While most American cities in the 1970s were abandoning historic properties and replacing them with cul-de-sacs, sprawl garbage and grotesque architecture that now makes up the urban landscape, Savannah was beginning the process of restoring and reusing its historic structures. Much of this was the result of the efforts of the Savannah College of Art and Design, which put massive resources into the preservation of the city. Savannah's status as a major international port city also helped provide the resources necessary to redevelop the historic district.
Savannah has the same problems (i.e. crime, not enough high wage jobs) that can be found in all urban areas. But what separates Savannah from most cities, and I'll call this the Savannah Lesson, is that they have created a city worth caring about. The ethic of preserve and reuse is deeply entrenched to the point where even new developments are forced to conform to architectural standards consistent with the classic structures.
In Savannah there's an ethic of preservation, the most beautiful homes are easily accessible via sidewalk and you find porta-potties in public parks. In Oshkosh our first instinct is to close buildings that have not been well maintained (see "Scenario 7"), just placing sidewalks in neighborhoods with nice homes is controversial and we had to have golden commodes in Riverside Park. So much for the progressive midwest!