The Full Wiki

More info on Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...

More interesting facts on Charleston, South Carolina

Include this on your site/blog:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

—  City  —
The corner of King St. and Market St. in Charleston

Nickname(s): "The Holy City", "Chucktown"
Motto: Aedes Mores Juraque Curat (She Guards Her Buildings, Customs, and Laws)
Location of Charleston, South Carolina.
Coordinates: 32°47′00″N 79°56′00″W / 32.7833333°N 79.9333333°W / 32.7833333; -79.9333333
Country United States
State South Carolina
Counties Charleston, Berkeley
 - Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
 - City 178.1 sq mi (376.5 km2)
 - Land 147.0 sq mi (361.2 km2)
 - Water 17.1 sq mi (44.3 km2)
Elevation 20 ft (4 m)
Population (2008)
 - City 126,567 (est.)
 Density 996.5/sq mi (384.7/km2)
 Metro 644,000
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 843
FIPS code 45-13330[1]
GNIS feature ID 1221516{{GProxy-Connection: keep-alive

Cache-Control: max-age=0


Charleston is a city in Charleston County, South Carolina in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It is the largest city and county seat of Charleston County.[2] The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location (Oyster Point) from a location on the west bank of the Ashley River in 1680; it adopted its present name in 1783. In 1690, Charleston was the fifth largest city in North America,[3] and remained among the ten largest cities in the United States through the 1840 census.[4]

Charleston is known as The Holy City due to the prominence of churches on the low-rise cityscape, particularly the numerous steeples which dot the city's skyline, and for the fact that it was one of the few cities in the original thirteen colonies to provide religious tolerance to the French Huguenot Church.[5] In fact, it is still the only city in the U.S. with such a church.[6] Charleston was also one of the first colonial cities to allow Jews to practice their faith without restriction. Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, founded in 1749, is the fourth oldest Jewish congregation in the continental United States.[7] Brith Sholom Beth Israel is the oldest Orthodox synagogue in the South, founded by Ashkenazi (German and central European) Jews in the mid 19th century.[8]

The population was estimated to be 118,492 in 2007, making it the second most populous city in South Carolina, closely behind the state capital Columbia.[9] Current trends put Charleston as the fastest-growing municipality in South Carolina.

The city of Charleston is located just south of the mid-point of South Carolina's coastline, at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. Charleston's name is derived from Charles Towne, named after King Charles II of England.

America's most-published etiquette expert, Marjabelle Young Stewart, recognized Charleston 1995 as the "best-mannered" city in the U.S,[10] a claim lent credibility by the fact that it has the first established Livability Court in the country.



Colonial period: 1670-1776

After Charles II of England (1630-1685) was restored to the British throne following Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate, he granted the chartered Carolina territory to eight of his loyal friends, known as the Lords Proprietors, in 1663. It took seven years before the Lords could arrange for settlement, the first being that of Charles Town. The community was established by English settlers in 1670 on the west bank of the Ashley River, a few miles northwest of the present city. It was soon chosen by Anthony Ashley-Cooper, one of the Lords Proprietors, to become a "great port towne", a destiny which the city fulfilled.

Homes along The Battery.

The settlement was often subject to attack from sea and from land. Periodic assaults from Spain and France, who still contested England's claims to the region, were combined with resistance from Native Americans, as well as pirate raids. While the earliest settlers primarily came from England, colonial Charleston was also home to a mixture of ethnic and religious groups. French, Scottish, Irish, and Germans migrated to the developing seacoast town, representing numerous Protestant denominations, as well as Roman Catholicism and Judaism. Sephardic Jews migrated to the city in such numbers that Charleston eventually was home to, by the beginning of the 19th century and until about 1830, the largest and wealthiest Jewish community in North America[11]

By the mid-18th century Charleston had become a bustling trade center, the hub of the Atlantic trade for the southern colonies, and the wealthiest and largest city south of Philadelphia. By 1770 it was the fourth largest port in the colonies, after only Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, with a population of 11,000, slightly more than half of that slaves.

Charleston was the hub of the deerskin trade. In fact, deerskin trade was the basis of Charleston's early economy. Trade alliances with the Cherokee and Creek insured a steady supply of deer hides. Between 1699 and 1715, an average of 54,000 deer skins were exported annually to Europe through Charleston. Between 1739 and 1761, the height of the deerskin trade era, an estimated 500,000 to 1,250,000 deer were slaughtered. During the same period, Charleston records show an export of 5,239,350 pounds of deer skins. Deer skins were used in the production of men's fashionable and practical buckskin pantaloons for riding, gloves, and book bindings.

Rice and indigo had been successfully cultivated by slave-owning planters in the surrounding coastal low-country. Those and naval stores were exported in an extremely profitable shipping industry. It was the cultural and economic center of the South.

As Charleston grew, so did the community's cultural and social opportunities, especially for the elite merchants and planters. The first theater building in America was built in Charleston in 1736. Benevolent societies were formed by several different ethnic groups. The Charleston Library Society was established in 1748 by some wealthy Charlestonians who wished to keep up with the scientific and philosophical issues of the day. This group also helped establish the College of Charleston in 1770, the oldest college in South Carolina and the 13th oldest in the United States.

American Revolution: 1776-1785

As the relationship between the colonists and England deteriorated, Charleston became a focal point in the ensuing American Revolution. It was twice the target of British attacks. At every stage the British strategy assumed a large base of Loyalist supporters who would rally to the King given some military support.[citation needed] On June 28, 1776 General Henry Clinton with 2000 men and a naval squadron tried to seize Charleston, hoping for a simultaneous Loyalist uprising in South Carolina. When the fleet fired cannonballs, the explosives failed to penetrate the fort's unfinished, yet thick palmetto log walls. Additionally, no local Loyalists attacked the town from behind as the British had hoped.

Clinton returned in 1780 with 14,000 soldiers. American General Benjamin Lincoln was trapped and surrendered his entire 5400 men force after a long fight, and the Siege of Charleston was the greatest American defeat of the war (see Henry Clinton "Commander in Chief" section for more). Several Americans escaped the carnage, and joined up with several militias, including those of Francis Marion, the 'Swampfox,' and Andrew Dickens. The British retained control of the city until December 1782. After the British left the city's name was officially changed to Charleston in 1783.

Antebellum: 1785-1861

Old Slave Mart Museum

Although the city would lose the status of state capital to Columbia, Charleston became even more prosperous in the plantation-dominated economy of the post-Revolutionary years. The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 revolutionized this crop's production, and it quickly became South Carolina's major export. Cotton plantations relied heavily on slave labor. Slaves were also the primary labor force within the city, working as domestics, artisans, market workers or laborers. By 1820 Charleston's population had grown to 23,000, with a black majority. When a massive slave revolt planned by Denmark Vesey, a free black, was discovered in 1822, such hysteria ensued amidst white Charlestonians and Carolinians that the activities of free blacks and slaves were severely restricted.

As Charleston's government, society and industry grew, commercial institutions were established to support the community's aspirations. The Bank of South Carolina, the second oldest building constructed as a bank in the nation, was established here in 1798. Branches of the First and Second Bank of the United States were also located in Charleston in 1800 and 1817. By 1840, the Market Hall and Sheds, where fresh meat and produce were brought daily, became the commercial hub of the city. The slave trade also depended on the port of Charleston, where ships could be unloaded and the slaves sold at markets.

In the first half of the 19th century, South Carolinians became more devoted to the idea that state's rights were superior to the Federal government's authority. In 1832 South Carolina passed an ordinance of nullification, a procedure in which a state could in effect repeal a Federal law, directed against the most recent tariff acts. Soon Federal soldiers were dispensed to Charleston's forts and began to collect tariffs by force. A compromise was reached by which the tariffs would be gradually reduced, but the underlying argument over state's rights would continue to escalate in the coming decades.

American Civil War: 1861-1865

The ruins of Mills House and nearby buildings, Charleston A shell-damaged carriage and the remains of a brick chimney in the foreground. 1865.

On December 20, 1860, following the election of Abraham Lincoln, the South Carolina General Assembly made the state the first to ever secede from the Union. On January 9, 1861, Citadel cadets fired the first shots of the American Civil War when they opened fire on the Union ship Star of the West entering Charleston's harbor. On April 12, 1861, shore batteries under the command of General Pierre G. T. Beauregard opened fire on the Union-held Fort Sumter in the harbor. After a 34-hour bombardment, Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Officers and cadets from The Citadel were assigned to various Confederate batteries during the bombardment of Fort Sumter. The city under siege took control of Fort Sumter, became the center for blockade running, and was the site of the first successful submarine warfare on February 17, 1864 when the H.L. Hunley made a night attack on the USS Housatonic.[12]

In 1865, Union troops moved into the city, and took control of many sites, such as the United States Arsenal, which the Confederate army had seized at the outbreak of the war. The War department also confiscated the grounds and buildings of the Citadel Military Academy, which was used as a federal garrison for over 17 years, until its return to the state and reopening as a military college in 1882 under the direction of Lawrence E. Marichak.

Postbellum: 1865-1945

Confederate Memorial at White Point Gardens.

After the defeat of the Confederacy, Federal forces remained in Charleston during the city's reconstruction. The war had shattered the prosperity of the antebellum city. Freed slaves were faced with poverty and discrimination. Industries slowly brought the city and its inhabitants back to a renewed vitality and growth in population. As the city's commerce improved, Charlestonians also worked to restore their community institutions. In 1867 Charleston's first free secondary school for blacks was established, the Avery Institute. General William T. Sherman lent his support to the conversion of the United States Arsenal into the Porter Military Academy, an educational facility for former soldiers and boys left orphaned or destitute by the war. Porter Military Academy later joined with Gaud School and is now a K-12 prep school, Porter-Gaud School. The William Enston Homes, a planned community for the city's aged and infirmed, was built in 1889. J. Taylor Pearson, a freed slave, designed the Homes, and passed peacefully in them after years as the maintenance manager post-reconstruction. An elaborate public building, the United States Post Office and Courthouse, was completed in 1896 and signaled renewed life in the heart of the city.

On August 31, 1886, Charleston was nearly destroyed by an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale. It was felt as far away as Boston to the north, Chicago and Milwaukee to the northwest, as far west as New Orleans, as far south as Cuba, and as far east as Bermuda. It damaged 2,000 buildings in Charleston and caused $6 million worth of damage ($133 million(2006 USD)), while in the whole city the buildings were only valued at approximately $24 million($531 million(2006 USD).

Modern-day: 1945-present

City Market, now occupied by the Daughters of the Confederacy and a popular tourist location

Charleston languished economically for several decades in the 20th Century, though the large military presence continued to shore up the local economy. The Charleston Hospital Strike of 1969 was one of the last major events of the civil rights movement and brought Ralph Abernathy, Coretta Scott King, Andrew Young and other prominent figures to march with the local leader Mary Moultrie. Its story is told in Tom Dent's book "Southern Journey." It was not until the election of Joseph P. Riley, Jr as mayor that the city experienced a modern day renaissance. Riley has been the major proponent of reviving Charleston's economic and cultural heritage. The last thirty years of the 20th century saw major new reinvestment in the city, with a number of municipal improvements and a commitment to historic preservation. These commitments were not slowed down by Hurricane Hugo and continue to this day. The hurricane hit Charleston in 1989, and though the worst damage was in nearby McClellanville, the storm damaged three-quarters of the homes in Charleston's historic district. The hurricane caused over $2.8 billion in damage. The city was able to rebound fairly quickly after the hurricane and has grown tremendously in population, reaching an estimated 126,567 residents in 2008.


