Charleston, South Carolina
|City of Charleston|
Clockwise from top-left: Rainbow Row, Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, cobblestone street, McLeod Plantation, battery, Fort Sumter
"The Holy City";
|Historic colony||Colony of South Carolina|
|Named for||Charles II of England|
|• Mayor||John Tecklenburg (D)|
|• City||127.5 sq mi (330.2 km2)|
|• Land||109.0 sq mi (282.3 km2)|
|• Water||18.5 sq mi (47.9 km2) 14.51%|
|Elevation||20 ft (6 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Rank||SC: 1st; US: 198th|
|• Density||1,152/sq mi (444.9/km2)|
|• Urban||548,404 (US: 76th)|
|• MSA (2019)||802,122 (US: 74th)|
|Time zone||UTC-05:00 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-04:00 (EDT)|
29401, 29403, 29405, 29407, 29409, 29412, 29414, 29424, 29425, 29455, 29492
|Area code||843 and 854|
|GNIS feature ID||1221516|
Charleston is the largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The city is the county seat of Charleston County, and the principal city in the Charleston–North Charleston–Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city lies just south of the geographical midpoint of South Carolina's coastline and is located on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean formed by the confluence of the Ashley, Cooper, and Wando rivers. Charleston had an estimated population of 137,566 in 2019. The estimated population of the Charleston metropolitan area, comprising Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester counties, was 802,122 residents as of July 1, 2019, the third-largest in the state and the 74th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States.
Charleston was founded in 1670 as Charles Town, honoring King Charles II of England. Its initial location at Albemarle Point on the west bank of the Ashley River (now Charles Towne Landing) was abandoned in 1680 for its present site, which became the fifth-largest city in North America within ten years. One of the key cities in the British colonization of the Americas, Charles Town played a major role in the slave trade, which laid the foundation for the city's size and wealth, and was dominated by a slavocracy of plantation owners and slave traders. Independent Charleston slave traders like Joseph Wragg were the first to break through the monopoly of the Royal African Company, pioneering the large-scale slave trade of the 18th century. Historians estimate that "nearly half of all Africans brought to America arrived in Charleston", most at Gadsden's Wharf. Despite its size, it remained unincorporated throughout the colonial period; its government was handled directly by a colonial legislature and a governor sent by London, England. Election districts were organized according to Anglican parishes, and some social services were managed by Anglican wardens and vestries. Charleston adopted its present spelling with its incorporation as a city in 1783 at the close of the Revolutionary War. Population growth in the interior of South Carolina influenced the removal of the state government to Columbia in 1788, but the port city remained among the ten largest cities in the United States through the 1840 census. The only major antebellum American city to have a majority-enslaved population, Charleston was controlled by an oligarchy of white planters and merchants who successfully forced the federal government to revise its 1828 and 1832 tariffs during the Nullification Crisis and launched the Civil War in 1861 by seizing the Arsenal, Castle Pinckney, and Fort Sumter from their federal garrisons. In 2018, the city formally apologized for its role in the American Slave trade after CNN noted that slavery "riddles the history" of Charleston.
Known for its strong tourism industry, in 2016 Travel + Leisure Magazine ranked Charleston as the best city in the world. The magazine has ranked Charleston the best city in the U.S. perpetually over the last few decades.
The city proper consists of six distinct districts.
- Downtown, or sometimes referred to as "The Peninsula", is Charleston's center city separated by the Ashley River to the west and the Cooper River to the east.
- West Ashley, residential area to the west of Downtown bordered by the Ashley River to the east and the Stono River to the west.
- Johns Island, far western limits of Charleston home to the Angel Oak, bordered by the Stono River to the east, Kiawah River to the south and Wadmalaw Island to the west.
- James Island, popular residential area between Downtown and the town of Folly Beach where the McLeod Plantation is located. James Island incorporated into its own town in 2012 on its fourth attempt.
- Cainhoy Peninsula, far eastern limits of Charleston bordered by the Wando River to the west and Nowell Creek to the east.
- Daniel Island, residential area to the north of downtown, east of the Cooper River and west of the Wando River.
The incorporated city fit into 4–5 square miles (10–13 km2) as late as the First World War, but has since greatly expanded, crossing the Ashley River and encompassing James Island and some of Johns Island. The city limits also have expanded across the Cooper River, encompassing Daniel Island and the Cainhoy area. The present city has a total area of 127.5 square miles (330.2 km2), of which 109.0 square miles (282.2 km2) is land and 18.5 square miles (47.9 km2) is covered by water. North Charleston blocks any expansion up the peninsula, and Mount Pleasant occupies the land directly east of the Cooper River.
Charleston Harbor runs about 7 miles (11 km) southeast to the Atlantic with an average width of about 2 miles (3.2 km), surrounded on all sides except its entrance. Sullivan's Island lies to the north of the entrance and Morris Island to the south. The entrance itself is about 1 mile (2 km) wide; it was originally only 18 feet (5 m) deep, but began to be enlarged in the 1870s. The tidal rivers (Wando, Cooper, Stono, and Ashley) are evidence of a submergent or drowned coastline. There is a submerged river delta off the mouth of the harbor and the Cooper River is deep.
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 from June to September in the form of thundershowers. Fall remains relatively warm through the middle of November. Winter is short and mild, and is characterized by occasional rain. Measurable snow (≥0.1 in or 0.25 cm) occurs only several times per decade at the most, however freezing rain is more common; a snowfall/freezing rain event on January 3, 2018, was the first such event in Charleston since December 26, 2010. However, 6.0 in (15 cm) fell at the airport on December 23, 1989, the largest single-day fall on record, contributing to a single-storm and seasonal record of 8.0 in (20 cm) snowfall.
The highest temperature recorded within city limits was 104 °F (40 °C) on June 2, 1985, and June 24, 1944; the lowest was 7 °F (−14 °C) on February 14, 1899. At the airport, where official records are kept, the historical range is 105 °F (41 °C) on August 1, 1999, down to 6 °F (−14 °C) on January 21, 1985. 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 on September 21, 1989 (a category 4 storm). The dewpoint from June to August ranges from 67.8 to 71.4 °F (19.9 to 21.9 °C).
|Climate data for Charleston Int'l, South Carolina (1981–2010 normals, extremes 1938–present)|
|Record high °F (°C)||83
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||75.3
|Average high °F (°C)||59.0
|Daily mean °F (°C)||48.3
|Average low °F (°C)||37.5
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||21.4
|Record low °F (°C)||6
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.71
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||trace||0.2
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||9.6||8.6||7.9||7.7||7.8||11.9||13.0||13.2||10.0||7.3||7.0||8.7||112.7|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||0.1||0.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.2||0.5|
|Average relative humidity (%)||69.8||67.4||68.1||67.5||72.5||75.1||76.6||78.9||78.2||74.1||72.7||71.6||72.7|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||179.3||186.7||243.9||275.1||294.8||279.5||287.8||256.7||219.7||224.5||189.5||171.3||2,808.8|
|Percent possible sunshine||56||61||66||71||69||65||66||62||59||64||60||55||63|
|Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961–1990)|
|Climate data for Charleston, South Carolina (Downtown), 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1893–present|
|Record high °F (°C)||82
|Mean maximum °F (°C)||71.3
|Average high °F (°C)||56.7
|Average low °F (°C)||42.8
|Mean minimum °F (°C)||27.5
|Record low °F (°C)||10
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||2.94
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||9.0||8.0||7.8||6.9||6.6||10.0||11.3||11.3||8.9||6.6||6.3||8.6||101.3|
Metropolitan Statistical Area
As defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, for use by the U.S. Census Bureau and other U.S. Government agencies for statistical purposes only, Charleston is included within the Charleston–North Charleston–Summerville metropolitan area and the Charleston-North Charleston urban area. The Charleston–North Charleston–Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of three counties: Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester. As of the 2013 U.S. Census, the metropolitan statistical area had a total population of 712,239 people. North Charleston is the second-largest city in the Charleston–North Charleston–Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area 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 along with the city of Charleston form the Charleston-North Charleston Urban Area with a population of 548,404 as of 2010[update]. The metropolitan statistical area also includes a separate and much smaller urban area within Berkeley County, Moncks Corner (with a 2000 population of 9,123).
The traditional parish system persisted until the Reconstruction Era, when counties were imposed. Nevertheless, traditional parishes still exist in various capacities, mainly as public service districts. When the city of Charleston was formed, it was defined by the limits of the Parish of St. Philip and St. Michael, 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.
