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Charleston is a city in Charleston County, South Carolinamarker in the U.S. state of South Carolinamarker. It is the largest city and county seat of Charleston County. The city was originally founded as Carolopolis from the Latin Carolus for Charles and opolis for City. It was later changed to Charlestown or Charles Towne, Carolina in 1670, and moved to its present location (Oyster Point) from a location on the west bank of the Ashley River in 1680; it adopted its present name in 1783. In 1690, Charleston was the fifth largest city in North America, and remained among the ten largest cities in the United States through the 1840 census. Charleston is known as The Holy City due to the prominence of churches on the low-rise cityscape, particularly the numerous steeples which dot the city's skyline, and for the fact that it was one of the few cities in the original thirteen colonies to provide religious tolerance to the French Huguenot Church. In fact, it is still the only city in the U.S. with such a church. Charleston was also one of the first colonial cities to allow Jews to practice their faith without restriction. Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, founded in 1749, is the fourth oldest Jewish congregation in the continental United States. Brith Sholom Beth Israel is the oldest Orthodox synagogue in the South, founded by Ashkenazi (German and central European) Jews in the mid 19th century.

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

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

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

History

Early colonization

After Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland (1630-1685) was restored to the Britishmarker throne following Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate, he granted the chartered Carolina territory to eight of his loyal friends, known as the Lords Proprietors, in 1663. It took seven years before the Lords could arrange for settlement, the first being that of Charles Town. The community was established by English settlers in 1670 on the west bank of the Ashley River, a few miles northwest of the present city. It was soon chosen by Anthony Ashley-Cooper, one of the Lords Proprietors, to become a "great port towne", a destiny which the city fulfilled. By 1680, the settlement had grown, joined by others from Englandmarker, Barbadosmarker, and Virginiamarker, and relocated to its current peninsular location. The capital of the Carolina colony, Charleston was the center for further expansion and the southernmost point of English settlement during the late 1600s.

The settlement was often subject to attack from sea and from land. Periodic assaults from Spainmarker and Francemarker, who still contested England's claims to the region, were combined with resistance from Native Americans, as well as pirate raids. Charleston's colonists erected a fortification wall around the small settlement to aid in its defense. Two buildings remain from the Walled City, the Powder Magazine, where the city's supply of gunpowder was stored, and the Pink House, believed to have been an old colonial tavern.

A 1680 plan for the new settlement, the Grand Modell, laid out "the model of an exact regular town," and the future for the growing community. Land surrounding the intersection of Meeting and Broad Streets was set aside for a Civic Square. Over time it became known as the Four Corners of the Law, referring to the various arms of governmental and religious law presiding over the square and the growing city. St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Charleston's oldest and most noted church, was built on the southeast corner in 1752. The following year the Capitol of the colony was erected across the square. Because of its prominent position within the city and its elegant architecture, the building signaled to Charleston's citizens and visitors its importance within the British colonies. Provincial court met on the ground floor, the Commons House of Assembly and the Royal Governor's Council Chamber met on the second floor.

Ethnic and religious diversity

While the earliest settlers primarily came from England, colonial Charleston was also home to a mixture of ethnic and religious groups. In colonial times, Boston, Massachusettsmarker, and Charleston were sister cities, and people of means spent summers in Boston and winters in Charleston. There was a great deal of trade with Bermudamarker and the Caribbeanmarker, and some people came to live in Charleston from these areas. French, Scottish, Irish, and Germans migrated to the developing seacoast town, representing numerous Protestant denominations, as well as Roman Catholicism and Judaism. Sephardic Jews migrated to the city in such numbers that Charleston eventually was home to, by the beginning of the 19th century and until about 1830, the largest and wealthiest Jewish community in North America The Jewish Coming Street Cemeterymarker, first established in 1762, attests to their long-standing presence in the community. The first Anglican church, St. Philip's Episcopal Church, was built in 1682, although later destroyed by fire and relocated to its current location. Slaves also comprised a major portion of the population, and were active in the city's religious community. Free black Charlestonians and slaves helped establish the Old Bethel United Methodist Church in 1797, and the congregation of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church stems from a religious group organized solely by African Americans, free and slave, in 1791. It is the oldest A.M.E. church in the south, and the second oldest A.M.E. church in the country. The first American museum opened to the public on January 12, 1773 in Charleston.From the mid-18th century a large amount of immigration was taking place in the upcountry of the Carolinas, some of it coming from abroad through Charleston, but also much of it a southward movement from Virginia, Marylandmarker and Pennsylvaniamarker, until the upcountry population was larger than the coastal population. The Upcountry people were viewed by Charlestonians as being unpolished in many ways, and had different interests, setting the stage for several generations of conflicts between the Upcountry and the Charleston elite.