Charleston has a strong mayor-council government, with the mayor acting as the chief administrator and the executive officer of the municipality. The mayor also presides over city council meetings and has a vote, the same as other council members. The council has twelve members who are elected from one of twelve districts.

Emergency services

Fire department

Fire department station houses for Engines 2 and 3 of the Charleston Fire Department.

The City of Charleston Fire Department consists of 237 firefighters in 19 companies located throughout the city.[13] The department operates on a 24/48 schedule, and had a Class 1 ISO rating until late 2008, when ISO officially lowered it to Class 3.[14] Russell (Rusty) Thomas served as Fire Chief until June 2008, and was succeeded by Chief Thomas Carr in November 2008.

Police department

The City of Charleston Police Department, with a total of 382 sworn officers, 137 civilians and 27 reserve police officers, is South Carolina's largest police department. Their procedures on cracking down on drug use and gang violence in the city are used as models to other cities to do the same. According to the final 2005 FBI Crime Reports, Charleston crime level is worse than the national average in almost every major category.[15] Greg Mullen, the former Deputy Chief of Police in the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia, serves as the current police chief. The former Charleston police chief was Reuben Greenberg who resigned August 12, 2005). Greenberg was credited with creating a polite police force that kept police brutality well in check even as it developed a visible presence in community policing and a significant reductions in crime rates.[16]

EMS & medical centers

Emergency medical services for the City of Charleston are provided by Charleston County Emergency Medical Services (CCEMS) & Berkeley County Emergency Medical Services (BCEMS). The city is served by both Charleston & Berkeley counties EMS and 911 services since the city is part of both counties.

Charleston is the primary medical center for the eastern portion of the state. The city has several major hospitals located in the downtown area alone: Medical University of South Carolina Medical Center (MUSC), Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, and Roper Hospital. MUSC is the state's first school of medicine, the largest medical university in the state, and the sixth oldest continually operating school of medicine in the United States. The downtown medical district is experiencing rapid growth of biotechnology and medical research industries coupled with substantial expansions of all the major hospitals. Additionally, more expansions are planned or underway at several other major hospitals located in other portions of the city and the metropolitan area: Bon Secours-St Francis Xavier Hospital, Trident Medical Center, and East Cooper Regional Medical Center. The Medical University of South Carolina is the largest employer in the city limits.


The following table shows Charleston’s crime rate in six crimes that Morgan Quitno uses for their calculation for "America's most dangerous cities" ranking, in comparison to the national average. The statistics provided are not for the actual number of crimes committed, but how many crimes committed Per Capita.[17]

Crime Charleston, South Carolina (2007) National Average
Murder 12.8 6.9
Rape 50.3 32.2
Robbery 244.1 195.4
Assault 515.6 340.1
Burglary 676.5 814.5
Automobile Theft 1253.8 391.3

Since 1999, the overall crime rate of Charleston has begun to decline. The total crime index rate for 1999 was 597.1 crimes committed per 100,000 civilians. the United States Average is 320.9 (Per Capita). Charleston had a total crime index rate of 430.9 per 100,000 residents for the year of 2007.

According to the Congressional Quarterly Press '2008 City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America, Charleston, South Carolina ranks as the 124th most dangerous city larger than 75,000 inhabitants.[18][19] However, the entire Charleston-North Charleston Statistical Metropolitan Area had a much higher overall crime rate ranking at #21.[20]

Infrastructure and economy

Economic sectors & major employers

Charleston is a major tourist destination, with a considerable number of luxury hotels, hotel chains, inns, and bed and breakfasts and a large number of award-winning restaurants and quality shopping. The city is well-known for its streets lined with grand live oaks draped with Spanish moss, and the ubiquity of the Cabbage Palmetto, which is the state tree of South Carolina. Along the waterfront in an area known as Rainbow Row are many beautiful and historic pastel-colored homes. The city is also an important port, boasting the second largest container seaport on the East Coast and the fourth largest container seaport in North America.[21] Charleston is becoming a prime location for information technology jobs and corporations, most notably Blackbaud, Modulant, CSS and Benefitfocus.

Charleston is also an important art destination, named a top 25 arts destination by AmericanStyle magazine.[22]



Airport Sign.svg

Charleston is served by the Charleston International Airport (IATA: CHSICAO: KCHS), which is the busiest passenger airport in the state of South Carolina. The airport shares runways with the adjacent Charleston Air Force Base.

Interstates and highways

Interstate 26 enters the city from the northwest and connects the city to its airport, Interstate 95, and Columbia, South Carolina. It ends at the Septima Clark Expressway downtown, which travels across two-thirds of the peninsula before merging into the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge. The bridge and Septima Clark Expressway are part of U.S. Highway 17, which travels east-west through the cities of Charleston and Mount Pleasant. Interstate 526, or the Mark Clark Expressway, forms a half-circle around the city. U.S. Highway 52 is Meeting Street and its spur is East Bay Street, which becomes Morrison Drive after leaving the Eastside. This highway merges with King Street in the city's Neck area (Industrial District) to form Rivers Avenue. U.S. Highway 78 is King Street in the downtown area, eventually merging with Meeting Street to form Rivers Avenue.

Major highways

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge across the Cooper River opened on July 16, 2005, and is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Americas. The bridge links Mount Pleasant with downtown Charleston, and has eight lanes and a 12-foot lane shared by pedestrians and bicycles. It replaced the Grace Memorial Bridge (built in 1929) and the Silas N. Pearman Bridge (built in 1966). They were considered two of the more dangerous bridges in America and were demolished after the Ravenel Bridge opened.

The new Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge, constructed in 2005, is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere.

Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority

The logo of CARTA

The city is also served by a bus system, operated by the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA). The majority of the urban area is served by regional fixed route buses which are also equipped with bike racks as part of the system's Rack & Ride program. CARTA offers connectivity to historic downtown attractions and accommodations with DASH (Downtown Area Shuttle) trolley buses, and it offers curbside pickup for disabled passengers with its Tel-A-Ride buses.

Rural parts of the city and metropolitan area are served by a different bus system, operated by Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Rural Transportation Management Association (BCD-RTMA).


Columbus Street Terminal viewed from the southwest.

The Port of Charleston consists of five terminals. Three are on the Harbor and the other two are on the Cooper River just north of Charleston's bustling harbor. The port is ranked number one in customer satisfaction across North America by supply chain executives.[23] Port activity, behind tourism, is the leading source of Charleston's revenue. The port is also a destination for several cruise lines, including Celebrity Cruise Lines and Carnival Cruise Lines with the ship Carnival Fantasy, with service beginning in May 2010.


  • Columbus Street Terminal
  • Union Pier Terminal
  • North Charleston Terminal
  • Wando Terminal
  • Veterans Terminal

A new terminal is being built on the former Naval Station to accommodate the growing needs of the port.


Map showing the major rivers of Charleston and the Charleston Harbor watershed.

The city proper consists of six distinct areas: the Peninsula/Downtown, West Ashley, Johns Island, James Island, Daniel Island, and the Cainhoy Peninsula.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 347.5 square kilometers (134.2 sq mi). 251.2 km2 (97.0 sq mi) of it is land and 44.3 km2 (17.1 sq mi) (15%) of it is water. The old city is located on a peninsula at the point where, as Charlestonians say, "The Ashley and the Cooper Rivers come together to form the Atlantic Ocean." The entire peninsula is very low, some of it is landfill material, and as such, it frequently floods during heavy rains, storm surges and unusually high tides. The city limits have expanded across the Ashley River from the peninsula encompassing the majority of West Ashley as well as James Island and some of Johns Island. The city limits also have expanded across the Cooper River encompassing Daniel Island and the Cainhoy area. North Charleston blocks any expansion up the peninsula, and Mount Pleasant occupies the land directly east of the Cooper River.

The tidal rivers (Wando, Cooper, Stono, and Ashley) are evidence of a submergent or drowned coastline. In other words, the original rivers had a lower base line, but as the ocean rose or the land sank, the landform was changed. There is a submerged river delta off the mouth of the harbor, and the rivers are deep, affording a good location for a port. The rising of the ocean may be due to melting of glacial ice during the end of the ice age.


Charleston has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with mild winters, hot, humid summers, and significant rainfall all year long. Summer is the wettest season; almost half of the annual rainfall occurs during the summer months in the form of thundershowers. Fall remains relatively warm through November. Winter is short and mild, and is characterized by occasional rain. Snow flurries seldom occur, although in 2010, 3.4 inches (8.6 cm) fell on the evening of February 12, the heaviest in 20 years. The highest temperature recorded (inside city limits at the Customs House on E. Bay St.) was 104 °F (40 °C), on June 2, 1985, and the lowest temperature recorded was 10 °F (−12 °C) on January 21, 1985.[24] Hurricanes are a major threat to the area during the summer and early fall, with several severe hurricanes hitting the area — most notably Hurricane Hugo in 1989 (a Category 4 storm).

Charleston was hit by a large tornado in 1761, which temporarily emptied the Ashley River, and sank five offshore warships.[25]

Monthly normal and record high and low temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec. high: °F (°C) 83 (28) 87 (31) 90 (32) 95 (35) 98 (37) 103 (39) 103 (39) 103 (39) 102 (39) 94 (34) 88 (31) 83 (28)
Norm. high: °F (°C) 60 (16) 62 (17) 69 (21) 76 (24) 83 (28) 88 (31) 90 (32) 89 (32) 85 (29) 77 (25) 70 (21) 62 (17)
Norm. low: °F (°C) 40 (4) 42 (6) 46 (8) 52 (11) 61 (16) 68 (20) 73 (23) 72 (22) 67 (19) 55 (13) 46 (8) 41 (5)
Rec. low: °F (°C) 10 (-12) 17 (-8) 22 (-6) 29 (-2) 44 (7) 53 (12) 65 (18) 56 (13) 42 (6) 36 (2) 27 (-3) 16 (-9)
Avg. precip.: in. (mm) 4.08 (103.6) 3.08 (78.2) 4 (101.6) 2.77 (70.4) 3.67 (93.2) 5.92 (150.4) 6.13 (155.7) 6.91 (175.5) 5.98 (151.9) 3.09 (78.5) 2.66 (67.6) 3.24 (82.3)

Metropolitan area

The Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of four counties: Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, and Colleton. As of 2006, it was estimated that the metropolitan area had a total population of about 603,178 people.[27] North Charleston is the second largest city in the metropolitan area of Charleston and ranks as the third largest city in the state; Mount Pleasant and Summerville are the next largest cities. These cities combined with other incorporated and unincorporated areas surrounding the city of Charleston form the Charleston-North Charleston Urban Area with a population of 423,410 as of 2000. This population is slightly larger than Columbia's urban area, making Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan urban area the largest in the state. The metropolitan area also includes a separate and much smaller urban area within Berkeley County, Moncks Corner (2000 pop.: 9,123).