Colonial era (1670–1786)
After Charles II was restored to the English throne in 1660, he granted the chartered Province of Carolina to eight of his loyal friends, known as the Lords Proprietors, on March 24, 1663. It took seven years before the group arranged for settlement expeditions. In 1670, Governor William Sayle brought over several shiploads of settlers from Bermuda, which lies due east of Charleston although closer to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, and Barbados in the eastern Caribbean. These settlers established Charles Town at Albemarle Point on the west bank of the Ashley River a few miles northwest of the present-day city center. Charles Town became English-speaking America's first comprehensively planned town with governance, settlement, and development to follow a visionary plan known as the Grand Model prepared for the Lords Proprietors by John Locke. Because the Carolina's Fundamental Constitutions was never ratified, however, Charles Town was never incorporated during the colonial period. The British Crown did not approve the one attempt to do so in the 1720s. Instead, local ordinances were passed by the provincial government, with day-to-day administration handled by the wardens and vestries of St Philip's and St Michael's Anglican parishes.
At the time of contact, the area was inhabited by the Cusabo Indians. The settlers declared war on them in October 1671. The Charlestonians initially allied with the Westo, a slaving northern tribe that had grown powerful trading for guns with the colonists in Virginia. The Westo had made enemies of nearly every other tribe in the region, however, and the English turned on them in 1679. Destroying the Westo by 1680, the settlers were able to use their improved relations with the Cusabo and other tribes to trade, recapture runaway slaves, and engage in slaving raids of Spanish-allied areas.
The Earl of Shaftesbury, one of the Lords Proprietors, proclaimed that it would soon become a "great port towne". Instead, the initial settlement quickly dwindled away and disappeared while another village—established by the settlers on Oyster Point at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers around 1672—thrived; this settlement formally replaced the original Charles Town in 1680. (The original site is now commemorated as Charles Towne Landing.) Not only was this location more defensible, but it also offered access to a fine natural harbor, which accommodated trade with the West Indies. The new town was the 5th-largest in North America by 1690. On Carolina's southern coast, transportation between the early communities by river and sea was so convenient that Charleston was the only court needed until the late 1750s, but difficulty in transport and communications with the north meant its settlers were effectively independent of Charles Town as late as the governorship of Philip Ludwell; even then, the north was controlled through an appointed deputy governor. On December 7, 1710, the Lords Proprietors decided to separate the Province of North Carolina from Charles Town's government, although they continued to own and control both regions.
A smallpox outbreak hit in 1698, followed by an earthquake in February 1699, whose ensuing fire destroyed about a third of the town. During rebuilding, a yellow fever outbreak killed about 15% of the remaining inhabitants. Charles Town suffered between 5 and 8 major yellow fever outbreaks over the first half of the 18th century. It developed a deserved reputation as one of the least healthy locations in British North America for whites, although mistaken observations over the period led some doctors to think that blacks had a natural immunity to the disease. Both black and white locals appear to have developed a general immunity to the disease by 1750, with future outbreaks (lasting until 1871) tending to kill only new arrivals, prompting its local name as "stranger's fever". Malaria – locally known as "country fever" since yellow fever was largely confined to Charles Town and the coast – was endemic. Although it did not have the high fatalities of yellow fever, it caused much illness and was also a major health problem through most of the city's history before dying out in the 1950s after use of pesticides.
Charles Town was fortified according to a plan developed in 1704 under Governor Nathaniel Johnson. The early settlement was often subject to attack from sea and land. Both Spain and France contested England's claims to the region. Native Americans and pirates both raided it, though the Yamasee War of the 1710s did not quite reach it.
On September 5–6, 1713 (Julian) a violent Hurricane passed over Charles Town. The Circular Congregational Church manse was damaged during the storm in which church records were lost. Much of Charles Town was flooded as " the Ashley and Cooper rivers became one". At least seventy lives were lost. The storm was more severe to the North of Charles Town. This storm created a new inlet of Currituck five miles south of the existing one which later became the accepted dividing line border between North Carolina and Virginia.
Charleston became a hotspot for pirates from the 1670s; the combination of a weak government and corruption made the city popular with pirates, who frequently visited and raided the city. The famous pirate Anne Bonny grew up in the city. Charles Town was besieged by the pirate "Blackbeard" for several days in May 1718; his pirates plundered merchant ships and seized the passengers and crew of the Crowley. Blackbeard released his hostages and left in exchange for a chest of medicine from Governor Robert Johnson.
Around 1719, the town's name began to be generally written Charlestown and, excepting those fronting the Cooper River, the old walls were largely removed over the next decade. Charlestown was a center for inland colonization of South Carolina, but remained the southernmost point of English settlement on the American mainland until the Province of Georgia was established in 1732. The first settlers primarily came from England and its colonies on Barbados and Bermuda. The latter planters brought African slaves with them who had been purchased in the islands. Early immigrants to the city included Protestant French, Scottish, Irish, and Germans, as well as hundreds of Jews, predominately Sephardi from England and the Netherlands. As late as 1830, Charleston's Jewish community was the largest and wealthiest in America. Because of the struggles of the English Reformation and particularly because the papacy long recognized James II's son as the rightful king of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Roman Catholics were prohibited from settling in South Carolina throughout the colonial period. (Catholic emancipation did not proceed in earnest until after the onset of the American Revolution.)
By 1708, however, the majority of the colony's population were black Africans. They had been brought to Charlestown on the Middle Passage, first as "servants" and then as slaves. In the early 1700s Charleston's largest slave trader Joseph Wragg pioneered the American large-scale slave trade; Wraggborough is named for him. Of the estimated 400,000 Africans transported to North America for sale as slaves, 40% are thought to have landed at Sullivan's Island off Charlestown, a "hellish Ellis Island of sorts", where they were held in a structure of 16 feet (4.9 m) by 30 feet (9.1 m) called the lazaretto or pest-house for a minimum of 10 days.:89 This structure was demolished at the end of the 18th century.:89 As there is no official monument, the writer Toni Morrison organized a privately funded commemorative bench. The Bakongo, Mbundu, Wolof, Mende, and Malinke peoples formed the largest groups of Africans brought through here. Free people of color also arrived from the West Indies, where wealthy whites took black consorts and color lines were (especially early on) looser among the working class. In 1767 Gadsden's Wharf was constructed at the city port on the Cooper River; it ultimately extended 840 feet and was able to accommodate six ships at a time. Many slaves were sold from here. Devoted to plantation agriculture, the state of South Carolina had a black majority from the colonial period until after the Great Migration of the early 20th century.
At the foundation of the town, the principal items of commerce were pine timber and pitch for ships and tobacco. The early economy developed around the deerskin trade, in which colonists used alliances with the Cherokee and Creek peoples to secure the raw material used for Europeans' buckskin pants, gloves, and bookbindings. Records show an average annual export of 54,000 skins for the years from 1699 to 1715. During the height of the trade from 1739 to 1761, 5,239,350 lb (2,376,530 kg) of deerskin were exported through Charlestown, representing between 0.5–1.25 million deer. To a lesser extent, beaver pelts were also exported. At the same time, Indians were used to enslave one another. From 1680 to 1720, approximately 40,000 native men, women, and children were sold through the port, principally to the West Indies but also to Boston and other cities in British North America. The Lowcountry planters did not keep Indian slaves, considering them too prone to escape or revolt, and instead used the proceeds of their sale to purchase black African slaves for their own plantations. The slaveraiding—and the European firearms it introduced—helped destabilize Spanish Florida and French Louisiana in the 1700s during the War of the Spanish Succession. But it also provoked the Yamasee War of the 1710s that nearly destroyed the colony, after which they largely abandoned the Indian slave trade.
The area's unsuitability for tobacco prompted the Lowcountry planters to experiment with other cash crops. The profitability of growing rice led the planters to pay premiums for slaves from the "Rice Coast" who knew its cultivation; their descendants make up the Gullah. Slaves imported from the Caribbean showed the planter George Lucas's daughter Eliza how to raise and use indigo for dyeing in 1747. Within three years, British subsidies and high demand had already made it a leading export.
Throughout this period, the slaves were sold aboard the arriving ships or at ad hoc gatherings in town's taverns. Runaways and minor rebellions prompted the 1739 Security Act requiring all white men to carry weapons at all times (even to church on Sundays), but before it had fully taken effect, the Cato or Stono Rebellion broke out. The white community had recently been decimated by a malaria outbreak and the rebels killed about 25 white people before being stopped by the colonial militia; the rebellion resulted in whites killing 35 to 50 black people.
The planters attributed the violence to recently imported Africans and agreed to a 10-year moratorium on slave importation through Charlestown, relying on the communities they already possessed. The 1740 Negro Act also tightened controls, requiring one white for every ten blacks on any plantation and banning slaves from assembling together, growing their own food, earning money, or learning to read. Drums were banned owing to Africans' use of them for signaling, although slaves continued to be permitted string and other instruments. When the moratorium expired and Charlestown reopened to the slave trade in 1750, the memory of the Stono Rebellion meant that traders avoided purchasing slaves from the Congo and Angola.
