gateway city to Jekyll and St. Simons islands; both are accessible via automobile only by causeways from the city. The islands, known colloquially as the Golden Isles, feature white-sand public beaches and are popular destinations for tourists and local citizens.

In 1906 the city was home to a Class D-level minor league baseball team, the River Snipes, a team shared with Columbus as part of the inaugural season of the Georgia State League. The league went defunct following that season. In 1913 the Brunswick Pilots debuted as part of the short-lived Empire State League, before joining the Georgia State League in 1914, and the Florida–Alabama–Georgia League in 1915. The Pilots stopped play following the 1915 season. Thirty-six years passed before Brunswick had another professional baseball team. In 1951 the Brunswick Pirates, a Class D minor league affiliate of the major league Pittsburgh Pirates, began to play in the Georgia–Florida League, beginning eight years of presence in the city. The Pirates won league championships in 1954 and 1955. In 1957 the Pirates became affiliates of the Philadelphia Phillies, respectively adopting the name Brunswick Phillies. Following the 1958 season, the Phillies ceased to play. Brunswick was home to the Cardinals of the Georgia–Florida League in 1962 and 1963 before the league disbanded in 1963.

Parks and squares

Lover's Oak, Brunswick, GA, US, 2015
Lover's Oak in Old Town

The Brunswick Parks and Recreation Department operates city parks and squares. Six original squares still exist in the city, although all but one, Hanover, have been bisected by a city street. There are also two additional squares located within the city, Orange, and Palmetto. Numerous parks exist in the city, the largest being Howard Coffin Park. The parks include features such as playgrounds, baseball fields, softball fields, soccer fields, basketball courts, and picnic areas. Coffin Park includes a walking track. The district also owns the Roosevelt Lawrence Community Center, a center equipped with popular and traditional recreational game tables, two classrooms, and a multi-purpose gymnasium.

The Brunswick area is rich in live oak trees, particularly the Southern live oak. Such is the quality of the live oak trees in the Brunswick and the Golden Isles area that Revolutionary warships such as the USS Constitution (nicknamed Old Ironsides) were clad in St. Simons Island oak planks. Brunswick has a notable live oak named "Lover's Oak" (located at Prince and Albany streets). As of 2005, it is approximately 900 years old. According to the State of Georgia and American Indian folklore, Native American braves and their maidens would meet under the oak.


GA Brunswick and St Simons VC stewpot01
The city claims to be the place of origin of Brunswick stew.

The city lays claim to Brunswick stew, a tomato-based stew containing various types of lima beans, corn, okra, and other vegetables, and one or more types of meat. Most recipes claiming authenticity call for squirrel or rabbit meat, but chicken, pork, and beef are also common ingredients. A twenty-five-gallon (95 L) iron pot outside the city bears a plaque declaring the stew was first cooked there in 1898. The Brunswick Rockin' Stewbilee, held annually in October, features a stew-tasting contest where visitors sample over 50 teams' stews. The Stewbilee became famous when the city invited Brunswick County, Virginia, to the festival for a stew cookoff in the 1980s, which led the Brunswick "Stew Wars" to be featured in Southern Living.

Brunswick is the center of Georgia's shrimping industry. The city was once called "The Shrimp Capital of the World", but in recent times, production has been far below average. Nevertheless, nearby Jekyll Island hosts the Wild Georgia Shrimp & Grits Festival in September. Apart from shrimping, the area is also the center of Georgia's crab and oyster industries.

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