Major Atlantic port

By the mid-18th century Charleston had become a bustling trade center, the hub of the Atlantic trade for the southern colonies, and the wealthiest and largest city south of Philadelphiamarker. By 1770 it was the fourth largest port in the colonies, after only Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, with a population of 11,000, slightly more than half of that slaves. Rice and indigo had been successfully cultivated by slave-owning planters in the surrounding coastal low-country. Those and naval stores were exported in an extremely profitable shipping industry. It was the cultural and economic center of the South.

American Revolution

As the relationship between the colonists and England deteriorated, Charleston became a focal point in the ensuing American Revolution. In protest of the Tea Act of 1773, which embodied the concept of taxation without representation, Charlestonians confiscated tea and stored it in the Exchange and Custom House. Representatives from all over the colony came to the Exchange in 1774 to elect delegates to the Continental Congress, the group responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence; and South Carolina declared its independence from the crown on the steps of the Exchange. Soon, the church steeples of Charleston, especially St. Michael's, became targets for British warships causing rebel forces to paint the steeples black to blend with the night sky.

It was twice the target of British attacks. At every stage the British strategy assumed a large base of Loyalist supporters who would rally to the King given some military support. On June 28, 1776 General Henry Clinton with 2000 men and a naval squadron tried to seize Charleston, hoping for a simultaneous Loyalist uprising in South Carolina. It seemed a cheap way of waging the war but it failed as the naval force was defeated by the Continental Army, specifically the 2nd South Carolina Regiment at Fort Moultriemarker under the command of William Moultrie. When the fleet fired cannonballs, the explosives failed to penetrate the fort's unfinished, yet thick palmetto log walls. Additionally, no local Loyalists attacked the town from behind as the British had hoped. The loyalists were too poorly organized to be effective, but as late as 1780 senior officials in London, misled by Loyalist exiles, placed their confidence in their rising.

Clinton returned in 1780 with 14,000 soldiers. American General Benjamin Lincoln was trapped and surrendered his entire 5400 men force after a long fight, and the Siege of Charlestonmarker was the greatest American defeat of the war (see Henry Clinton "Commander in Chief" section for more). Several Americans escaped the carnage, and joined up with several militias, including those of Francis Marion, the 'Swampfox,' and Andrew Pickens. These militias used Hit-and-run tactics. Eventually, Clinton returned to New Yorkmarker, leaving Charles Cornwallis with 8000 Redcoats to rally Loyalists, build forts across the state, and demand oaths of allegiance to the King. Many of these forts were taken over by the outnumbered guerrilla militias. The British retained control of the city until December 1782. After the British left the city's name was officially changed to Charleston in 1783.

Commerce and expansion

By 1788, Carolinians were meeting at the Capitol building for the Constitutional Ratification Convention, and while there was support for the Federal Government, division arose over the location of the new State Capital. A suspicious fire broke out in the Capitol building during the Convention, after which the delegates removed to the Exchange and decreed Columbia the new state capital. By 1792, the Capitol had been rebuilt and became the Charleston County Courthouse. Upon its completion, the city possessed all the public buildings necessary to be transformed from a colonial capital to the center of the antebellum South. The grandeur and number of buildings erected in the following century reflect the optimism, pride, and civic destiny that many Charlestonians felt for their community.

As Charleston grew, so did the community's cultural and social opportunities, especially for the elite merchants and planters. The first theater building in America was built in Charleston in 1736, but was later replaced by the 19th-century Planter's Hotel where wealthy planters stayed during Charleston's horse-racing season (now the Dock Street Theatre, known as one of the oldest active theaters built for stage performance in the United States. Benevolent societies were formed by several different ethnic groups: the South Carolina Society, founded by French Huguenots in 1737; the German Friendly Society, founded in 1766; and the Hibernian Society, founded by Irish immigrants in 1801. The Charleston Library Societymarker was established in 1748 by some wealthy Charlestonians who wished to keep up with the scientific and philosophical issues of the day. This group also helped establish the College of Charlestonmarker in 1770, the oldest college in South Carolina and the 13th oldest in the United States.

Charleston became more prosperous in the plantation-dominated economy of the post-Revolutionary years. The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 revolutionized this crop's production, and it quickly became South Carolina's major export. Cotton plantations relied heavily on slave labor. Slaves were also the primary labor force within the city, working as domestics, artisans, market workers or laborers. Many black Charlestonians spoke Gullah, a language based on African American structures which combined African, French, German, Jamaican, English, Bahamian and Dutch words. In 1807 the Charleston Market was founded. It soon became a hub for the African-American community, with many slaves and free people of color staffing stalls.