By the mid-18th century, Charlestown, described as "the Jerusalem of American slavery, its capital and center of faith",:89 was the hub of the Atlantic trade of England's southern colonies. Even with the decade-long moratorium, its customs processed around 40% of the African slaves brought to North America between 1700 and 1775. and about half up until the end of the African trade. From 1767, many were sold from the newly constructed Gadsden's Wharf, where six slave ships at a time could tie up. The plantations and the economy based on them made this the wealthiest city in British North America and the largest in population south of Philadelphia. In 1770, the city's 11,000 inhabitants—half slaves—made it the 4th-largest port after Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. The elite used this wealth to create cultural and social development. America's first theater building was constructed here in 1736; it was later replaced by today's Dock Street Theater. St Michael's was erected in 1753. Benevolent societies were formed by the Huguenots, free people of color,[b] Germans, and Jews. The Library Society was established in 1748 by well-born young men who wanted to share the financial cost to keep up with the scientific and philosophical issues of the day. This group also helped establish the town's college in 1770, the first in the colony. Until it was acquired by the state university system in 1970, the College of Charleston was the oldest municipally supported college in the United States.
American Revolution (1776–1783)
Delegates for the Continental Congress were elected in 1774, and South Carolina declared its independence from Britain on the steps of the Exchange. As part of the Southern theater of the American Revolution, the British attacked the town in force three times, generally assuming that the settlement had a large base of Loyalists who would rally to their cause once given some military support. The loyalty of the white southerners had largely been forfeited, however, by British legal cases (such as the 1772 Somerset case which marked the prohibition of slavery in England and Wales; a significant milestone in the Abolitionist struggle) and military tactics (such as Dunmore's Proclamation in 1775) that promised the emancipation of the planter's slaves; these efforts did however, unsurprisingly win the allegiance of thousands of Black Loyalists.
The Battle of Sullivan's Island saw the British fail to capture a partially constructed palmetto palisade from Col. Moultrie's militia regiment on June 28, 1776. The Liberty Flag used by Moultrie's men formed the basis of the later South Carolina flag, and the victory's anniversary continues to be commemorated as Carolina Day.
Making the capture of Charlestown their chief priority, the British sent Gen. Clinton, who began his siege of Charleston on April 1, 1780, with about 14,000 troops and 90 ships. Bombardment began on March 11. The rebels, led by Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, had about 5,500 men and inadequate fortifications to repel the forces against them. After the British cut his supply lines and lines of retreat at the battles of Monck's Corner and Lenud's Ferry, Lincoln's surrender on May 12 became the greatest American defeat of the war.
The British continued to hold Charlestown for over a year following their defeat at Yorktown in 1781, although they alienated local elites by refusing to restore full civil government. General Nathanael Greene had entered the state after Cornwallis's pyrrhic victory at Guilford Courthouse and kept the area under a kind of siege. General Alexander Leslie, commanding Charlestown, requested a truce in March 1782 to purchase food for his garrison and the town's inhabitants. Greene refused and formed a brigade under Mordecai Gist to oppose British forays. One such foray in August led to a British victory at the Combahee River, but Charlestown was finally evacuated in December 1782. Gen. Greene presented the leaders of the town with the Moultrie Flag.
From the summer of 1782, French planters fleeing the Haitian Revolution began arriving in the port with their slaves. The major outbreak of yellow fever that occurred in Philadelphia the next year probably spread there from an epidemic these refugees brought to Charleston, although it was not publicly reported at the time. Over the 19th century, the health officials and newspapers of the town came under repeated criticism from Northerners, fellow Southerners, and one another for covering up epidemics as long as possible in order to keep up the city's maritime traffic. The distrust and mortal risk meant that between July and October each year communication nearly shut down between the city and the surrounding countryside, which was less susceptible to yellow fever.
Antebellum era (1783–1861)
Although Columbia replaced it as the state capital in 1788, Charleston became even more prosperous as Eli Whitney's 1793 invention of the cotton gin sped the processing of the crop over 50 times. The development made short-staple cotton profitable and opened the upland Piedmont region to slave-based cotton plantations, previously restricted to the Sea Islands and Lowcountry. Britain's Industrial Revolution—initially built upon its textile industry—took up the extra production ravenously and cotton became Charleston's major export commodity in the 19th century. The Bank of South Carolina, the second-oldest building in the nation to be constructed as a bank, was established in 1798. Branches of the First and Second Bank of the United States were also located in Charleston in 1800 and 1817.
Throughout the Antebellum Period, Charleston continued to be the only major American city with a majority-slave population.[c] The city widespread use of slaves as workers was a frequent subject of writers and visitors: a merchant from Liverpool noted in 1834 that "almost all the working population are Negroes, all the servants, the carmen & porters, all the people who see at the stalls in Market, and most of the Journeymen in trades". American traders had been prohibited from equipping the Atlantic slave trade in 1794 and all importation of slaves was banned in 1808, but American ships long refused to permit British inspection, and smuggling remained common. Much more important was the domestic slave trade, which boomed as the Deep South was developed in new cotton plantations. As a result of the trade, there was a forced migration of more than one million slaves from the Upper South to the Lower South in the antebellum years. During the early 19th century, the first dedicated slave markets were founded in Charleston, mostly near Chalmers & State streets. Many domestic slavers used Charleston as a port in what was called the coastwise trade, traveling to such ports as Mobile and New Orleans.
Slave ownership was the primary marker of class and even the town's freedmen and free people of color typically kept slaves if they had the wealth to do so. Visitors commonly remarked on the sheer number of blacks in Charleston and their seeming freedom of movement, though in fact—mindful of the Stono Rebellion and the violent slave revolution that established Haiti—the whites closely regulated the behavior of both slaves and free people of color. Wages and hiring practices were fixed, identifying badges were sometimes required, and even work songs were sometimes censored. Punishment was handled out of sight by the city's Work House, whose fees provided the municipal government with thousands a year. In 1820, a state law mandated that each act of manumission (freeing a slave) required legislative approval, effectively halting the practice.
The effects of slavery were pronounced on white society as well. The high cost of 19th-century slaves and their high rate of return combined to institute an oligarchic society controlled by about ninety interrelated families, where 4% of the free population controlled half of the wealth, and the lower half of the free population—unable to compete with owned or rented slaves—held no wealth at all. The white middle class was minimal: Charlestonians generally disparaged hard work as the lot of slaves. All the slaveholders taken together held 82% of the city's wealth and almost all non-slaveholders were poor. Olmsted considered their civic elections "entirely contests of money and personal influence" and the oligarchs dominated civic planning: the lack of public parks and amenities was noted, as was the abundance of private gardens in the wealthy's walled estates.
In the 1810s, the town's churches intensified their discrimination against their black parishioners, culminating in Bethel Methodist's 1817 construction of a hearse house over its black burial ground. 4,376 black Methodists joined Morris Brown in establishing Hampstead Church, the African Methodist Episcopal church now known as Mother Emanuel. State and city laws prohibited black literacy, limited black worship to daylight hours, and required a majority of any church's parishioners be white. In June 1818, 140 black church members at Hampstead Church were arrested and eight of its leaders given fines and ten lashes; police raided the church again in 1820 and leaned on it in 1821.
In 1822, members of the church, led by Denmark Vesey, a lay preacher and carpenter who had bought his freedom after winning a lottery, planned an uprising and escape to Haiti—initially for Bastille Day—that failed when one slave revealed the plot to his master.[d] Over the next month, the city's intendant (mayor) James Hamilton Jr. organized a militia for regular patrols, initiated a secret and extrajudicial tribunal to investigate, and hanged 35 and exiled 35 or 37 slaves to Spanish Cuba for their involvement. In a sign of Charleston's antipathy to abolitionists, a white co-conspirator pled for leniency from the court on the grounds that his involvement had been motivated only by greed and not by any sympathy with the slaves' cause. Governor Thomas Bennett Jr. had pressed for more compassionate and Christian treatment of slaves but his own had been found involved Vesey's planned uprising. Hamilton was able to successfully campaign for more restrictions on both free and enslaved blacks: South Carolina required free black sailors to be imprisoned while their ships were in Charleston Harbor though international treaties eventually required the United States to quash the practice; free blacks were banned from returning to the state if they left for any reason; slaves were given a 9:15 pm curfew; the city razed Hampstead Church to the ground and erected a new arsenal. This structure later was the basis of the Citadel's first campus. The AME congregation built a new church but in 1834 the city banned it and all black worship services, following Nat Turner's 1831 rebellion in Virginia. The estimated 10% of slaves who came to America as Muslims never had a separate mosque. Slaveholders sometimes provided them with beef rations in place of pork in recognition of religious traditions.
In 1832, South Carolina passed an ordinance of nullification, a procedure by which a state could, in effect, repeal a federal law; it was directed against the most recent tariff acts. Soon, federal soldiers were dispensed to Charleston's forts, and five United States Coast Guard cutters were detached to Charleston Harbor "to take possession of any vessel arriving from a foreign port, and defend her against any attempt to dispossess the Customs Officers of her custody until all the requirements of law have been complied with." This federal action became known as the Charleston incident. The state's politicians worked on a compromise law in Washington to gradually reduce the tariffs.