The traditional parish system persisted until the Reconstruction, when counties were imposed. Nevertheless, traditional parishes still exist in various capacities, mainly as public service districts. The city of Charleston proper, which was originally defined by the limits of the Parish of St. Philip & St. Michael. It now also includes parts of St. James' Parish, St. George's Parish, St. Andrew's Parish, and St. John's Parish, although the last two are mostly still incorporated rural parishes.


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1790 16,359
1800 18,824 15.1%
1810 24,711 31.3%
1820 24,780 0.3%
1830 30,289 22.2%
1840 29,261 −3.4%
1850 42,985 46.9%
1860 40,522 −5.7%
1870 48,956 20.8%
1880 49,984 2.1%
1890 54,955 9.9%
1900 55,807 1.6%
1910 58,833 5.4%
1920 67,957 15.5%
1930 62,265 −8.4%
1940 71,275 14.5%
1950 70,174 −1.5%
1960 60,288 −14.1%
1970 66,945 11.0%
1980 69,779 4.2%
1990 80,414 15.2%
2000 96,650 20.2%
Est. 2008 121,569 25.8%

The racial/Ethnic makeup of Charleston is 65.2% White Americans, 31.6% Black Americans, 1.6% Asian Americans, and 2.4% Hispanics or Latino (who may be of any race)[28]


Charleston is well-known across the United States and beyond for its unique culture, which blends traditional southern American, English, French, and West African elements.


Charleston's unique but vanishing dialect has long been noted in the South and elsewhere, for the singular attributes it possesses. Alone among the various regional Southern accents, the Charleston accent traditionally has ingliding or monophthongal long mid vowels, raises /ay/ and /aw/ in certain environments, and is non-rhotic. Some attribute these unique features of Charleston's speech to its early settlement by the French Huguenots and Sephardic Jews, both of which played influential parts in Charleston's development and history. However, given Charleston's high concentration of African-Americans that spoke the Gullah language, the speech patterns were more influenced by the dialect of the Gullah African-American community.

Today, the Gullah language and dialect is still spoken among African-American locals. However, rapid development, especially on the surrounding sea islands, is slowly diminishing its prominence.

Two important works which shed light on Charleston's early dialect are "Charleston Provincialisms" and "The Huguenot Element in Charleston's Provincialisms," both written by Sylvester Primer. Further scholarship is needed on the influence of Sephardic Jews to the speech patterns of Charleston.


French Protestant (Huguenot) Church
The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist (Roman Catholic)

The city has long been noted for its numerous churches and denominations. It is the seat of both the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston and the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The city is home to one of two remaining Huguenot churches in America, the only one that is still a Protestant congregation.[29] The city is home to many well known churches, cathedrals, and synagogues. The churchtower spotted skyline is one of the reasons for the city's nickname, "The Holy City." Historically, Charleston was one of the most religiously tolerant cities in the New World. Recently, the conservative Episcopal diocese of South Carolina, headquartered in Charleston, has been one of the key players in potential schism of the Anglican Church. Charleston is home to the only African-American Seventh Day Baptist Church congregation in the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference of the United States and Canada. The First Baptist Church of Charleston (1682) is the oldest Baptist church in the South and the first Southern Baptist Church in existence. It is also used as a private K-12 school.

Charleston also has a large and historic Jewish population. The American branch of the Reform Jewish movement was founded in Charleston at Synagogue Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. It is the fourth oldest Jewish congregation in the continental United States (after New York, Newport and Savannah).

Annual cultural events and fairs

Museums, historical sites, and other attractions

Gibbes Art Gallery

Charleston boasts many historic buildings, art and historical museums, and other attractions. The following are among those which are open to the public:

  • The Exchange and Provost was built in 1767. The building features a dungeon which held various signers of the Declaration of Independence and hosted events for George Washington in 1791 and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788. It is operated as a museum by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
  • The Powder Magazine is a 1713 gunpowder magazine and museum. It is the oldest surviving public building in South Carolina.
  • The Gibbes Museum of Art opened in 1905 and houses a premier collection of principally American works with a Charleston or Southern connection.
  • The Fireproof Building houses the South Carolina Historical Society, a membership-based reference library open to the public.
  • The Nathaniel Russell House is an important Federal style house. It is owned by the Historic Charleston Foundation and open to the public as a house museum.
  • The Gov. William Aiken House, also known as the Aiken-Rhett House is a home built in 1820 for William Aiken, Jr.
  • The Charleston Museum was the first museum built in America, founded in 1773.
  • The Heyward-Washington House is a historic house museum owned and operated by the Charleston Museum. Furnished for the late 18th century, the house includes a collection of Charleston-made furniture.
  • The Joseph Manigault House is a historic house museum owned and operated by the Charleston Museum. The house was designed by Gabriel Manigault and is significant for its Adam style architecture.
  • The Market Hall and Sheds, also known simply as the Market, stretch several blocks behind 188 Meeting St. Market Hall was built in the 1830s and houses the Museum of the Confederacy. The Sheds house some permanent stores but are mainly occupied by open-air vendors.


Charleston is home to a number of professional, minor league, and amateur sports teams throughout the city and the metropolitan area:

  • The Charleston Outlaws RFC is a Rugby Union Football Club founded in 1973. The Club is in good standing with the Palmetto Rugby Union, USA Rugby South, and USARFU. The club competes for honors in Men's Division II against the Cape Fear, Columbia, Greenville, and Charlotte "B" clubs. The club also hosts a Rugby Sevens tournament during Memorial Day weekend.
  • The Lowcountry High Rollers, a flat-track roller derby team, practice at Hot Wheels on Folly Road. The Lowcountry High Rollers play Downtown at McAlister Field House at the Citadel. LCHR was founded in 2008.

Other notable sports venues in Charleston include Johnson Hagood Stadium (home of the the Citadel Bulldogs football team) and the Carolina First Center at the College of Charleston which seats 5,700 people for the school's basketball and volleyball teams.


Charleston is a popular filming location for movies and television, both in its own right and as a stand-in for southern and/or historic settings. For a list of both, see here. In addition, many novels, plays, and other works of fiction have been set in Charleston, including the following:

Nearby cities and towns

Other unincorporated areas


  • Mall Park
  • Martin Park
  • Mary Utsey Park
  • McMahon Playground
  • Mitchell Park
  • Moultrie Park
  • Parkshore Park
  • Sunrise Park
  • Waterfront Park
  • West Ashley Park
  • White Point Gardens or "Battery Park"

County Parks

The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) [2] operates several facilities within Charleston County.

Beach Parks:

  • Kiawah Beachwalker County Park, Kiawah Island, SC
  • Isle of Palms County Park, Isle of Palms, SC
  • Folly Beach County Park, Folly Beach, SC

Fishing Piers:

  • Folly Beach Fishing Pier, Folly Beach, SC
  • Mt. Pleasant Pier, Mt. Pleasant, SC

Marinas and Boat Landings:

  • Cooper River Marina
  • Multiple county-wide boat landings

Day Parks:

  • Palmetto Islands County Park, Mt. Pleasant, SC
  • Caw Caw Nature and History Interpretive Center, Ravenel, SC
  • Wannamaker County Park, North Charleston, SC
  • Mullet Hall Equestrian Center, Charleston, SC
  • James Island County Park, Charleston, SC

Water Parks:

  • Splash Island at Palmetto Islands County Park
  • Splash Zone at James Island County Park
  • Whirlin' Waters at Wannamaker County Park

Off-leash dog parks are offered at James Island, Palmetto Islands, and Wannamaker County Parks.

James Island County Park, approximately 11 minutes by car from downtown Charleston, features a 50-foot climbing wall and bouldering cave; cabin, RV, and tent camping facilities; rental facilties, fishing dock, challenge course, kayaking programs, summer camps, paved trails, and many special events such as the Lowcountry Cajun Festival (usually the first weekend in April), East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival (3rd weekend in April), Holiday Festival of Lights (mid-November through the first of the year), and the summer outdoor reggae concerts.

Schools, colleges, and universities

Because most of the city of Charleston is located in Charleston County, it is served by the Charleston County School District. Part of the city, however, is served by the Berkeley County School District in northern portions of the city, such as the Cainhoy Industrial District, Cainhoy Historical District, and Daniel Island.

Charleston is also served by a large number of private schools, including Porter-Gaud School, Ashley Hall, Palmetto Christian Academy, First Baptist, Trident Academy, Charleston Day, Trinity Montessori Christian School, Mason Preparatory School, Addlestone Hebrew Academy and Bishop England High School.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston Office of Education also operates out of the city and has several parochial schools and Bishop England High School, a diocesian high school within the city.

Public institutions of higher education in Charleston include the College of Charleston (the nation's thirteenth oldest university) and the Citadel (the state's military college). Charleston Southern University associated with the Southern Baptist Convention is a private institution of higher education in the area. The city is home to a law school, the Charleston School of Law, as well as a medical school, the Medical University of South Carolina. Charleston is also home to the Roper Hospital School of Practical Nursing and Trident Technical College, and branches of Webster University are also located in the city. Graduate degrees from South Carolina’s top public universities are available in Charleston through the Lowcountry Graduate Center. Charleston is also the location for the only college in the country that offers bachelors degrees in the building arts, The American College of the Building Arts. The newest school to come to Charleston is The Art Institute of Charleston located downtown on North Market Street.

Armed forces

Air Force

Charleston Air Force Base

Coast Guard

  • Coast Guard Sector Charleston
  • Maritime Law Enforcement Academy
  • Southeast Regional Fisheries Training Center
  • Electronics Systems Support Detachment (ESD) Charleston
  • Vessel Boarding and Search Team (VBST) Charleston
  • MOL Charleston (All-reserve boat unit)
  • USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716)
  • USCGC Gallatin (WHEC-721)
  • USCGC Oak (WLB-211)
  • USCGC Yellowfin (WPB-87319)


South Carolina Army National Guard


  • Naval Weapons Station Charleston
  • Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston
  • SPAWAR Charleston
  • Naval Nuclear Power Training Center

State military

South Carolina State Guard 3BDE HHC (Mount Pleasant) 5th/6th BN (North Charleston)

Marine Corps

  • C Company 4th Landing Support Battalion (Marine Corps Reserves)


Charleston is the nation's 99th largest Designated market area (DMA), with 307,610 households and 0.269% of the U.S. TV population.

