Charleston, South Carolina was founded in 1670 as ‘Charles Town’, honoring King Charles II Charleston was one of leading cities in the South from the colonial era to the Civil War in the 1860s. Due to exporting of rice and cotton, it became fifth-largest city in North American within ten years and a headquarters for wealthy merchants and landowners.
Charleston has many American “firsts” – the first golf club (Harleston Green established in 1786 the birthplace of golf), the first public college (College of Charleston 1770), the first museum (Charleston Museum 1773), the first theater playhouse (Dock Street Theatre, 1736), the first shots of the Civil War were fired here(1861).
Charleston’s plantations relied on slave labor and many collapsed after the end of slavery in 1865 – sadly it became the capital of American slavery. Situated on an island at the entrance to Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter is where the American Civil War started on April 12, 1861 and is only accessible by boat.
North America’s longest cable-stayed bridge, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, spans the Charleston Harbor, connecting historic Charleston and Mount Pleasant.
Many do not realize, Charleston was originally once part of Barbados, until the British landed and took control in 1670. Bridgetown, Barbados had almost the identical layout and architecture and Charleston streets were named after areas of Barbados.
Charleston’s most colorful street, Rainbow Row (located along East Bay Street and Elliot) was not painted in pastel colors because of the Caribbean influence. Even though much of the city was modeled after an island town in Barbados, Rainbow Row’s buildings weren’t painted in bright colors until the 20th Century. It was a local resident, Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge who decided one day in 1931, to paint her home bright pink and other homeowners followed. Haint Blue, which is seen on Charleston’s porch ceilings, is believed to ward off evil spirits.
Charleston boat tour offers fantastic views of the city and shoreline. You can get a view of the harbor and its waterways with guided narration. Of course you cannot got to Charleston without riding in a horse-drawn carriage.
The pineapple, a symbol of hospitality, is everywhere in Charleston – on porches, door knockers, post toppers. It’s most famously represented as a fountain in Waterfront Park. Directly behind the Pineapple Fountain, is the City Gallery and the French Quarter District, known for its galleries, historical inns, shops and restaurants with Broad, Meeting, East Bay, and South Market streets acting as perimeters.
The tradition of placing a pineapple on porches began in the 1600s to welcome captains coming home from sea.
Due to is abundance of places of worship, over 400 churches in total today, Charleston is believed to be called the “Holy City” .
Charleston’s hidden alleys, unaccessible by vehicles and often overlooked, are a flashback in time with quaint cobblestone, brick, and stone pathways: the Unitarian Church Graveyard(the most haunted), Bedon’s Alley, Longitude Lane, Philadelphia Alley, Price’s Alley, St. Michael’s Alley, Stoll’s Alley, Unity Alley and Horlbeck Alley. Walking tours, such as Lowcountry Walking Tours or Charleston’s Alleys and Hidden Passages Tour, are a great way to learn about the history and discover these hidden gems.
The Charleston Artwalk is held the first Friday from 5:00pm to 8:00pm of every month (except for January and July) at 35 various galleries around Charleston.