On 27 April 1838, a massive fire broke out around 9:00 in the evening. It raged until noon the next day, damaging over 1,000 buildings, a loss estimated at $3 million at the time. In efforts to put the fire out, all the water in the city pumps was used up. The fire ruined businesses, several churches, a new theater, and the entire market except for the fish section. Most famously, Charleston's Trinity Church was burned. Another important building that fell victim was the new hotel that had been recently built. Many houses were burnt to the ground. The damaged buildings amounted to about one-fourth of all the businesses in the main part of the city. The fire rendered penniless many who were wealthy. Several prominent store owners died attempting to save their establishments. When the many homes and business were rebuilt or repaired, a great cultural awakening occurred. In many ways, the fire helped put Charleston on the map as a great cultural and architectural center. Previous to the fire, only a few homes were styled as Greek Revival; many residents decided to construct new buildings in that style after the conflagration. This tradition continued and made Charleston one of the foremost places to view Greek Revival architecture. The Gothic Revival also made a significant appearance in the construction of many churches after the fire that exhibited picturesque forms and reminders of devout European religion.
By 1840, the Market Hall and Sheds, where fresh meat and produce were brought daily, became a hub of commercial activity. The slave trade also depended on the port of Charleston, where ships could be unloaded and the slaves bought and sold. The legal importation of African slaves had ended in 1808, although smuggling was significant. However, the domestic trade was booming. More than one million slaves were transported from the Upper South to the Deep South in the antebellum years, as cotton plantations were widely developed through what became known as the Black Belt. Many slaves were transported in the coastwise slave trade, with slave ships stopping at ports such as Charleston.
Civil War (1861–1865)
Charleston played a major part in the Civil War. As a pivotal city, both the Union and Confederate Armies vied for power over the Holy City. It is no surprise that the war ended only mere months after the Union forces took control of Charleston. Not only did the Civil War end not long after Charleston's surrender, but the Civil War began here as well.
Following the election of Abraham Lincoln, the South Carolina General Assembly voted on December 20, 1860, to secede from the Union. South Carolina was the first state to secede. On December 27, Castle Pinckney was surrendered by its garrison to the state militia and, on January 9, 1861, Citadel cadets opened fire on the USS Star of the West as it entered Charleston Harbor.
The first full battle of the American Civil War occurred on April 12, 1861, when shore batteries under the command of General Beauregard opened fire on the US Army-held Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. After a 34-hour bombardment, Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort.
On December 11, 1861, an enormous fire burned over 500 acres (200 ha) of the city.
Union control of the sea permitted the repeated bombardment of the city, causing vast damage. Although Admiral Du Pont's naval assault on the town's forts in April 1863 failed, the Union navy's blockade shut down most commercial traffic. Over the course of the war, some blockade runners got through but not a single one made it into or out of the Charleston Harbor between August 1863 and March 1864. The early submarine H.L. Hunley made a night attack on the USS Housatonic on February 17, 1864.
General Gillmore's land assault in July 1864 was unsuccessful but the fall of Columbia and advance of General William T. Sherman's army through the state prompted the Confederates to evacuate the town on February 17, 1865, burning the public buildings, cotton warehouses, and other sources of supply before their departure. Union troops moved into the city within the month. The War Department recovered what federal property remained and also confiscated the campus of the Citadel Military Academy and used it as a federal garrison for the next 17 years. The facilities were finally returned to the state and reopened as a military college in 1882 under the direction of Lawrence E. Marichak.
After the defeat of the Confederacy, federal forces remained in Charleston during Reconstruction. The war had shattered the city's prosperity, but the African-American population surged (from 17,000 in 1860 to over 27,000 in 1880) as freedmen moved from the countryside to the major city. Blacks quickly left the Southern Baptist Church and resumed open meetings of the African Methodist Episcopal and AME Zion churches. They purchased dogs, guns, liquor, and better clothes—all previously banned—and ceased yielding the sidewalks to whites. Despite the efforts of the state legislature to halt manumissions, Charleston had already had a large class of free people of color as well. At the onset of the war, the city had 3,785 free people of color, many of mixed race, making up about 18% of the city's black population and 8% of its total population. Many were educated and practiced skilled crafts; they quickly became leaders of South Carolina's Republican Party and its legislators. Men who had been free people of color before the war comprised 26% of those elected to state and federal office in South Carolina from 1868 to 1876.
By the late 1870s, industry was bringing the city and its inhabitants back to a renewed vitality; new jobs attracted new residents. As the city's commerce improved, residents worked to restore or create community institutions. In 1865, the Avery Normal Institute was established by the American Missionary Association as the first free secondary school for Charleston's African American population. Gen. 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 university-preparatory school, Porter-Gaud School.
In 1875, blacks made up 57% of the city's and 73% of the county's population. With leadership by members of the antebellum free black community, historian Melinda Meeks Hennessy described the community as "unique" in being able to defend themselves without provoking "massive white retaliation", as occurred in numerous other areas during Reconstruction. In the 1876 election cycle, two major riots between black Republicans and white Democrats occurred in the city, in September and the day after the election in November, as well as a violent incident in Cainhoy at an October joint discussion meeting.
Violent incidents occurred throughout the Piedmont of the state as white insurgents struggled to maintain white supremacy in the face of social changes after the war and granting of citizenship to freedmen by federal constitutional amendments. After former Confederates were allowed to vote again, election campaigns from 1872 on were marked by violent intimidation of blacks and Republicans by conservative Democratic paramilitary groups, known as the Red Shirts. Violent incidents took place in Charleston on King Street in September 6 and in nearby Cainhoy on October 15, both in association with political meetings before the 1876 election. The Cainhoy incident was the only one statewide in which more whites were killed than blacks. The Red Shirts were instrumental in suppressing the black Republican vote in some areas in 1876 and narrowly electing Wade Hampton as governor, and taking back control of the state legislature. Another riot occurred in Charleston the day after the election, when a prominent Republican leader was mistakenly reported killed.
In the early 20th century strong political machines emerged in the city reflecting economic, class, racial, and ethnic tensions. The factions nearly all opposed U.S. Senator Ben Tillman who repeatedly attacked and ridiculed the city in the name of upstate poor farmers. Well organized factions within the Democratic Party in Charleston gave the voters clear choices and played a large role in state politics.
On August 31, 1886, Charleston was nearly destroyed by an earthquake. The shock was estimated to have a moment magnitude of 7.0 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). 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 ($152 million in 2018 dollars), at a time when all the city's buildings were valued around $24 million ($609 million in 2018 dollars).
Investment in the city continued. The William Enston Home, a planned community for the city's aged and infirm, was built in 1889. An elaborate public building, the United States Post Office and Courthouse, was completed by the federal government in 1896 in the heart of the city. The Democrat-dominated state legislature passed a new constitution in 1895 that disfranchised blacks, effectively excluding them entirely from the political process, a second-class status that was maintained for more than six decades in a state that was majority-black until about 1930.
Contemporary era (1945–present)
Charleston languished economically for several decades in the 20th century, though the large federal military presence in the region helped to shore up the city's economy.
The Charleston Hospital Strike of 1969, in which mostly black workers protested discrimination and low wages, was one of the last major events of the civil rights movement. It attracted Ralph Abernathy, Coretta Scott King, Andrew Young, and other prominent figures to march with the local leader, Mary Moultrie. Its story is recounted in Tom Dent's book Southern Journey (1996).
Joseph P. Riley Jr. was elected mayor in the 1970s, and helped advance several cultural aspects of the city. Riley worked to revive Charleston's economic and cultural heritage. The last 30 years of the 20th century had major new investments in the city, with a number of municipal improvements and a commitment to historic preservation to restore the city's unique fabric. There was an effort to preserve working-class housing of African Americans on the historic peninsula, but the neighborhood has gentrified, with rising prices and rents. From 1980 to 2010, the peninsula's population has shifted from two-thirds black to two-thirds white; in 2010 residents numbered 20,668 whites to 10,455 blacks. Many African Americans have moved to the less-expensive suburbs in these decades.
The city's commitments to investment were not slowed down by Hurricane Hugo and continue to this day. The eye of Hurricane Hugo came ashore at Charleston Harbor in 1989, and though the worst damage was in nearby McClellanville, three-quarters of the homes in Charleston's historic district sustained damage of varying degrees. The hurricane caused over $2.8 billion in damage. The city was able to rebound fairly quickly after the hurricane and has grown in population, reaching an estimated 124,593 residents in 2009.
In 1993, the city was further impacted economically by the end of the Cold War when a decision of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) directed that Naval Base Charleston be closed and that its surface ships and nuclear-powered submarines be relocated to other homeports, primarily Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia and Naval Station Mayport, Florida. Pursuant to BRAC action, Naval Base Charleston was closed on April 1, 1996, although some activities remain under the cognizance of Naval Support Activity Charleston, now part of Joint Base Charleston.