Sister cities

Charleston has two sister cities, one international and one domestic:[31]

See also


  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Charleston Time Line". Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  4. ^ "Population of the 100 Largest Urban Places: 1840". 
  5. ^ "History of the Huguenot Society". 
  6. ^ "French Huguenot Church in South Carolina Tourism webpage". 
  7. ^ "Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim". 
  8. ^ "Brith Sholom Beth Israel". 
  9. ^ "Century V City of Charleston Population Estimates" (PDF). 
  10. ^ "Charleston best-mannered city",, January 17, 2004. Accessed May 9, 2007.
  11. ^ "A 'portion of the People'," Harvard Magazine, January — February 2003. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
  12. ^ "H. L. Hunley, Confederate Submarine," Department of the Navy – Naval Historical Center. Retrieved June 13, 2007.
  13. ^ "Investigation examining Charleston firefighters' handling of deadly blaze," KSLA News 12. Retrieved June 21, 2007.
  14. ^ "Fire department overview," City of Charleston Official Website. Retrieved June 20, 2007.
  15. ^ ""2005 FBI Crime Reports"". Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  16. ^ Michael Ledeen, "Hail to the Chief," National Review Online, August 18, 2005. Retrieved June 18, 2007.
  17. ^ "Charleston, South Carolina (SC) Detailed Profile — relocation, real estate, travel, jobs, hospitals, schools, crime, move, moving, houses news, sex offenders". Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ "CQ Press: City Crime Rankings 2008". Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ North American Container Traffic (2005), Port Ranking by TEUs as reported by the American Association of Port Authorities.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Charleston ranks #1 in Customer Service
  24. ^ Maximum and minimum temperatures from Yahoo! Weather
  25. ^ Lane, F.W. The Elements Rage (David & Charles 1966), p. 49
  26. ^ [1]
  27. ^ "Population Estimates for the 100 Most Populous Metropolitan Statistical Areas Based on July 1, 2006 Population Estimates".,178&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=us&client=firefox-a. Retrieved 2007-07-09. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Huguenot Links". The Huguenot Society of America. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  30. ^ Charles Towne Landing
  31. ^ Sister cities designated by Sister Cities International.

Further reading


  • Borick, Carl P. A Gallant Defense: The Siege of Charleston, 1780. U. of South Carolina Press, 2003. 332 pp.
  • Bull, Kinloch, Jr. The Oligarchs in Colonial and Revolutionary Charleston: Lieutenant Governor William Bull II and His Family. U. of South Carolina Press, 1991. 415 pp.
  • Clarke, Peter. A Free Church in a Free Society. The Ecclesiology of John England, Bishop of Charleston, 1820-1842, a Nineteenth Century Missionary Bishop in the Southern United States. Charleston, S.C.: Bagpipe, 1982. 561 pp.
  • Coker, P. C., III. Charleston's Maritime Heritage, 1670-1865: An Illustrated History. Charleston, S.C.: Coker-Craft, 1987. 314 pp.
  • Doyle, Don H. New Men, New Cities, New South: Atlanta, Nashville, Charleston, Mobile, 1860-1910. U. of North Carolina Press, 1990. 369 pp.
  • Fraser, Walter J., Jr. Charleston! Charleston! The History of a Southern City. U. of South Carolina, 1990. 542 pp. the standard scholarly history
  • Gillespie, Joanna Bowen. The Life and Times of Martha Laurens Ramsay, 1759-1811. U. of South Carolina Press, 2001. 315 pp.
  • Hagy, James William. This Happy Land: The Jews of Colonial and Antebellum Charleston. U. of Alabama Press, 1993. 450 pp.
  • Jaher, Frederic Cople. The Urban Establishment: Upper Strata in Boston, New York, Charleston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. U. of Illinois Press, 1982. 777 pp.
  • McInnis, Maurie D. The Politics of Taste in Antebellum Charleston. U. of North Carolina Press, 2005. 395 pp.
  • Pease, William H. and Pease, Jane H. The Web of Progress: Private Values and Public Styles in Boston and Charleston, 1828-1843. Oxford U. Press, 1985. 352 pp.
  • Pease, Jane H. and Pease, William H. A Family of Women: The Carolina Petigrus in Peace and War. U. of North Carolina Press, 1999. 328 pp.
  • Pease, Jane H. and Pease, William H. Ladies, Women, and Wenches: Choice and Constraint in Antebellum Charleston and Boston. U. of North Carolina Press, 1990. 218 pp.
  • Phelps, W. Chris. The Bombardment of Charleston, 1863-1865. Gretna, La.: Pelican, 2002. 175 pp.
  • Rosen, Robert N. Confederate Charleston: An Illustrated History of the City and the People during the Civil War. U. of South Carolina Press, 1994. 181 pp.
  • Rosen, Robert. A Short History of Charleston. University of South Carolina Press, (1997). ISBN 1-57003-197-5, scholarly survey
  • Spence, E. Lee. Spence's Guide to South Carolina: diving, 639 shipwrecks (1520-1813), saltwater sport fishing, recreational shrimping, crabbing, oystering, clamming, saltwater aquarium, 136 campgrounds, 281 boat landings (Nelson Southern Printing, Sullivan's Island, S.C.: Spence, ©1976) OCLC: 2846435
  • Spence, E. Lee. Treasures of the Confederate Coast: the "real Rhett Butler" & Other Revelations (Narwhal Press, Charleston/Miami, ©1995)[ISBN 1886391017] [ISBN 1886391009], OCLC: 32431590

Art, architecture, literature, science

  • Cothran, James R. Gardens of Historic Charleston. U. of South Carolina Press, 1995. 177 pp.
  • Greene, Harlan. Mr. Skylark: John Bennett and the Charleston Renaissance. U. of Georgia Press, 2001. 372 pp.
  • Hutchisson, James M. and Greene, Harlan, ed. Renaissance in Charleston: Art and Life in the Carolina Low Country, 1900-1940. U. of Georgia Press, 2003. 259 pp.
  • Hutchisson, James M. DuBose Heyward: A Charleston Gentleman and the World of Porgy and Bess. U. Press of Mississippi, 2000. 225 pp.
  • McNeil, Jim. Charleston's Navy Yard: A Picture History. Charleston, S.C.: Coker Craft, 1985. 217 pp.
  • O'Brien, Michael and Moltke-Hansen, David, ed. Intellectual Life in Antebellum Charleston. U. of Tennessee Press, 1986. 468 pp.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City's Architecture. U. of South Carolina Press, 1997. 717 pp.
  • Severens, Kenneth. Charleston: Antebellum Architecture and Civic Destiny. U. of Tennessee Press, 1988. 315 pp.
  • Stephens, Lester D. Science, Race, and Religion in the American South: John Bachman and the Charleston Circle of Naturalists, 1815-1895. U. of North Carolina Press, 2000. 338 pp.
  • Waddell, Gene. Charleston Architecture: 1670-1860. 2 vol. Charleston, S.C.: Wyrick, 2003. 992 pp.
  • Weyeneth, Robert R. Historic Preservation for a Living City: Historic Charleston Foundation, 1947-1997. (Historic Charleston Foundation Studies in History and Culture series.) U. of South Carolina Press, 2000. 256 pp.
  • Yuhl, Stephanie E. A Golden Haze of Memory: The Making of Historic Charleston. U. of North Carolina Press, 2005. 285 pp.
  • Zola, Gary Phillip. Isaac Harby of Charleston, 1788-1828: Jewish Reformer and Intellectual. U. of Alabama Press, 1994. 284 pp.
  • Susan Harbage Page and Juan Logan. "Prop Master at Charleston's Gibbes Museum of Art", Southern Spaces, 21 September 2009.


  • Bellows, Barbara L. Benevolence among Slaveholders: Assisting the Poor in Charleston, 1670-1860. Louisiana State U. Press, 1993. 217 pp.
  • Drago, Edmund L. Initiative, Paternalism, and Race Relations: Charleston's Avery Normal Institute. U. of Georgia Press, 1990. 402 pp.
  • Egerton, Douglas R. He Shall Go Out Free: The Lives of Denmark Vesey. Madison House, 1999. 248 pp. online review
  • Greene, Harlan; Hutchins, Harry S., Jr.; and Hutchins, Brian E. Slave Badges and the Slave-Hire System in Charleston, South Carolina, 1783-1865. McFarland, 2004. 194 pp.
  • Jenkins, Wilbert L. Seizing the New Day: African Americans in Post-Civil War Charleston. Indiana U. Press, 1998. 256 pp.
  • Johnson, Michael P. and Roark, James L. No Chariot Let Down: Charleston's Free People of Color on the Eve of the Civil War. U. of North Carolina Press, 1984. 174 pp.
  • Kennedy, Cynthia M. Braided Relations, Entwined Lives: The Women of Charleston's Urban Slave Society. Indiana U. Press, 2005. 311 pp.
  • Powers, Bernard E., Jr. Black Charlestonians: A Social History, 1822-1885. U. of Arkansas Press, 1994. 377 pp.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Charleston (South Carolina) article)

From Wikitravel

Charleston is a seaport city in the state of South Carolina in the United States of America. Its historic downtown is on a peninsula formed by two rivers, Ashley and Cooper, flowing into the Atlantic, and protected from the open ocean by surrounding islands. Charleston was captured in the Civil War without much property damage, so the historic part of town has buildings that are hundreds of years old. The current downtown skyline, with practically no tall buildings due to the city's height restriction ordinance, is dominated by church steeples and the stunning Arthur Ravenel cable-stay bridge completed in 2005 over the Cooper River. The city is a major port on the eastern seaboard of the US and a popular destination for domestic and international tourists.


Charles Towne, as it was first called, was established in 1670 by Anthony Ashley Cooper on the west bank of the Ashley River, Charles Towne Landing, a few miles northwest of the present downtown. By 1680, the settlement had grown and moved to its present peninsular location.

Around 1690, the English colonists erected a fortification wall around the small settlement to aid in its defense. The wall sheltered the area, in the present French Quarter, from Cumberland St. south to Water St., from Meeting St. east to East Bay St. The wall was destroyed around 1720. Cobblestone lanes and one building remain from this colonial English Walled Town: the Powder Magazine, where the town's supply of gunpowder was stored. Remnants of the colonial wall were found beneath the Old Exchange Building.

Luckily, Charleston was re-captured in the Civil War without much property damaged, and it was the first city in the U.S. to pass a historical preservation ordinance. Thus, many of the beautiful architecture, from early Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate to Victorian, remain for generations to see and enjoy.

Charleston is also known as The Holy City due to the numerous church steeples, which dot the city's low-rise skyline, and the fact that it was one of the few places in the original thirteen colonies to provide religious tolerance to the French Huguenots as well as to Jews.

Charleston is in general a laid-back, but sophisticated, city and has an old-South feel, just like its neighbor, Savannah. Most people in Charleston are helpful when approached in a polite manner. If a traveler speaks little English, Charlestonians are still generally willing to help as best they can. It is advisable, however, to at least learn a few key English phrases, and perhaps carry a traveler's phrasebook.


The dialect here varies from standard American English, having a "Southern Coastal Accent" that contains British influences. For those who learned Standard English, some speech may be difficult to comprehend here. Generally speaking, one can easily get by with Standard American or British English, though. The inhabitants of Charleston are, to a large degree, transient (due to several military installations, port labor, rail labor, and other factors), and therefore many other languages are inherent in a minority role.

A minority dialect spoken here is Gullah, a dialect of English almost incomprehensible to most English Speakers. If you are familiar with "Porgy and Bess", you are familiar with Gullah. Gullah has West-African influences mixed with pidjin French and English. The dialect originated around John's Island. If you travel south of the city (to the islands, or towards Ravenel), the dialect becomes somewhat more prevalent (although still in a minority context.)

Alternate languages include Spanish and Portuguese, brought to the city and it's outskirts by its large Latin American population. One may encounter "Spanglish" here, an odd combination of Spanish and English.

Place names in and around Charleston are often very Americanized versions of French (Lagare street is pronounced luh-GREE) or other languages.

