Lying on Georgia's eastern shores off the Atlantic Ocean, the Port of Brunswick is just 83 kilometers (51.6 miles) north-northeast of Jacksonville, Florida. The Port of Brunswick is also 112 kilometers (70 miles) south-southwest of Savannah, Georgia. The Port of Brunswick is on St. Simons Sound, much of the tourism results from the port's proximity to the "Golden Isles" of St. Simons, Jekyll, Little St. Simons, and Sea Island. In 2004, the G8 summit was held on Sea Island. The Port of Brunswick is home to more than 16 thousand people.
Tourism is the single biggest component of the local economy. The deep-water Port of Brunswick is vital to the area's prosperous shipping and seafood industries. It is southeastern Georgia's chief economic and urban center, and the Port of Brunswick is the seat for Glynn County. The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway separates the Port of Brunswick from the Golden Isles. Georgia-Pacific's mill in the Port of Brunswick has been producing cellulose there since 1937. The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, a part of the US Department of Homeland Security, in nearby Glynco is the biggest employer in Glynn County, and it produces more than $600 million per year to the local economy.
Archaeological evidence shows that people have lived in the Port of Brunswick area as long ago as 2500 BC. Some of the oldest pottery found in the United States to date came from the Port of Brunswick area.
Before Europeans arrived at the future Port of Brunswick, the Mocama people inhabited the area. More recent archaeological artifacts suggest that, a thousand years ago, the Mocama people traded with Mississippian cultures as far away as modern Illinois.
Spanish missions appeared in the Port of Brunswick area in 1568, after which the population of the indigenous peoples began to fall due to disease and slavery.
From the mid-17th Century, both Britain and Spain claimed the lands that would one day hold the Port of Brunswick. Because two empires claimed the territory, little colonization occurred at first.
After the Province of Georgia was created in 1733, the colony's founder, James Oglethorpe, built the town of Frederica on St. Simons Island. In the early 1740s, the British defeated Spain in the battles of Bloody Marsh and Gully Hole Creek. However, the Spanish presence did not end until the 1763 Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War and gave Florida to Great Britain. The official Georgia Colony was soon established.
Mark Carr was the first European settler in the Port of Brunswick area. Arriving in the area in 1738, Carr was a captain in the Marine Boat Company owned by Oglethorpe. When he landed, he immediately laid claim to a thousand acres he called Plug Point to establish a tobacco plantation.
In 1771, the Province of Georgia bought Carr's land and planned the layout of the Port of Brunswick. The new town was named after the German duchy of Brunswick-Luneburg, the original home of the House of Hanover and King George III.
Almost 180 lots had been granted during the three years after the Port of Brunswick was planned. Most of the early citizens were Loyalists that supported the British control of the colonies. Many of those residents escaped the American Revolutionary War by going to Florida, the Caribbean, and the United Kingdom.
After the colonies won their independence, a few families were re-granted the Port of Brunswick lots. The need for education was clear, and in 1788, Georgia's General Assembly appointed eight commissioners for the town and chartered the Glynn Academy.
In 1789, the US Congress recognized the Port of Brunswick as an official port of entry. Almost 10 years later, the State's General Assembly made the Port of Brunswick Glynn County's administrative seat.
By the end of the 1700s, much of the land around the Port of Brunswick had been designated as Commons. The General Assembly authorized the county commissioners to sell 500 acres of the Commons in order to build a courthouse and jail and to support the Glynn Academy. The Port of Brunswick was incorporated as a city in 1856. Four years later, the Port of Brunswick had a weekly newspaper, a sawmill, a bank, and a population of almost 500 people.
During the American Civil War, citizens of the Port of Brunswick were ordered to evacuate the city, and the city was abandoned. After the war, the Port of Brunswick shared the pain of Reconstruction with other Southern cities.
However, when one of the country's biggest lumber mills opened on St. Simons Island, prosperity returned to the Port of Brunswick. Railways linked the Port of Brunswick to inland Georgia. Getting attention from poet Sidney Lanier and the Harper's Weekly magazine in the 1880s, the islands became popular vacation and resort destinations. Many of the country's wealthiest families (the Pulitzers, Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Goodyears) were frequent visitors to the Port of Brunswick.
A 1893 epidemic of yellow fever brought a decade-long slump to the Port of Brunswick. The epidemic followed the Sea Islands Hurricane that left the city under six feet of water. Then in 1898, a second hurricane caused a 4.9-meter (16-foot) storm surge in the Port of Brunswick, killing 179 people.
In 1911, an electric streetcar began operations in the Port of Brunswick. In 1924, a road was opened between the Port of Brunswick and St. Simons Island with the completion of the F.J. Torras Causeway.
The Port of Brunswick was an important military location during World War II. Blimps patrolled the coast searching for German U-boats that threatened the area. Blimps from the Port of Brunswick's Naval Air Station Glynco (the world's biggest blimp base) escorted almost 100 thousand ships without a loss.
The J.A. Jones Construction Company built 99 Liberty and "Knot" ships in the Port of Brunswick during World War II so that the US Maritime Commission could move materials to Europe and the Pacific. The effort brought more than 16 thousand workers to the Port of Brunswick.