On June 17, 2015, 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof entered the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and sat in on part of a Bible study before shooting and killing nine people, all African Americans. Senior pastor Clementa Pinckney, who also served as a state senator, was among those killed during the attack. The deceased also included congregation members Susie Jackson, 87; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; Ethel Lance, 70; Myra Thompson, 59; Cynthia Hurd, 54; Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, 49; Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; and Tywanza Sanders, 26. The attack garnered national attention, and sparked a debate on historical racism, Confederate symbolism in Southern states, and gun violence, in part based on Roof's online postings. A memorial service on the campus of the College of Charleston was attended by President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Jill Biden, and Speaker of the House John Boehner.
Condemnation of role in the slave trade
On June 17, 2018, the Charleston City Council apologized for its role in the slave trade and condemned its "inhumane" history. It also acknowledged wrongs committed against African Americans by slavery and Jim Crow laws.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
In 2010, the racial makeup of Charleston was 70.2% White, 25.4% African American, 1.6% Asian, and 1.5% of two or more races; in addition, 2.9% of the population was Hispanic or Latino, of any race.
Given Charleston's high concentration of African Americans who spoke the Gullah language, a creole language that developed on the Sea Islands and in the Low Country, the local speech patterns were also influenced by this community. Today, Gullah is still spoken by many African American residents. However, rapid development since 1980, especially on the surrounding Sea Islands, has attracted residents from outside the area and led to a decline in Gullah's prominence.
The traditional educated Charleston accent has long been noted in the state and throughout the South. It is typically heard in wealthy white older people who trace their families back generations in the city. It has ingliding or monophthongal long mid-vowels, raises ay and aw in certain environments, and is nonrhotic. Sylvester Primer of the College of Charleston wrote about aspects of the local dialect in his late 19th-century works: "Charleston Provincialisms" (1887)  and "The Huguenot Element in Charleston's Provincialisms", published in a German journal. He believed the accent was based on the English as it was spoken by the earliest settlers, therefore derived from Elizabethan England and preserved with modifications by Charleston speakers. The disappearing "Charleston accent" spoken mainly by older natives is still noted in the local pronunciation of the city's name. Many Charleston natives ignore the 'r' and elongate the first vowel, pronouncing the name as "Chah-l-ston".
Charleston is known as "The Holy City." Despite beliefs that the term dates to the city's earliest days and refers to its religiously tolerant culture, the term was coined in the 20th century, likely as a mockery of Charlestonians' self-satisfied attitude about their city. Regardless of the nickname's origination, residents have embraced the term and explained it in more flattering terms.
The Anglican church was dominant in the colonial era, and the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul is today the seat of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. Many French Huguenot refugees settled in Charleston in the early 18th century. The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the Southern United States and houses the oldest black congregation south of Baltimore, Maryland.
South Carolina has long allowed Jews to practice their faith without restriction. Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, founded in 1749 by Sephardic Jews from London, is the fourth-oldest Jewish congregation in the continental United States and was an important site for the development of Reform Judaism. Brith Sholom Beth Israel is the oldest Orthodox synagogue in the South, founded by Sam Berlin and other Ashkenazi German and Central European Jews in the mid-19th century.
The city's oldest Roman Catholic parish, Saint Mary of the Annunciation Roman Catholic Church, is the mother church of Roman Catholicism in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. In 1820, Charleston was established as the see city of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, which at the time comprised the Carolinas and Georgia, and presently encompasses the state of South Carolina.
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Charleston's culture blends traditional Southern U.S., English, French, and West African elements. The downtown peninsula has a number of art, music, local cuisine, and fashion venues. Spoleto Festival USA, held annually in late spring, was founded in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who sought to establish a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi (the Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto, Italy.
Charleston's oldest community theater group, the Footlight Players, has provided theatrical productions since 1931. A variety of performing arts venues includes the historic Dock Street Theatre. The annual Charleston Fashion Week held each spring in Marion Square brings in designers, journalists, and clients from across the nation. Charleston is known for its local seafood, which plays a key role in the city's renowned cuisine, comprising staple dishes such as gumbo, she-crab soup, fried oysters, Lowcountry boil, deviled crab cakes, red rice, and shrimp and grits. Rice is the staple in many dishes, reflecting the rice culture of the Low Country. The cuisine in Charleston is also strongly influenced by British and French elements.
Annual cultural events and fairs
Charleston annually hosts Spoleto Festival USA founded by Gian Carlo Menotti, a 17-day art festival featuring over 100 performances by individual artists in a variety of disciplines. The Spoleto Festival is internationally recognized as America's premier performing arts festival. The annual Piccolo Spoleto festival takes place at the same time and features local performers and artists, with hundreds of performances throughout the city. Other festivals and events include Historic Charleston Foundation's Festival of Houses and Gardens and Charleston Antiques Show, the Taste of Charleston, The Lowcountry Oyster Festival, the Cooper River Bridge Run, The Charleston Marathon, Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE), Charleston Food and Wine Festival, Charleston Fashion Week, the MOJA Arts Festival, and the Holiday Festival of Lights (at James Island County Park), and the Charleston International Film Festival. The Charleston Conference is a major library industry event, held in the city center since 1980.
As it has on every aspect of Charleston culture, the Gullah community has had a tremendous influence on music in Charleston, especially when it comes to the early development of jazz music. In turn, the music of Charleston has had an influence on that of the rest of the country. The geechee dances that accompanied the music of the dock workers in Charleston followed a rhythm that inspired Eubie Blake's "Charleston Rag" and later James P. Johnson's "Charleston", as well as the dance craze that defined a nation in the 1920s. "Ballin' the Jack", which was a popular dance in the years before "Charleston", was written by native Charlestonian Chris Smith.
The Jenkins Orphanage was established in 1891 by the Rev. Daniel J. Jenkins in Charleston. The orphanage accepted donations of musical instruments and Rev. Jenkins hired local Charleston musicians and Avery Institute Graduates to tutor the boys in music. As a result, Charleston musicians became proficient on a variety of instruments and were able to read music expertly. These traits set Jenkins musicians apart and helped land some of them positions in big bands with Duke Ellington and Count Basie. William "Cat" Anderson, Jabbo Smith, and Freddie Green are but a few of the alumni from the Jenkins Orphanage band who became professional musicians in some of the best bands of the day. Orphanages around the country began to develop brass bands in the wake of the Jenkins Orphanage Band's success. At the Colored Waif's Home Brass Band in New Orleans, for example, a young trumpeter named Louis Armstrong first began to draw attention.
As many as five bands were on tour during the 1920s. The Jenkins Orphanage Band played in the inaugural parades of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft and toured the US and Europe. The band also played on Broadway for the play "Porgy" by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, a stage version of their novel of the same title. The story was based in Charleston and featured the Gullah community. The Heywards insisted on hiring the real Jenkins Orphanage Band to portray themselves on stage. Only a few years later, DuBose Heyward collaborated with George and Ira Gershwin to turn his novel into the now famous opera, Porgy and Bess (so named so as to distinguish it from the play). George Gershwin and Heyward spent the summer of 1934 at Folly Beach outside of Charleston writing this "folk opera", as Gershwin called it. Porgy and Bess is considered the Great American Opera and is widely performed.
To this day, Charleston is home to many musicians in all genres. A unique showcase of Charleston's musical heritage is presented weekly. "The Sound of Charleston....from gospel to Gershwin", is staged at the historic Circular Congregational Church.
The Music Farm concert venue opened in Charleston on Ann Street in 1991.
Charleston has a vibrant theater scene and is home to America's first theater. In 2010, Charleston was listed as one of the country's top 10 cities for theater, and one of the top two in the South. Most of the theaters are part of the League of Charleston Theatres, better known as Theatre Charleston. Some of the city's theaters include:
- The Dock Street Theatre, opened in the 1930s on the site of America's first purpose-built theater building, is home of the Charleston Stage Company, South Carolina's largest professional theater company.
- Sottile Theater is on the campus of The College of Charleston.
Museums, historical sites, and other attractions
Charleston has many historic buildings, art and historical museums, and other attractions, including:
- Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston is free a non-collecting contemporary arts organization. Their mission is to create meaningful interactions between adventurous artists and diverse communities within a context that emphasizes the historical, social, and cultural importance of the art of our time.
- Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum located in the nearby town of Mount Pleasant. It includes the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10), destroyer USS Laffey (DD-724), submarine USS Clamagore (SS-343), Cold War Submarine Memorial (SSBN and SSN), Vietnam Support Base and Experience Exhibit, and Medal of Honor Museum.
- The Calhoun Mansion, a 24,000-square-foot, 1876 Victorian home at 16 Meeting Street, is named for a grandson of John C. Calhoun who lived there with his wife, the builder's daughter. The private house is periodically open for tours.
- The Charleston Museum, America's first museum, was founded in 1773. Its mission is to preserve and interpret the cultural and natural history of Charleston and the South Carolina Low Country.
- The Warren Lasch Conservation Center houses the very first successful submarine the CSS Hunley, which is on display while awaiting conservation.