Get in

By plane

Charleston is served by Charleston International Airport [1], located about 12 miles northwest of historic downtown. The small 2-concourse terminal is functional, with dark decor absent of any antebellum charm (unlike the lovely Savannah Airport terminal). Taxis to downtown cost about $25; shuttles arranged by Airport Ground Transportation cost about $14/person to downtown. CARTA operates a local bus service, Bus 11, to downtown hourly on weekdays. Rental cars are available at the airport terminal; Interstate 526 connects the airport with Interstate 26, which in turn terminates just north of historic downtown at U.S. 17.

By car

Charleston is located nearly at the midpoint of South Carolina's Atlantic coastline. It can be easily reached by car, from the north or south, via U.S. Highway 17, which cuts across the Charleston peninsula, or from the west, via Interstate 26, which terminates just northwest of the historic downtown at U.S. 17. The outer beltway Interstate 526 forms a loop from U.S. 17 to the Charleston International Airport.

Get around

Charleston is a city that is best explored by car or on foot. Several rental car services are available at the Charleston International Airport. Some area hotels also provide transportation to and from the airport.

By public transportation

The public transportation system in Charleston consists primarily of a fleet of buses run by the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA[2]) and privately run taxi services. The bus system is not widely used by the upper-class residents of the city, and would be rated as "fair" by the standards of most larger urban areas. Bus Route 11 serves the Charleston International Airport and the downtown area. CARTA also operates four Downtown Area SHuttles (DASH 210, 211, 212, 213), which are be useful for the visitor who does not wish to walk the historic downtown. Regular fares are $1.50.

Taxis are generally safe and inexpensive in Charleston. But they can be difficult to find unless they are prearranged by calling one of the taxi services in advance, or unless you are in the downtown area, where it is easy to flag one down.

By tour bus or carriage

Gray Line of Charleston[3] offers a choice of guided mini-bus tours of the historic, charming city of Charleston, designed to give you a fun and informative look into the city’s well-preserved past.

The best way to tour the city is by carriage drawn by horses or mules (many vendors available at the Market in downtown Charleston), although one might prepare oneself for some derisive comment and exasperation from locals inconvenienced by such quaint methods of transit.

By foot

Luckily for visitors to Charleston's peninsula, the historic district is accessible on foot. If staying in one of the many hotels on the peninsula of Charleston, a visitor could easily explore most of the city's major historical sites without benefit of a car, either by foot or also with the help of the four DASH trolley lines. Unfortunately, the plantations -- a significant part of Charleston's history -- are not located within walking distance of the peninsula. If driving into the historic downtown, the first thing to do is to find someplace to park. Garage parking is available at the Visitor Center for $1/hr.

The streets in the historic downtown in peninsular Charleston are more or less parallel and perpendicular to the Cooper River waterfront, forming a warp grid pattern, with a major shift in the angle of the grid at the east-west "fault line" of Beaufain/Hasell St., just north of the old Market Area near the waterfront. The major east-west street, Calhoun St., was once known as the Boundary Street, separating the then-suburbs north of it from the urban area south of it. The major north-south street, King St., is the main shopping street in downtown, from the Upper King area north of Calhoun around the Visitor Center south to the upscale anchor, Charleston Place, at Beaufain/Hasell. Several blocks south is a major east-west street, Broad St., which divides two areas in historic downtown, aptly named North of Broad and South of Broad. Those South of Broad were nicknamed SOBs, and those Slightly North of Broad were SNOBs. The French Quarter, founded by the French Huguenots, is just south of the Market Area along the waterfront. The area near the southern tip of the peninsula, where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet, is known as The Battery.

There are many walking tours, which give you the opportunity to see more than just driving past in a bus or carriage. There is a walking tour for virtually every interest. You will find Civil War tours, culinary tours, ghost tours, Gulla tours, architecture tours, art tour, and even pirate tours. Some of the walking tour companies offer tours with guides in period costume. Charleston Pirate Tours even has a costumed guide whose parrot, a blue and gold macaw, accompanies the tour.


A good place to start a tour of Charleston is the Visitor Reception and Transportation Center (tel: 1-800-774-0006), located at 375 Meeting St. (and Ann St.), not far from the terminus of I-26 northwest of downtown. At the Visitor Center, a travellor can find maps and guides, tour a small museum dedicated to the history of Charleston, book sightseeing tours, and view an introductory film to Charleston ($2).

Historic Attractions

Charleston's primary attraction to visitors is its historical setting and landmarks. A list of some sites to visit [4] includes:

  • The Battery and White Point Gardens. A park located at the southern tip of the Charleston peninsula with beautiful views, especially along the Battery Promenade by the Cooper River. Don't miss the elegant historic mansions along the Promenade, some of which have sold for as much as $7M.
  • Charleston Museum[5], 360 Meeting St., across the street from the Visitor Center. Start with this museum to learn of Charleston's history. Open daily. Adults $10.
  • Fort Sumter[6], the island site of the start of the Civil War, is a National Monument. One must board a ferry[7] for an additional fee at either Liberty Square in downtown or Patriot's Point in Mt. Pleasant. The ferry ride is about 30 minutes. Fort Sumter is in ruins, but there are markers telling you where things used to be, as well as a museum.
  • French Quarter[8] between S. Market and Tradd, Meeting and the waterfront, where the English colonial Walled Town once stood. Known for its art galleries, St. Philips Church, French Huguenot Church, and historic architecture.
  • The Market. An old shopping district at the foot of Market St. where vendors still sell wares. Contrary to popular legend, the Market was never a slave exchange. However, the remnants of an old slave market are located a few blocks away.
  • Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, [9]. Located right off the Ravenel bridge in Mt. Pleasant, this side of Charleston houses an impressive display of warfare including the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, the USS Clagamore submarine, the USS Laffey and USCG Ingham destroyer as well as a coast guard cutter. There are also an aircraft and a reconstructed Vietnam era camp.
  • Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, [10]. Off US 171 on the west bank of the Ashley River, about 3 miles northwest of downtown.
  • The Citadel, [11]. Historic military college founded in 1842. Full dress parades generally occur every Friday afternoon while school is in session and are free to the public. The campus is typically open to visitors and tours can be arranged by calling the school or stopping by the Admissions Office located in Bond Hall.
  • The College of Charleston, [12]. Founded in 1770, the College of Charleston is the oldest institution of higher education in the state of South Carolina and the thirteenth oldest in the United States.
  • Randolph Hall, at the College of Charleston, [13]. Built in 1828. Popular civil war movie-making site.
  • Longitude Lane (Longitude Lane), off E Bay St, [14]. Colonial cobblestone lane built on a latitude line.  edit

Historic Places of Worship

Charleston is known as the Holy City because it provided religious tolerance to many who fled persecution, including the French Huguenots, Church of England dissenters, and others. The first places of worship organized in the late 17th and early 18th century were located around the old walled town, the present French Quarter . As the town grew outward, later places of worship were mainly located towards the upper wards north of Boundary Street, the present Calhoun St. Colonial Charleston was the wealthiest English town in America, which is reflected in the sophisticated religious architecture [15] dotting the historic peninsula.

  • Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting St.[16] Congregationalists, Scotch and Irish Presbyterians, and French Huguenots of the original settlement of Charles Town founded this dissenting congregation, known as the Independent Church, around 1681. They met at the White Meeting House, for which Meeting Street is named.
  • French Huguenot Church, 44 Queen St. (at Church St.) [17] Organized around 1681 by Huguenot refugees from the Protestant persecutions in France; first church at present site built in 1687.
  • St. Philip's Episcopal Church, 146 Church St. [18]. Organized around 1681 at site now occupied by St. Michael's.
  • First Baptist Church, 61 Church St.[19] Organized around 1683; present site donated in 1699. Oldest Baptist church in the South, and often refered to as the "mother church of Southern Baptists".
  • First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, 53 Meeting St.[20] Organized in 1731.
  • Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, 90 Hasell St. (near the Old Market), [21]. Organized in 1749. The oldest surviving Reform synagogue in the world.
  • St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 71 Broad St, [22]. Organized in 1751.
  • St. Mary's Catholic Church, 89 Hasell St. Organized in 1789. Oldest Catholic church in the Carolinas.
  • Trinity United Methodist Church, 273 Meeting St. [23] Organized in 1791.
  • Second Presbyterian Church, 342 Meeting St. [24] Organized in 1809.
  • Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, 120 Broad St.[25] Organized in 1821.
  • St. Matthews Lutheran Church, 405 King St.[26] Organized in 1840.
  • Citadel Square Baptist Church, 328 Meeting St. (at Calhoun St.)[27] Organized in 1854.
  • Arthur Ravenel Bridge, . The longest cable-stay bridge in North America was completed in 2005 over the Cooper River.
  • Liberty Square, at the east end of Calhoun St. fronting the Cooper River. Has the South Carolina Aquarium and the Fort Sumter National Monument Visitor Center, both offers views of the Ravenel Bridge. This is also where you may take a boat tour to Fort Sumter.
  • Waterfront Park, from Vendue Range south to Water St. along the Cooper River. The Wharf at Vendue Range offers views of the cruise ship terminal and the Ravenel Bridge.

Soccer fans may want to take in a Charleston Battery match at Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island. It's a 5,000 seat stadium with a nice little English-styled pub.

Baseball can be seen at Riley Park where the Charleston Riverdogs, an affiliate of the New York Yankees, play ball.

  • Gray Line of Charleston, PO Box 219 , Charleston, SC, [28]. Gray Line of Charleston offers a choice of guided mini-bus tours of the historic, charming city of Charleston, designed to give you a fun and informative look into the city’s well-preserved past.  edit
  • Fireproof Building (South Carolina Historical Society), 100 Meeting Street, 843-723-3225, [29]. M-F 9AM-4PM. A National Historic Landmark constructed in 1827 and believed to be the oldest building of fireproof construction in the United States. The work of Robert Mills, the first native-born American to be trained as an architect, and a Charleston native who worked with other important early American architects such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Latrobe. Mills was responsible for the Washington Monument and many other public buildings. The building consists primarily of solid masonry in a simple Greek Doric style. An oval hall contains a cantilevered stone staircase lit by a cupola. The building serves as the headquarters for the South Carolina Historical Society, a private non-profit organization founded in 1856.  edit
  • Carriage Tours. , consider taking a carriage tour of the city. Several groups operate horse-drawn carriage tours of the historical sites in the city. Most of these tours leave from stands on Market street, next to the Market itself. While reservations are not required for these tours, they are run on a first-come-first-served basis, so plan to wait during peak tourist season. Luckily, most of the tour services assign a departure time, rather than making customers wait in line, so tourists waiting for a carriage can take the opportunity to visit the Market shops. Discount coupons are available in free tourist maps and guides.
  • Walking Tours. Equally fun walking tours include guided history tours and scary ghost tours through the streets of Charleston. Because the historic downtown is relatively compact, self-guided walking tours can be found in many guidebooks. An interesting DIY walk is to do the Charleston Museum Mile along the Meeting Street corridor, which includes historic sites, historic places of worship, and related points of interest; a brochure can be found at the Visitor Center.
  • Worship with the Locals. If visiting over the weekend, attend a service at one of the historic places of worship and find out what the locals think.
  • Beaches. Outside downtown, there are numerous beach towns that are considered part of the Charleston area. Folly Beach is certainly the most casual. Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms are more upscale. The warm waters and gentle surf make for a delightful swimming experience particularly during late spring and early fall when lower temperatures allow for a prolonged beach experience.
  • Others. For lovers of nature, Angel Oak [30] ,a magical and sprawling Live Oak purported to be over 1000 years old provides a great place for a picnic and a visit off the beaten path (John's Island). If you are looking for a laid back younger (surfer) crowd, check out events at the Daily Dose (see Eat).
  • Lowcountry Oyster Festival (January)
  • Southeastern Wildlife Exhibition (February)
  • Walking Garden and House Tours (mid-March to mid-April) Sponsored by the Garden Club and the Historic house group. Many related activities.
  • Spoleto Festival USA (Memorial Day to mid-June). One of the best arts festivals in the U.S., which is a counterpart to the festival held in Spoleto, Italy, founded by composer Gian Carlo Menotti.
  • Piccolo Spoleto Festival (Memorial Day to mid-June). The little brother to the Spoleto Festival USA.
  • Taste of Charleston (October).
  • Christmas in Charleston (December).