- The Exchange and Provost was built in 1767. The building, located on Broad Street, has served as a customhouse, mercantile exchange, and military prison and barracks. During the American Revolution, it was used as a prison by both the British and Continental armies; later, it 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, 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 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 as the City Market or simply the Market, stretch several blocks behind 188 Meeting Street. Market Hall was built in the 1841 and houses the Daughters of the Confederacy Museum. The sheds house some permanent stores, but are mainly occupied by open-air vendors.
- The Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture was established to collect, preserve, and make public the unique historical and cultural heritage of African Americans in Charleston and the South Carolina Low Country. Avery's archival collections, museum exhibitions, and public programming reflect these diverse populations, as well as the wider African Diaspora.
- Fort Sumter, site of the first shots fired in the Civil War, is located in Charleston Harbor. The National Park Service maintains a visitor center for Fort Sumter at Liberty Square (near the South Carolina Aquarium), and boat tours including the fort depart nearby.
- The Battery is an historic defensive seawall and promenade located at the tip of the peninsula along with White Point Garden, a park featuring several memorials and Civil War-era artillery pieces.
- Rainbow Row is an iconic strip of homes along the harbor that date back to the mid-18th century. Though the homes are not open to the public, they are one of the most photographed attractions in the city and are featured heavily in local art.
- Pineapple Fountain- Located in Charleston's Waterfront Park, the fountain was placed here in 1990 during the spring time after Hurricane Hugo had hit. Pineapples are popular in Charleston as they are used as symbols of hospitality.
- Middleton Place, home to America's Oldest Landscaped Gardens, was named "the most important and most interesting garden in America". It is home to camellias that are hundreds of years old and hills of azaleas. It was planned so that there is something in bloom year-round. The house was built in 1755, and was home to four generations of the Middleton Family. It still holds their exquisite furniture, and decorations. The same family has held ownership of the property for more than 320 years, and successfully keeps it in good condition so that visitors can appreciate its significance.
- The South Carolina Aquarium is Charleston's #1 family attraction. Visitors can come face-to-face with over 5000 wild animals, and anyone can touch the sharks and sting rays. There is a Sea Turtle Hospital where tourists can interact and learn. The mission of the aquarium is to inspire conservation of the natural world by exhibiting and caring for animals, by excelling in education and research, and by providing an exceptional visitor experience. The aquarium is a not-for-profit organization.
- Waterfront Park located on the Cooper River. This park was completed in May 1990, and has many activities, such as taking a nice walk through the canopy of live oak trees and there are two fountains located in the park, where most children will play in. The park consists of 13 acres (5.3 hectares), therefore making it the ideal place to take a walk or even get some studying done, as the College of Charleston is very close.
- Old Slave Mart museum – Located at 6 Chalmers St in the historic district is the first African American Museum. It has operated since 1938.
- Palmetto Carriage Works – Established in 1972, Palmetto Carriage Works is the oldest carriage company in historic Charleston, S.C. Still family owned and operated by the Doyle family, the company offers guided horse and mule-drawn carriage tours of Charleston's downtown and residential historic districts.
Charleston is home to a number of professional, minor league, and amateur sports teams:
- The Charleston Battery, a professional soccer team, play in the USL Championship. The Battery play on Daniel Island at MUSC Health Stadium.
- The South Carolina Stingrays, a professional hockey team, plays in the ECHL. The Stingrays play in North Charleston at the North Charleston Coliseum. The Stingrays are an affiliate of the Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears.
- The Charleston RiverDogs, a Minor League Baseball team, plays in the South Atlantic League and are an affiliate of the New York Yankees. The RiverDogs play at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park.
- The Charleston Outlaws RFC is a rugby union club in the Palmetto Rugby Union, USA Rugby South, and USA Rugby. It competes 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 Charleston Gaelic Athletic Association is a Gaelic athletic club focusing on the sports of hurling and Gaelic football. The club competes in the Southeastern Division of the North American County Board of the GAA. The club hosts other division clubs in the Holy City Cup each spring.
- The Lowcountry Highrollers is a women's flat-track roller derby league in the Charleston area. The league is a local member of the Women's Flat Track Derby Association.
- The Family Circle Tennis Center hosts the Volvo Car Open, a major Women's Tennis Association Event. The facility is located on Daniel Island.
Other notable sports venues in Charleston include Johnson Hagood Stadium (home of The Citadel Bulldogs football team) and Toronto Dominion Bank Arena at the College of Charleston, which seats 5,700 people who view the school's basketball and volleyball teams.
Books and films
Various books and films have been set in Charleston; some of the best known works are listed below. In addition, 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.
- Porgy (1925), by DuBose Heyward, adapted into the play in 1927. George Gershwin's folk opera Porgy and Bess (1935), based on the novel Porgy, is set in Charleston and was partially written at Folly Beach, near Charleston. A film version was released in 1959.
- North and South series of books by John Jakes, was partially set in Charleston. The North and South miniseries was partially set and filmed in Charleston.
- Part of the 1989 film Glory, starring Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman, features the 1863 Second Battle of Fort Wagner on Morris Island.
- The movies Swamp Thing (1982) and The Lords of Discipline (1983) (based on the novel by Pat Conroy) were partly filmed in Charleston.
Charleston is a popular tourist destination, with a considerable number of hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts, numerous restaurants featuring Lowcountry cuisine and shops. Charleston is also a notable art destination, named a top-25 arts destination by AmericanStyle magazine.
Commercial shipping is important to the economy. The city has two shipping terminals, owned and operated by the South Carolina Ports Authority, which are part of the fourth-largest container seaport on the East Coast and the thirteenth-largest container seaport in North America.
Charleston is becoming a popular location for information technology jobs and corporations, and this sector has had the highest rate of growth between 2011 and 2012, due in large part to the Charleston Digital Corridor. In 2013, the Milken Institute ranked the Charleston region as the ninth-best performing economy in the US because of its growing IT sector. Notable companies include Blackbaud, SPARC a Booz Allen Hamilton subsidiary, BoomTown, CSS, and Benefitfocus.
It has been named "America's Most Friendly [City]" by Travel + Leisure in 2011 and in 2013 and 2014 by Condé Nast Traveler, and also "the most polite and hospitable city in America" by Southern Living magazine. In 2016, Charleston was ranked the "World's Best City" by Travel + Leisure.
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 current mayor, since 2016, is John Tecklenburg The council has 12 members who are each elected from single-member districts.
In 2006, Charleston's residents voted against Amendment 1, which sought to ban same-sex marriage in that state. Statewide, the measure passed by 78% to 22%, but the voters of Charleston rejected it by 3,563 (52%) to 3,353 votes (48%).
The City of Charleston Fire Department consists over 300 full-time firefighters. These firefighters operate out of 20 companies located throughout the city: 16 engine companies, two tower companies, and one ladder company along with several special units. Training, Fire Marshall, Operations, and Administration are the divisions of the department. 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. Russell (Rusty) Thomas served as Fire Chief until June 2008, and was succeeded by Chief Thomas Carr in November 2008.
The City of Charleston Police Department, with a total of 458 sworn officers, 117 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 was worse than the national average in almost every major category. Luther Reynolds serves as the current Chief of Police. He follows Greg Mullen, the former Deputy Chief of the Virginia Beach. Prior to Mullen, the 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 reduction in crime rates. Crime overall, declining since 1999, has continued to decline in Charleston and in most major cities across the country since then.
EMS and medical centers
Emergency medical services (EMS) for the city are provided by Charleston County Emergency Medical Services (CCEMS) & Berkeley County Emergency Medical Services (BCEMS). The city is served by the EMS and 911 services of both Charleston and Berkeley counties 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: 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 another major hospital located in the West Ashley portion of the city: Bon Secours-St Francis Xavier Hospital. The Trident Regional Medical Center located in the City of North Charleston and East Cooper Regional Medical Center located in Mount Pleasant also serve the needs of residents of the city of Charleston.
Coast Guard Station Charleston
Coast Guard Station Charleston responds to search and rescue emergencies, conducts maritime law enforcement activities, and Ports, Waterways, and Coastal Security (PWCS) missions. Personnel from Station Charleston are highly trained professionals, composed of federal law enforcement officers, boat crewmen, and coxswains who are capable of completing a wide range of missions.
Coast Guard Sector Charleston (District 7)
- Coast Guard Station Charleston
- Coast Guard Helicopter Air Facility, Johns Island, Charleston
- Coast Guard Reserves, Charleston
- USCGC Yellowfin, Marine Protector-class coastal patrol boat, Charleston
- USCGC Anvil, 75-foot inland construction tender, Charleston
- USCGC Willow, (WLB-202), Charleston
The following table shows Charleston's crime rate for six crimes that Morgan Quitno uses to calculate the ranking of "America's most dangerous cities", in comparison to the national average. The statistics shown are for the number of crimes committed per 100,000 people.
|Crime||Charleston (2011)||National Average|
Since 1999, the overall crime rate of Charleston has declined markedly. The total crime index rate for Charleston in 1999 was 597.1 crimes committed per 100,000 people, while in 2011, the total crime index rate was 236.4 per 100,000. The national average[when?] is 320.9 per 100,000.
The City of Charleston is served by the Charleston International Airport. It is located in the City of North Charleston and is about 12 mi (19 km) northwest of downtown Charleston. It is the busiest passenger airport in South Carolina (IATA: CHS, ICAO: KCHS). The airport shares runways with the adjacent Charleston Air Force Base. Charleston Executive Airport is a smaller airport located in the John's Island section of the city of Charleston and is used by noncommercial aircraft. Both airports are owned and operated by the Charleston County Aviation Authority. As of April 2019, British Airways does seasonal non-stop flights from Charleston to London-Heathrow.
Charleston is served by two daily Amtrak trains: The Palmetto and Silver Meteor at the Amtrak station located at 4565 Gaynor Avenue in the City of North Charleston located around 7.5 miles from downtown Charleston.
Interstates and highways
Interstate 26 (I-26) begins in downtown Charleston, with exits to the Septima Clark Expressway, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and Meeting Street. Heading northwest, it connects the city to North Charleston, the Charleston International Airport, I-95, and Columbia. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and Septima Clark Expressway are part of U.S. Route 17 (US 17), which travels east–west through the cities of Charleston and Mount Pleasant. The Mark Clark Expressway, or I-526, is the bypass around the city and begins and ends at US 17. US 52 is Meeting Street and its spur is East Bay Street, which becomes Morrison Drive after leaving the east side. This highway merges with King Street in the city's Neck area (industrial district). US 78 is King Street in the downtown area, eventually merging with Meeting Street.
- Interstate 26 (eastern terminus is in Charleston)
- Interstate 526
- U.S. Route 17
- U.S. Route 52 (eastern terminus is in Charleston)
- U.S. Route 78 (eastern terminus is in Charleston)
- State Highway 7 (Sam Rittenberg Boulevard)
- State Highway 30 (James Island Expressway)
- State Highway 61 (St. Andrews Boulevard/Ashley River Road)
- State Highway 171 (Old Towne Road/Folly Road)
- State Highway 461 (Paul Cantrell Boulevard/Glenn McConnell Parkway)
- South Carolina Highway 700 (Maybank Highway)
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge across the Cooper River opened on July 16, 2005, and was the second longest cable-stayed bridge in the Americas at the time of its construction. The bridge links downtown Charleston with Mount Pleasant, and has eight lanes plus a 12-foot lane shared by pedestrians and bicycles. The height of the bridge varies, but it is estimated that it has a height of 573 feet. 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.
City bus service
The city is also served by a bus system, operated by the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA). Most of the urban area is served by regional fixed route buses, which are equipped with bike racks as part of the system's Rack and Ride program. CARTA offers connectivity to historic downtown attractions and accommodations with the 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. The system is also commonly called the TriCounty Link.
The Port of Charleston, owned and operated by the South Carolina Ports Authority, is one of the largest ports in the United States, ranked in the top 25 by containerized cargo volume in 2014. It consists of five terminals, and a sixth terminal was to open in 2018. Despite occasional labor disputes, the port is ranked number one in customer satisfaction across North America by supply chain executives. Port activity at the two terminals located in the city of Charleston is one of the city's leading sources of revenue, behind tourism.
Today, the Port of Charleston boasts the deepest water in the southeast region and regularly handles ships too big to transit through the Panama Canal. A harbor-deepening project is currently underway to take the Port of Charleston's entrance channel to 54 feet and harbor channel to 52 feet at mean low tide. With an average high tide of 6 feet, the depth clearances will become 60 feet and 58 feet, respectively.
Union Pier, in the city of Charleston, is a cruise ship passenger terminal which hosts numerous cruise departures annually. In May 2010, the Carnival Fantasy was permanently stationed in Charleston, offering weekly cruises to the Bahamas and Key West, eventually to include Bermuda. With the addition of the weekly Carnival Fantasy sailings, Union Terminal hosted 67 embarkations and ports of call in 2010.
With the closure of the Naval Base and the Charleston Naval Shipyard in 1996, Detyens, Inc. signed a long term lease. With three dry docks, one floating dock, and six piers, Detyens Shipyard, Inc. is one of the largest commercial marine repair facilities on the East Coast. Projects include military, commercial, and cruise ships.
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 independent schools, including Porter-Gaud School (K-12), Charleston Collegiate School (K-12), Ashley Hall (Pre K-12), Charleston Day School (K-8), First Baptist Church School (K-12), Palmetto Christian Academy (K-12), Coastal Christian Preparatory School (K-12), Mason Preparatory School (K-8), and Addlestone Hebrew Academy (K-8).
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston Office of Education also operates out of the city and oversees several K-8 parochial schools, such as Blessed Sacrament School, Christ Our King School, Charleston Catholic School, Nativity School, and Divine Redeemer School, all of which are "feeder" schools into Bishop England High School, a diocesan high school within the city. Bishop England, Porter-Gaud School, and Ashley Hall are the city's oldest and most prominent private schools, and are a significant part of Charleston history, dating back some 150 years.
Public institutions of higher education in Charleston include the College of Charleston (the nation's 13th-oldest university), The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and the Medical University of South Carolina. The city is also home to private universities, including the Charleston School of Law. Charleston is also home to the Roper Hospital School of Practical Nursing, and the city has a downtown satellite campus for the region's technical school, Trident Technical College. Charleston is also the location for the only college in the country that offers bachelor's degrees in the building arts, The American College of the Building Arts. The Art Institute of Charleston, located downtown on North Market Street, opened in 2007. Higher education includes institutions such as the Medical University of South Carolina, College of Charleston, The Citadel, and Charleston School of Law. In addition, there are two universities in North Charleston. Charleston Southern University is located in nearby North Charleston. Also, Clemson University has a branch campus focused on graduate education, electric power and wind turbine research, and restoration of the H.L. Hunley submarine.
Charleston, North Charleston, Goose Creek, and Hanahan are home to branches of the United States military. During the Cold War, the Naval Base (1902–1996) became the third largest U.S. homeport, with 23,500 Navy and Marine personnel, and 13,200 civilians serving over 80 ships and submarines. In addition, the combined facilities of the Naval Base and Weapons Station created the largest U.S. submarine port. The Charleston Naval Shipyard repaired frigates, destroyers, cruisers, submarine tenders, and submarines. Also during this period, the shipyard conducted refueling of nuclear submarines.
The Weapons Station was the Atlantic Fleet's loadout base for all nuclear ballistic missile submarines. Two SSBN "Boomer" squadrons and a submarine tender were homeported at the Weapons Station, while one SSN attack squadron, Submarine Squadron 4, and a submarine tender were homeported at the Naval Base. At the 1996 closure of the station's Polaris Missile Facility Atlantic (POMFLANT), over 2,500 nuclear warheads and their UGM-27 Polaris, UGM-73 Poseidon, and UGM-96 Trident I delivery missiles (SLBM) were stored and maintained, guarded by a U.S. Marine Corps security force company.
In 2010, the Air Force base (3,877 acres) and Naval Weapons Station (>17,000 acres) merged to form Joint Base Charleston. Today, Joint Base Charleston, supporting 53 military commands and federal agencies, provides service to over 79,000 airmen, sailors, soldiers, Marines, coast guardsmen, Department of Defense civilians, dependents, and retirees.