The Market and the shops lining Market street are a popular shopping destination for tourists. The Market itself is a large gathering of small vendors that sell everything from blankets to candy. More traditional shops line Market street, and most of these sell merchandise that is aimed at tourists.

Upscale shopping in downtown Charleston can be found at the shops lining King Street. These shops are known for selling high-quality merchandise, but are not known for bargain prices.

  • St. James Pumpkin Patch for Charity and Autumn Festival, 512 St. James Ave., Goose Creek, SC (Take I-26W from Charleston to the Ashely-Phosphate Road exit in North Charleston. Take a right onto Ashley-Phosphate to Rivers Avenue. Take a left onto Rivers Avenue/Hwy 52. Take Hwy 52 to Goose Creek. Take a left onto St. James Avenue. The Pumpkin Patch is on the right at 512 St. James Ave. in October.), 843-553-3117, [31]. 9AM-8PM daily. The St. James Pumpkin Patch for Charity and Autumn Festival is an annual event in Goose Creek. There is daily pumpkin sale for charity with festival events on the weekend. The patch is an autumn tradition with live music and food on Saturdays and family friendly events. Free admission.   edit


Charleston is considered the best restaurant town in the Southeast U.S., especially for seafood.

Enjoy the 'complete' tourist experience, and a very long wait, at Hyman's Seafood on South Market Street. Locals prefer Bowen's Island, near Folly Beach, or The Wreck, in Mount Pleasant.

  • Juanita Greenberg's Nacho Royale[32], 439 King St.
  • Melvin's Barbeque, Folly Rd.
  • Shuang Xi, McCall Center, 5070 International Blvd, North Charleston, (843) 747-3355. Excellent freshly cooked Chinese food. Eat in or take out.
  • Sticky Fingers[33], 235 Meeting St. Memphis styled BBQ chain restaurant.
  • Wild Wing[34], 36 N. Market St. Chain restaurant.

By far the most successful restauranteur in the Charleston area is the owner of the Mustard Seed (3 locations), Sette VI, Uno Mas, Long Point Grill, and Boulevard Dinner. The dining experience at each of the locations (owned by the same company) features homemade bread or chips while pondering the daily special board as well as the menu. Meals at range from $8-$22 but average about $12.

  • 39 Rue de Jean[35], 39 John St. Refined French cafe in Upper King. Lunch and dinner served daily.
  • Basil Thai Restaurant[36], 460 King St. Elegant Upper King alternative to lowcountry cuisine. First come, first serve; no reservations. Lunch, Mon-Fri only. Dinner nightly after 5PM.
  • Coast Bar & Grill[37] , 39-D John St. Good seafood in Upper King. Dinner nightly.
  • Cru Café[38], 18 Pinckney St. Small cafe in the Market Area serving upscale comfort food. Lunch and dinner, Tue-Sat; closed Sundays and Mondays.
  • FIG [39], 232 Meeting St. Local contemporary bistro in the Market Area. Dinner served after 6PM, Mon-Sat.
  • Gaulart & Maliclet French Cafe[40], 98 Broad St. (near King St.). Breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and take out). Closed Sundays.
  • Hank's Seafood Restaurant[41], 10 Hayne St. (and Church St.) Good seafood in the Market Area. Dinner nightly
  • Hyman's Seafood Restaurant[42], 215 Meeeting St. Excellent seafood, casual atmosphere, reasonable prices, very popular, near the Charleston Place. Lunch and dinner, daily.
  • Jestine's Kitchen, 251 Meeting Street. Offers some of the best lowcountry food for the money. Very popular. It has been featured in many national food publications. A must have is the "table wine" (sweet tea), fried okra, and a slice of homemade pie (choose from over 10 kinds).
  • La Fourchette, 432 King St. Small bistro with classic French cooking. Dinner only; closed Sundays.
  • The Barbadoes Room, 115 Meeting St. 843.577.2400 Has a stunning atmosphere and offers a great dinner date setting. Don't forget to come by after Church for their superb Sunday brunch.
  • Virginia's on King, 412 King St. (at Hutson St.), 843.735.5800, [43]. upscale lowcountry southern cuisine  edit
  • Charleston Grill, in the Charleston Place Hotel.
  • Magnolia's, 185 East Bay St. Southern Infusion Cuisine.
  • McCrady's, 2 Unity Alley, 843.577.0025, [44].  edit
  • Peninsula Grill, North Market Street.
  • Robert's of Charleston[45], 182 East Bay St. Fine dining and entertainment, for a special celebration.
  • Slightly North of Broad (SNOB)[46], East Bay street (slightly north of Broad Street). The restaurant serves traditional southern cuisine, and its menu selection varies with the seasons.

Greater Charleston

Be sure to head to Isle of Palms (South Carolina) to eat breakfast at the Sea Biscuit. The place is quaint and while the lines are long, the food is delicious. Be sure to try the Crab Cakes Benedict or Caprese Omelet. Also good for breakfast in Mt. Pleasant is Charleston's Cafe. Downtown features Hominy Grill (also on Rachel Ray's "$40 a Day" and Joseph's [47] . If you want a truly local experience for lunch stop by any of the Piggly Wiggly grocery locations and order a fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. Additionally, Workmen's Cafe [48] or JB's Smokeshack [49] are delightful for their Low Country cuisine as well as the friendly proprietors.

  • Daily Dose off Folly Rd. at 1622 Highland Ave(843) 795-1010. For natural and organic foods.
  • Earth Fare (2 Charleston locations), [50]. The local choice for fresh, natural, organic grocery goods. Whole Foods Market can also be found.
  • Sunflower Cafe, 2366 Ashley River Rd Charleston, SC 29414, (843) 571-1773, [51]. This sunny new addition to West Ashley’s dining scene has a long, bright future ahead. The food is incredible. Service is sweet and sincere $10-$20.  edit


Bars are not difficult to find in Charleston. For a cruise ship crowd and fruity, daiquiri-style drinks, try Wet Willies. Located on East Bay street, as well, is Tsunami, your place for an uptempo atmosphere and good sushi. For great live music try The Brick, which has a haunting bar from London and awesome staff on East Bay Street. For a more sedate atmosphere and great microbrewed beer with dinner, try the South End Brewery, also located on East Bay Street. Henry's on N. Market St. has a lively 40's crowd. The Blind Tiger (an old speakeasy from the Prohibition era) is a local's favorite, as is Burn's Alley Neighborhood Bar, which is tucked amongst all the college bars on King Street. The First Shot bar Courtyard (at the Mills House Hotel) and the Rooftop bar (at The Vendue Inn) are excellent places to enjoy a drink outdoors.

Mt Pleasant features Shem Creek and several bar and grills side by side. Red's Icehouse, RB's, and Vickery's are the most popular.

Charleston has two favorite liquors of choice FireFly Sweet Tea Vodka (produced from locally grown tea) and Grand Marnier (a French orange liquor).

All Downtown Bars & Clubs have to close by 2:00 AM and Charleston has an enforced open container law.


Charleston is serviced by many local hotels and virtually all of the major U.S. hotel chains.

  • Comfort Suites West of the Ashley, 2080 Savannah Hwy (Hwy 17 at I -526), 843-769-9850, [52]. checkin: 3:00PM; checkout: 11:00PM. The Charleston International aiport is just 6 miles away. Area beaches, universities, hospitals, restuarants and shopping are in close proximity. Included in your stay is a deluxe continental breakfast and unlimited use of Wi-Fi, indoor pool, fitness center and business center. This all suite property supports green practices and is 100% non smoking.  edit

Historic Downtown

Expect to pay a premium for a room on Charleston's downtown peninsula, especially in the historic hotels. A vehicle is not needed to explore historic downtown Charleston.

  • 1843 Battery Carriage House Inn, 20 S. Battery, 1-800-775-5575 (fax: +1 843 727-3130), [53]. The historic bed and breakfast mansion is on The Battery Park overlooking Charleston Harbor. The inn is a wonderful location for long weekend getaways in South Carolina.
  • Andrew Pinckney Inn, 40 Pinckney St., 1-800-505-8983, [54]. The Andrew Pinckney Inn is widely considered Charleston's favorite boutique inn and is located one block off of historic Market Street. Room rates include; wireless internet access, continental breakfast, afternoon cookies, and all day lemonade and teas.
  • Barksdale House Inn, 27 George Street, 1-888-577-4980, [55]. Wonderfully close to the College of Charleston and the King Street shopping district, this quiet, low-key bed and breakfast offers privacy and comfort to its guests. Call for last-minute rates, and you may get a substantial discount, but don't count on that during busy times.
  • Belvedere Bed and Breakfast, 40 Rutledge Avenue, 1-800-816-1664 (fax: +1 412-683-3934), [56].
  • Charleston Place Hotel, 205 Meeting St., 1-800-611-5545, [57]. The Charleston Place is downtown Charleston's finest full-service four-diamond hotel. The hotel offers the Michelin rated "Charleston Grill", the Spa at the Charleston Place, 24-hour room service, the Palmetto Cafe for breakfast and lunch, and the Thoroughbred Club. It is in the heart of downown Charleston.
  • Church Street Inn, 177 Church Street, Charleston, SC. Located at the corner of Church and Market Streets where Charleston's famed market area hums with activity, Church Street Inn and its plush rooms are elegantly designed in a style reminiscent of a time gone by. Charleston holds a magical place in history and the city's diverse character stems from three centuries of American-European-Caribbean traditions.
  • Francis Marion Hotel, 387 King Street, 843-722-0600, [58]. checkin: 4:00PM; checkout: 12:00PM. The Francis Marion Hotel, located near upper King St, was the largest and grandest in the Carolinas when it opened in 1924. Named for General Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox" of the American Revolution, the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston re-opened in 1996 after a $12 million National Trust award-winning restoration, and is once again Charleston's Grand Hotel. Classic Southern cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Swamp Fox Restaurant and Bar, cocktails and jazz piano in the Swamp Fox bar, and complete spa services at Spa Adagio. Grand hotel services: a doorman and bell service, concierge, valet parking, room service, wireless internet services, business center, newsstand and gift shop and a well equipped fitness center.  edit
  • French Quarter Inn, 166 Church St., 1-866-812-1900, [59]. The French Quarter Inn is a AAA 4 Diamond award winning hotel located on Market St. in the heart of the historic district. The superb location only serves as an accent to the hotel's luxurious accommodations and incredible amenities. 4 Diamond restaurant Tristan, [60], is on property and provides room service.
  • Hampton Inn Historic District, 345 Meeting St. (and John St.) [61] Located across the street from the Visitor Center and all of the DASH trolleys. Features antebellum decor in a restored warehouse. Complimentary hot breakfast and high speed wireless internet connection.
  • Harbourview Inn, 2 Vendue Range, 1-888-853-8439, [62]. This 4 Diamond inn overlooks historic Charleston Harbor and offers complimentary to guests cookies and milk every evening, a wine and cheese reception, over-sized accommodations with historical interiors.
  • King Charles Inn, 237 Meeting St., 1-866-546-4700, [63]. Located on Historic Meeting St. This 3 Diamond hotel features an outdoor heated pool, wireless internet access, manager's reception, fitness center, and an affordable gourmet buffet breakfast.
  • Mills House Hotel, 115 Meeting St., 1-800-874-9600, [64]. In the heart of downtown Charleston's historic district. This hotel has lots of history (it was saved from a fire by Robert E. Lee himself), the rooms are very comfortable, an attentive staff, and you never know which celebrity you might be riding in the elevator with.
  • Vendue Inn, Charleston, South Carolina, 19 Vendue Range,Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-577-7970 Fax: 843-577-7346 Toll Free: 800-845-7900, Email:, [65]. Daily Southern Breakfast, fireplaces, and marble whirlpool baths. Has two highly rated on-site restaurants and is pet friendly.  edit
  • Charleston's NotSo Hostel, 156 Spring Street, +1 843 722-8383, [66]. Dorms beds at $19-21 per night, private rooms at $55-60 per night depending on season.

Greater Charleston

If a vehicle is accessible during the trip, one may want want to hop across the rivers to West Ashley or Mount Pleasant where hotels are less expensive. Both West Ashley and Mount Pleasant are less than a five to ten minute drive to the downtown peninsula.

  • Seaside Inn, 1004 Ocean Blvd., Isle of Palms, 1-888-999-6516, [67]. This beachfront hotel on the Isle of Palms features a complimentary continental breakfast, wireless internet access, 2 large sundecks, outdoor pool, and beach access.
  • Shem Creek Inn, 1401 Shrimp Boat Lane, Mt. Pleasant, 1-800-523-4951, [68]. Breathtaking views of Shem Creek highlight this boutique hotel. Located within 4 miles of historic Charleston the Shem Creek Inn has a style and pace that is unmatched in the lowcountry. The hotel features an outdoor pool, complimentary continental breakfast, meeting rooms, restaurant, and wireless internet access. Sit back and watch life pass you by as the shrimp boats roll in.

North Charleston

Also less expensive are hotels in North Charleston, which is convenient for the Charleston Airport. the Coliseum, and the Convention Center.

  • Marriott Courtyard Charleston Coliseum, 2415 Mall Drive I-26 and Montague , North Charleston, South Carolina 29406, 843-747-9122, [69]. The Courtyard Charleston North is centrally located between Interstates 26 & 526, allowing for easy access to the Charleston Air Force Base and International Airport (CHS), which are located just three miles from the hotel. This North Charleston hotel is also located less than two miles from the Charleston Area Convention Center, Centre Pointe - home of Tanger Outlet Shopping Center, and ten minutes from the shopping, dining and entertainment attractions of historic downtown Charleston. Free WiFi, but only in the lobby & large business center.  edit
  • Staybridge Suites North Charleston, 2465 Prospect Dr. (North Charleston, SC 29418), 843-207-1115, [70]. The newly built Staybridge Suites North Charleston offers a superb array of amenities and residential-style accommodations with full kitchens. At our all-suite hotel, enjoy free hot breakfast, indoor swimming pool, complimentary wi-fi, plus rides to Charleston International Airport and downtown Charleston on our courtesy shuttle.  edit
  • Suburban Extended Stay Airport Hotel, 7582 Stafford Road, North Charleston, 843-414-6800 , [71]. The Suburban Extended Stay Airport is located off Interstate 26, just four miles from the Charleston International Airport. A new hotel that has rooms that cater to extended-stay guests with coffee-makers, refrigerators, microwaves and stovetops.

Get out

When departing Charleston, here are a few things to remember:

If you are driving, be aware of traffic cops. They are as sneaky as they are ruthless.

If a taxi to the airport is required, it must generally be arranged in advance. Expect at least a half-hour wait for a taxi to arrive. The hotel staff can help arrange for a taxi. Another option is to take a shuttle van from the airport - this may be cheaper. However, upon noting that one is leaving the city for the airport, transport will generally arrive with undue haste.

In the U.S., it is important to arrive at the airport at least one hour before the flight is scheduled to leave. This allows time for security screening.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CHARLESTON, the largest city of South Carolina, U.S.A., the county-seat of Charleston county, a port of entry, and an important South Atlantic seaport, on a narrow peninsula formed by the Cooper river on the E. and the Ashley on the W. and S.W., and within sight of the ocean about 7 m. distant. Pop. (1890) 54,955; (Igloo) 55,807, of whom 31,522 were of negro descent and 2592 were foreign-born; (estimated 1906) 56,317. It is served by the Atlantic Coast Line and the Southern railways, the Clyde Steamship Line to New York, Boston and Jacksonville, the Baltimore & Carolina Steamship Co. to Baltimore and Georgetown, and a branch of the North German Lloyd Steamship Co., which brings immigrants from Europe direct to the Southern states; there are freight boat lines to ports in the West Indies, Central America and other foreign countries.

The city extends over 3.76 sq. m. of surface, nowhere rising more than 8 or Jo ft. above the rivers, and has about 9 m. of water front. In the middle of the harbour, on a small island near its entrance, is the famous Fort Sumter; a little to the north-east, on Sullivan's Island, is the scarcely less historic Fort Moultrie, as well as extensive modern fortifications; on James Island, opposite, is Fort Johnson, now the United States Quarantine Station, and farther up, on the other islands, are Fort Ripley and Castle Pinckney (now the United States buoy station). Viewed from any of these forts, Charleston's spires and public buildings seem to rise out of the sea. The streets are shaded with the live oak and the linden, and are ornamented with the palmetto; and the quaint specimens of colonial architecture, numerous pillared porticoes, spacious verandas - both upper and lower - and flower gardens made beautiful with magnolias, palmettoes, azaleas, jessamines, camelias and roses, give the city a peculiarly picturesque character.

King Street, running north and south through the middle of the peninsula, and Market Street, crossing it about i m.from its lower end, are lined with stores, shops or stalls; on Broad Street are many of the office buildings and banks; the wholesale houses are for the most part on Meeting Street, the first thoroughfare east of King; nearly all of the wharves are on the east side; the finest residences are at the lower end of the peninsula on East Battery and South Battery, on Meeting Street below Broad, on Legare Street, on Broad Street and on Rutledge Avenue to the west of King. At the south-east corner of Broad and Meeting streets is Saint Michael's (built in 1752-1761), the oldest church edifice in the city, and a fine specimen of colonial ecclesiastical architecture; in its tower is an excellent chime of eight bells. Beneath the vestry room lie the remains of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and in the churchyard are the graves of John Rutledge, James Louis Petigru (1789-1863), and Robert Young Hayne. At the intersection of the same streets are also the massive United States post office building (Italian Renaissance in style), with walls of granite; the county court house, the city hall and Washington Square - in which stand a statue of William Pitt (one arm of which was broken off by a cannon shot during the British bombardment in 1780), and a monument to the memory of Henry Timrod (1829-1867), the poet. At the foot of Broad Street is the Colonial Exchange in which the South Carolina convention organized a new government during the War of Independence; and at the foot of Market Street is the large modern custom house of white marble, built in the Roman-Corinthian style. Saint Philip's church, with admirable architectural proportions, has a steeple nearly 200 ft. in height, from which a beacon light shines for the guidance of mariners far out at sea. In the west cemetery of this church are the tombs of John C. Calhoun, and of Robert James Turnbull (1775-1833), who was prominent locally as a nullifier and under the name of "Brutus" wrote ably on behalf of nullification, free trade and state's rights. The French Protestant Church, though small, is an attractive specimen of Gothic architecture; and the Unitarian, which is in the Perpendicular style and is modelled after the chapel of Edward VI. in Westminster, has a beautiful fan-tracery ceiling.

Of the few small city squares, gardens or parks, the White Point Garden at the lower end of the peninsula is most frequented; it is shaded with beautiful live oaks, is adorned with palmettoes and commands a fine view of the harbour. About 12 m. north of this on Meeting Street is Marion Square, with a tall graceful monument to the memory of John C. Calhoun on the south side, and the South Carolina Military Academy along the north border. The largest park in Charleston is Hampton Park, named in honour of General Wade Hampton. It is situated in the north-west part of the city and is beautifully laid out. The Isle of Palms, to the north of Sullivan's Island, has a large pavilion and a wide sandy beach with a fine surf for bathing, and is the most popular resort for visitors. The Magnolia Gardens are about 8 m. up the Ashley. Twenty-two miles beyond is the town of Summerville (pop. in 1900, 2420), a health resort in the pine lands, with one of the largest tea farms in the country. Magnolia Cemetery, the principal burial-place, is a short distance north of the city limits; in it are the graves of William Washington (1732-1810) and Hugh Swinton Legare. Charleston was the home of the Pinckneys, the Rutledges, the Gadsdens, the Laurenses, and, in a later generation, of W. G. Simms. A trace of the early social organization of the brilliant colonial town remains in the St Cecilia Society, first formed in 1737 as an amateur concert society.

Charleston has an excellent system of public schools. Foremost among the educational institutions is the college of Charleston, chartered in 1785 and again in 1791, and opened in 1790; it is supported by the city and by funds of its own, ranks high within the state, and has a large and well-equipped museum of natural history, probably founded as early as 1777 and transferred to the college in 1850. Here, too, are the Medical College of the state of South Carolina, which includes a department of pharmacy; the South Carolina Military Academy (opened in 1843), which is a branch of the University of South Carolina; the Porter Military Academy (Protestant Episcopal), the Confederate home school for young women, the Charleston University School, and the Avery Normal Institute (Congregationalist) for coloured students. In the Charleston library (about 25,000 volumes), founded in 1748, are important collections of rare books and manuscripts; the rooms of the South Carolina Historical Society are in the same building. The Charleston News and Courier, published first as the Courier in 180 3 and combined with the Daily News (1865) in 1873, is one of the most influential newspapers in the South. The charitable institutions of the city include the Roper hospital, the Charleston Orphan Asylum (founded in 1792), the William Euston home for the aged, and a home for the widows of Confederate soldiers.