- United States Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District
Charleston is the nation's 98th-largest Designated market area (DMA), with 312,770 households and 0.27% of the U.S. TV population. These stations are licensed in Charleston and have significant operations or viewers in the city:
- WCBD-TV (2, NBC) and (14, CW)
- WGWG (4, Heroes & Icons)
- WCSC-TV (5, CBS, Bounce TV, Grit)
- WITV (7, PBS)
- WLCN-CD (18, CTN)
- WTAT-TV (24, Fox)
- WAZS-CD (29, Azteca America Independent)
- WJNI-CD (31, America One Independent)
- WCIV (36, MyNetworkTV, ABC, MeTV)
- Herman Baer, author
- Frances Elizabeth Barrow, children's writer
- Solomon Nunes Carvalho, painter and photographer
- Mo Brooks, U.S. Representative
- Mark Catesby, English naturalist and author
- Catherine Coleman, chemist, US Air Force officer, and astronaut
- Stephen Colbert, comedian and host of The Late Show
- Andy Dick, actor
- Shepard Fairey, graffiti artist
- Mamie Garvin Fields (1888–1987), teacher and civil rights activist
- Robert F. Furchgott, recipient of Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1998)
- Thomas Gibson, actor and star of Criminal Minds
- Charles "Angry Grandpa" Green, internet personality
- Brian Heidik, actor and winner of Survivor: Thailand
- Grady Hendrix, horror author
- Fritz Hollings, former US Senator and Governor of South Carolina
- Lauren Hutton, model and actress, starring in American Gigolo and The Gambler (1974)
- Robert Jordan (James Oliver Rigney Jr.), fantasy author, notable for Wheel of Time series
- James Ladson, American revolutionary and lieutenant governor
- John Laurens, American revolutionary lieutenant colonel in the continental army
- Mary Elizabeth Lee, writer
- Helen Morris Lewis, suffragist
- Ludwig Lewisohn, writer, essayist, and literary critic
- Earl Manigault, street basketball player
- Peter Manigault, wealthiest person in British North America in 1770
- Louisa Susannah Cheves McCord, writer
- Jeremy McLellan, stand-up comedian
- Carlos Dunlap, football player for the Cincinnati Bengals
- Khris Middleton, basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks
- Julie Mitchum, actress
- Chris Owings, baseball player for Arizona Diamondbacks
- Henry Peronneau (d.1754), noted for his wealth
- Robert Purvis Abolitionist leader
- Alexandra Ripley, author of Scarlett
- Darius Rucker, lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish
- Clarence E. Singletary, South Carolina state legislator and judge
- Melanie Thornton, singer of La Bouche
- Mary Whyte, painter
- Louise Hammond Willis Snead, writer, lecturer, artist
- Denmark Vesey, revolutionary
- Robert Smalls, African American civil war hero, businessman, politician, and civil rights activist
- Joseph Wragg, a pioneer of the large-scale slave trade
- Rick Nelson, city editor Post and Courier
Charleston has two official sister cities, one being Spoleto, Umbria, Italy. The relationship between the two cities began when Pulitzer Prize-winning Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti selected Charleston as the city to host the American version of Spoleto's annual Festival of Two Worlds. "Looking for a city that would provide the charm of Spoleto, as well as its wealth of theaters, churches, and other performance spaces, they selected Charleston, South Carolina, as the ideal location. The historic city provided a perfect fit: intimate enough that the Festival would captivate the entire city, yet cosmopolitan enough to provide an enthusiastic audience and robust infrastructure."
As you may be aware, the city of Charleston, like the city of Panama City, is a historic port City that shares a proud and prosperous history. Our stories are very similar as reflected by our citizens of European, African, Caribbean, native descent, our cuisine, our architecture, and our mutual modern growth in meritime commerce. As Panama City is enjoying a global surge of interest so is Charleston, being ranked as a top destination for travellers, commerce, technology, education, culture and fashion.— The Honorable Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Mayor, City of Charleston 1974–2016
Charleston is also twinned with Speightstown, St. Peter, Barbados. Early English settlers here designed the original parts of Charlestown based on the plans of Barbados's capital city Bridgetown. Many indigo, tobacco, and cotton planters relocated their slaves and plantation operations from Speightstown to Charleston after the sugarcane industry came to dominate agricultural production in Barbados.
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- The female figure is sometimes glossed as Athena, although the official explanation is that she is a personification of Charleston itself. Similarly, although aedes properly refers to temples and originally referred to the churches depicted on the seal, the official gloss is that it intends the city's "buildings".
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- "Barbados: South Carolina's Mother Colony". Sciway.net. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
- Baynes, T. S., ed. (1878), Encyclopædia Britannica, 5 (9th ed.), New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, pp. 428–429 ,
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), Encyclopædia Britannica, 5 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press, pp. 943–945 ,
- Edgar, Walter B. (1998), South Carolina: A History, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 9781570032554
- Frazier, Herb; Bernard Edward Powers Jr.; Wentworth, Marjory (2016), We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel, Nashville: W Publishing, ISBN 9780718041496.
- McInnis, Maurie D. (2005), The Politics of Taste in Antebellum Charleston, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, ISBN 9781469625997
- Thompson, Michael D. (2015), Working on the Dock of the Bay: Labor and Enterprise in an Antebellum Southern Port, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, ISBN 9781611174755
- 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, South Carolina: Bagpipe, 1982. 561 pp.
- Coker, P. C., III. Charleston's Maritime Heritage, 1670–1865: An Illustrated History. Charleston, South Carolina: 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.
- Goloboy, Jennifer L. Charleston and the Emergence of Middle-Class Culture in the Revolutionary Era. Athens, GA; University of Georgia Press, 2016.
- Hagy, James William. This Happy Land: The Jews of Colonial and Antebellum Charleston. U. of Alabama Press, 1993.
- Hart, Emma. Building Charleston: Town and Society in the Eighteenth Century British Atlantic World (University of Virginia Press, 2010, University of South Carolina Press 2015)
- Jaher, Frederic Cople. The Urban Establishment: Upper Strata in Boston, New York, Charleston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. U. of Illinois Press, 1982. 777 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, South Carolina: Spence, ©1976) OCLC: 2846435
- Spence, E. Lee. Treasures of the Confederate Coast: the "real Rhett Butler" & Other Revelations (Narwhal Press, Charleston/Miami, ©1995) ISBN 1-886391-01-7 ISBN 1-886391-00-9, OCLC 32431590
Art, architecture, city planning, literature, science
- Coles, John R.; Tiedj, Mark C. (June 4, 2009). Movie Theaters of Charleston (Paperback). p. 97. ISBN 978-1-4414-9355-2.
- Cothran, James R. Gardens of Historic Charleston. U. of South Carolina Press, 1995. 177 pp.
- Gadsden Cultural Center; Macmurphy, Make; Williams, Sullivan (October 4, 2004). Sullivan's Island/Images of America. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-7385-1678-3.
- Greene, Harlan. Mr. Skylark: John Bennett and the Charleston Renaissance. U. of Georgia Press, 2001. 372 pp.
- Hudgins; Carter L., ed (1994). The Vernacular Architecture of Charleston and the Lowcountry, 1670 – 1990. Charleston, South Carolina: Historic Charleston Foundation.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- 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.
- Jacoby, Mary Moore, ed (1994). The Churches of Charleston and the Lowcountry (hardback). Columbia South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 0-87249-888-3.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link) ISBN 978-0-87249-888-4.
- McNeil, Jim. Charleston's Navy Yard: A Picture History. Charleston, South Carolina: Coker Craft, 1985. 217 pp.
- Moore, Margaret H (1997). Complete Charleston: A Guide to the Architecture, History, and Gardens of Charleston. Charleston, South Carolina: TM Photography. ISBN 0-9660144-0-5.
- 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 (1988). Charleston Antebellum Architecture and Civic Destiny (hardback). Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. p. 315. ISBN 0-87049-555-0. ISBN 978-0-87049-555-7
- Huger Smith, Alice Ravenel; Huger Smith, Daniel Elliott; Simons, Albert (1917), The Dwelling House of Charleston, South Carolina, Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.
- 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.
- Stockton, Robert; et al. (1985). Information for Guides of Historic Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston, South Carolina: City of Charleston Tourism Commission.
- Waddell, Gene (2003). Charleston Architecture, 1670–1860 (hardback). 2. Charleston: Wyrick & Company. p. 992. ISBN 978-0-941711-68-5. ISBN 0-941711-68-4
- Weyeneth, Robert R. (2000). Historic Preservation for a Living City: Historic Charleston Foundation, 1947–1997. Historic Charleston Foundation Studies in History and Culture series. University of South Carolina Press. p. 256. ISBN 1-57003-353-6. ISBN 978-1-57003-353-7.
- 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, September 21, 2009.
- Nelson, Emily The Locket, 2010, 207 pp. The Angel Oak tree at Johns Island near Charleston is featured prominently in the book, The Locket by Emily Nelson.
- Wilson, Thomas D. The Ashley Cooper Plan: The Founding of Carolina and the Origins of Southern Political Culture. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2016.
- Bellows, Barbara L. Benevolence among Slaveholders: Assisting the Poor in Charleston, 1670–1860. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State U. Press, 1993.
- Drago, Edmund L. Initiative, Paternalism, and Race Relations: Charleston's Avery Normal Institute. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1990.
- Egerton, Douglas R. He Shall Go Out Free: The Lives of Denmark Vesey. Madison House, 1999.
- 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. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University 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. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.
- Kennedy, Cynthia M. Braided Relations, Entwined Lives: The Women of Charleston's Urban Slave Society. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2005.
- Powers, Bernard E. Jr. Black Charlestonians: A Social History, 1822–1885. U. of Arkansas Press, 1994.
- Strickland, Jeff. Unequal Freedom: Ethnicity, Race, and White Supremacy in Civil War-Era Charleston. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2015.
- Wilson, Thomas D. The Ashley Cooper Plan: The Founding of Carolina and the Origins of Southern Political Culture. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2016.
- Official website
- Charleston Tourism Guide
- Geographic data related to Charleston, South Carolina at OpenStreetMap
- 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 (Book, 1976) [WorldCat.org]. Worldcatlibraries.org. Spence. April 3, 2017. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
- "H-Net Reviews". H-net.msu.edu. June 28, 2000. Archived from the original on July 4, 2007. Retrieved May 30, 2017.