In 1878 the United States government began the construction of jetties to remove the bar at the entrance to Charleston harbour, which was otherwise deep and spacious and well protected, and by means of these jetties the bar has been so far removed as to admit vessels drawing about 30 ft. of water. The result has been not only the promotion of the city's commerce, but the removal of the United States naval station and navy yard from Port Royal to what was formerly Chicora Park on the left bank of the Cooper river, a short distance above the city limits. The city's commerce consists largely in the export of cotton, 1 rice, fertilizers, fruits, lumber and naval stores; the value of its exports, $10,794,000 in 1897, decreased to $2,196,596 in 1907 ($3,164,089 in 1908), while that of the import trade ($1,255,483 in 1897) increased to $3,840,585 1n 1907 ($3,3 2 3, 8 44 in 1908). The principal industries are the preparation of fertilizers - largely from the extensive beds of phosphate rock along the banks of the Ashley river and from cotton-seed meal - cotton compressing, rice cleaning, canning oysters, fruits and vegetables, and the manufacture of cotton bagging, of lumber, of cooperage goods, clothing and carriages and wagons. Between 1880 and 1890 the industrial development of the city was very rapid, the manufactures in 1890 showing an increase of 229.6% over those of 1880; the increase between 1890 and 1900 was only 6.2%. In 1900 the total value of the city's manufactures, 16.3% (in value) of the product of the entire state, was $9,562,387, the value of the fertilizer product alone, much the most important, being $3,697,090.2 History. - The first English settlement in South Carolina, established at Albemarle Point on the west bank of the Ashley river in 1670, was named Charles Town in honour of Charles II. The location proving undesirable, a new Charles Town on the site of the present city was begun about 1672, and the seat of government was removed to it in 1680. The name Charles Town became Charlestown about 1719 and Charleston in 1783. Among the early settlers were English Churchmen, New England Congregationalists, Scotch and Irish Presbyterians, Dutch and German Lutherans, Huguenots (especially in 1680-1688) from France and Switzerland, and a few Quakers; later the French element of the population was augmented by settlers from Acadia (1755) and from San Domingo (1793). Although it soon became the largest and the wealthiest settlement south of Philadelphia, Charleston did not receive a charter until 1783, 1 At an early date cotton became an important article in Charleston's commerce; some was shipped so early as 1747. At the outbreak of the Civil War Charleston was one of the three most important cotton-shipping ports in the United States, being exceeded in importance only by New Orleans and New York.

2 The special census of 1905 dealt only with the factory product, that of 1905 ($6,007,094) showing an increase of 5.1% over that of 1900 ($5,713,315). In 1905 the (factory) fertilizer product of Charleston was $1,291,859, which represented more than 35% of the (factory) fertilizer product of the whole state.

and did not have even a township government. Local ordinances were passed by the provincial legislature and enforced partly by provincial officials and partly by the church wardens. It was, however, the political and social centre of the province, being not only the headquarters of the governor, council and colonial officials, but also the only place at which courts of justice were held until the complaints of the Up Country people led to the establishment of circuit courts in 1772. After the American War of Independence it continued to be the capital of South Carolina until 1790. The charter of 1783, though frequently amended and altered, is still in force. By an act of the state legislature passed in 1837 the terms "mayor" and "alderman" superseded the older terms "intendant" and "wardens." The city was the heart of the nullification movement of 1832-1833; and in St Andrew's Hall, in Broad Street, on the 20th of December 1860, a convention called by the state legislature passed an ordinance of secession from the Union.

Charleston has several times been attacked by naval forces and has suffered from many storms. Hurricane and epidemic together devastated the town both in 1699 and in 1854; the older and more thickly settled part of the town was burnt in 1740, and a hurricane did great damage in 1752. In 1706, during the War of the Spanish Succession, a combined fleet of Spanish and French under Captain Le Feboure was repulsed by the forces of Governor Nathaniel Johnson (d. 1713) and Colonel William Rhett (1666-1721). During the War of Independence Charleston withstood the attack of Sir Peter Parker and Sir Henry Clinton in 1776, and that of General Augustus Prevost in 1779, but shortly afterwards became the objective of a more formidable attack by Sir Henry Clinton, the commander-in-chief of the British forces in America. In the later years of the contest the British turned their attention to the reduction of the colonies in the south, and the prominent point and best base of operations in that section was the city of Charleston, which was occupied in the latter part of 1779 by an American force under General Benjamin Lincoln. In December of that year Sir Henry Clinton embarked from New York with 8000 British troops and proceeded to invest Charleston by land. He entrenched himself west of the city between the Cooper and Ashley rivers, which bound it north and south, and thus hemmed Lincoln in a cul-de-sac. The latter made the mistake of attempting to defend the city with an inferior force. Delays had occurred in the British operations and Clinton was not prepared to summon the Americans to surrender until the 10th of April 1780. Lincoln refused, and Clinton advanced hig trenches to the third parallel, rendering his enemy's works untenable. On the 12th of May Lincoln capitulated. About 2000 American Continentals were made prisoners, and an equal number of militia and armed citizens. This success was regarded by the British as an offset against the loss of Burgoyne's army in 1777, and Charleston at once became the base of active operations in the Carolinas, which Clinton left Cornwallis to conduct. Thenceforward Charleston was under military rule until evacuated by the British on the 14th of December 1782.

The bombardment and capture of Fort Sumter (garrisoned by Federal troops) by the South Carolinians, on the 12th and 13th of April 1861, marked the actual beginning of the American Civil War. From 1862 onwards Charleston was more or less under siege by the Federal naval and military forces until 1865. The Confederates repulsed a naval attack made by the Federals under Admiral S. F. Du Pont in April 1863, and a land attack under General Q. A. Gillmore in June of the same year. They were compelled to evacuate the city on the 17th of February 1865, after having burned a considerable amount of cotton and other supplies to prevent them from falling into the hands of the enemy. After the Civil War the wealth and the population steadily increased, in spite of the destruction wrought by the earthquake of 31st August 1886 (see Earthquake). In that catastrophe 27 persons were killed, many more were injured and died subsequently, 90% of the buildings were injured, and property to the value of more than $5,000,000 was destroyed. The South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition, held here from the 1st of December 1901 to the 1st of June 1902, called the attention of investors to the resources of the city and state, but was not successful financially, and Congress appropriated $160,000 to make good the deficit.

Much information concerning Charleston may be obtained in A. S. Salley's A Guide and Historical Sketch of Charleston (Charleston, 1903), and in Mrs St Julien Ravenel's Charleston; The Place and the People (New York, 1906). The best history of Charleston is William A. Courtenay's Charleston, S.C.: The Centennial of Incorporation (Charleston, 1884). There is also a good sketch by Yates Snowden in L. P. Powell's Historic Towns of the Southern States (New York, 1900). For the earthquake see the account by Carl McKinley in the Charleston Year-Book for 1886. See also South Carolina.

<< Charleston, Illinois

Charleston, West Virginia >>

Simple English

City of Charleston
—  City  —
Nickname(s): "The Holy City", "The Palmetto City", "Chucktown"
Motto: Aedes Mores Juraque Curat (She cares for her temples, customs, and rights)
Coordinates: 32°47′00″N 79°56′00″W / 32.7833333°N 79.9333333°W / 32.7833333; -79.9333333
Country United States
State South Carolina
Counties Charleston, Berkeley
 - Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
 - City 178.1 sq mi (376.5 km2)
 - Land 147.0 sq mi (361.2 km2)
 - Water 17.1 sq mi (44.3 km2)
Elevation 20 ft (4 m)
Population (2007)
 - City 118,492 (est.)
 Density 996.5/sq mi (384.7/km2)
 Metro 603,178
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 843
FIPS code 45-13330[1]
GNIS feature ID 1221516[2]

Charleston is a city in Berkeley and Charleston counties in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It is the biggest city and is the county seat of Charleston County. As of 2007, the population is about 118,492.


Cities and towns in the metro area

  • Town of Awendaw
  • City of Folly Beach
  • City of Hanahan
  • City of Isle of Palms
  • Town of James Island
  • Town of Mount Pleasant
  • City of North Charleston
  • Town of St. George
  • Town of Rockville
  • Town of Meggett
  • Town of Sullivan's Island
  • Town of Summerville
  • City of Goose Creek
  • Town of Moncks Corner
  • Town of Hollywood
  • Town of Jamestown
  • Town of Ridgeville
  • Town of McClellanville
  • Town of St. Stephen
  • Town of Bonneau

Other unincorporated areas

  • Johns Island
  • Wadmalaw Island
  • Morris Island
  • St. Stephen
  • Dewee's Island
  • Yonges Island

Neighborhoods in the City

There are many neighborhoods in the city of Charleston:

Peninsula / Downtown neighborhoods & districts

  • Ansonborough
  • Central Business District
  • Cannonborough
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial District
  • Eastside
  • Elliotborough
  • French Quarter

  • Four Mile-Hibernian
  • Harleston Village
  • Hampton Park Terrace
  • Mazyck-Wraggsborough
  • Medical District
  • North Central

  • Radcliffeborough
  • Rosemont
  • Silver Hill-Magnolia
  • South of Broad
  • Westside
  • Wagener Terrace

West Ashley neighborhoods

  • Air Harbor
  • Albemarle Point
  • Ardmore
  • Ashley Hall Manor
  • Ashley Hall Plantation
  • Ashley Harbor
  • Ashleyville
  • Avondale
  • Byrnes Downs
  • Canterbury Woods
  • Capri Isle
  • Carolina Bay
  • Charlestowne Estates
  • Castlewood Townhouses
  • Drayton on the Ashley
  • Forest Park
  • Grand Oaks Plantation

  • Harrison Acres
  • Heathwood
  • Hickory Farms
  • Hickory Hill
  • Hunt Club
  • Indigo Point
  • Lenevar
  • MacLaura Hall
  • Oak Forest
  • Old Towne Acres
  • Orleans Woods
  • Maryville
  • Melrose
  • Moreland
  • Northbridge Terrace
  • Orange Grove Estates
  • Orange Grove Shores

  • Parkshore
  • Ponderosa
  • Providence Commons
  • Saint Andrews
  • Shadowmoss Plantation
  • Schieveling Plantation
  • Sherwood Forest
  • South Windermere
  • Springfield
  • Stono Park
  • Sylvan Shores
  • The Crescent
  • Village Green
  • Wappoo Heights
  • Wespanee Plantation
  • Windermere

James Island neighborhoods

  • Bayview Farms
  • Charleston Country Club
  • Clearview
  • Harbor Point
  • Harbor Woods
  • Landsdowne
  • Lawton Bluff
  • Parrot Creek
  • Riverland Terrace

  • Stiles Point Plantation
  • Terrabrook
  • White House Plantation
  • Riverfront
  • Secessionville
  • Sol Legare
  • Westchester
  • Woodward Pointe

Johns Island neighborhoods

  • Gift Plantation
  • Grimball Gates
  • Headquarters Island
  • Headquarters Plantation
  • The Gardens at Whitney Lake
  • Twelve Oaks at Fenwick Hall Plantation
  • The Villages in St. Johns Woods
  • The Cottages at Johns Island
  • Winnsboro Lakes

Cainhoy Peninsula / Daniel Island neighborhoods

  • Barfield Park
  • Beresford Creek Landing
  • Beresford Hall
  • Cainhoy Historic District
  • Cainhoy Industrial District
  • Center Park
  • Cochran Park
  • Codner's Ferry Park

  • Downtown Daniel Island
  • Etiwan Park
  • Pierce Park
  • River Reach Pointe
  • Smythe Park
  • The Peninsula


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address