By 1820 Charleston's population had grown to 23,000, with a black majority. When a massive slave revolt planned by Denmark Vesey, a free black, was discovered in 1822, such hysteria ensued amidst white Charlestonians and Carolinians that the activities of free blacks and slaves were severely restricted. Hundreds of blacks, free and slave, and some white supporters involved in the planned uprising were held in the Old Jail. It also was the impetus for the construction of a new State Arsenal in Charleston. Recently, research published by historian Michael P. Johnson of Johns Hopkins University has cast doubt on the veracity of the accounts detailing Vesey's aborted slave revolt.

As Charleston's government, society and industry grew, commercial institutions were established to support the community's aspirations. The Bank of South Carolina, the second oldest building constructed as a bank in the nation, was established here in 1798. Branches of the First and Second Bank of the United Statesmarker were also located in Charleston in 1800 and 1817. While the First Bank was converted to City Hall by 1818, the Second Bank proved to be a vital part of the community as it was the only bank in the city equipped to handle the international transactions so crucial to the export trade. By 1840, the Market Hall and Sheds, where fresh meat and produce were brought daily, became the commercial hub of the city. The slave trade also depended on the port of Charleston, where ships could be unloaded and the slaves sold at markets. Contrary to popular belief, slaves were never traded at the Market Hall areas.

Pre-Civil War political changes

In the first half of the 19th century, South Carolinians became more devoted to the idea that state's rights were superior to the Federal government's authority. Buildings such as the Marine Hospital ignited controversy over the degree in which the Federal government should be involved in South Carolina's government, society, and commerce. During this period over 90 percent of Federal funding was generated from import duties, collected by custom houses such as the one in Charleston. In 1832 South Carolina passed an ordinance of nullification, a procedure in which a state could in effect repeal a Federal law, directed against the most recent tariff acts. Soon Federal soldiers were dispensed to Charleston's forts and began to collect tariffs by force. A compromise was reached by which the tariffs would be gradually reduced, but the underlying argument over state's rights would continue to escalate in the coming decades. Charleston remained one of the busiest port cities in the country, and the construction of a new, larger United States Custom Housemarker began in 1849, but its construction was interrupted by the events of the Civil War.

Prior to the 1860 election, the National Democratic Convention convened in Charleston. Hibernian Hall served as the headquarters for the delegates supporting Stephen A. Douglas, who it was hoped would bridge the gap between the northern and southern delegates on the issue of extending slavery to the territories. The convention disintegrated when delegates were unable to summon a two-thirds majority for any candidate. This divisiveness resulted in a split in the Democratic Party, and the election of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate.

American Civil War

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


On December 20, 1860, the South Carolinamarker General Assembly made the state the first to ever secede from the Union. On January 9, 1861, Citadelmarker cadets fired the first shots of the American Civil War when they opened fire on the Union ship Star of the West entering Charleston's harbor. On April 12, 1861, shore batteries under the command of General Pierre G. T. Beauregard opened fire on the Union-held Fort Sumtermarker in the harbor. After a 34-hour bombardment, Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Officers and cadets from The Citadel were assigned to various Confederate batteries during the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Although The Citadel continued to operate as an academy during the Civil War, cadets were made a part of the South Carolina military department along with the cadets from the Arsenal Academy in Columbia, to form the Battalion of State Cadets. Cadets from both institutions continued to aid the Confederate army by helping drill recruits, manufacture ammunition, protect arms depots, and guard Union prisoners.

In December 1864 Citadel and Arsenal cadets were ordered to join Confederate forces at Tullifinny Creek, South Carolina where they engaged in pitched battles with advancing units of General W. T. Sherman's army, suffering eight casualties.
Ruins seen from the Circular Church, Charleston, South Carolina, 1865.
all, The Citadel Corps of Cadets earned eight battle streamers and one service streamer for its service to South Carolina during the War. The city under siege took control of Fort Sumter, became the center for blockade running, and was the site of the first successful submarine warfare on February 17, 1864 when the H.L. Hunley made a daring night attack on the . In 1865, Union troops moved into the city, and took control of many sites, such as the United States Arsenal, which the Confederate army had seized at the outbreak of the war. The War department also confiscated the grounds and buildings of the Citadel Military Academy, which was used as a federal garrison for over 17 years, until its return to the state and reopening as a military college in 1882 under the direction of Lawrence E. Marichak.

Reconstruction

After the defeat of the Confederacy, Federal forces remained in Charleston during the city's reconstruction. The war had shattered the prosperity of the antebellum city. Freed slaves were faced with poverty and discrimination. Industries slowly brought the city and its inhabitants back to a renewed vitality and growth in population. As the city's commerce improved, Charlestonians also worked to restore their community institutions.
King Street circa 1910-1920
1867 Charleston's first free secondary school for blacks was established, the Avery Institute. General William T. Sherman lent his support to the conversion of the United States Arsenal into the Porter Military Academy, an educational facility for former soldiers and boys left orphaned or destitute by the war. Porter Military Academy later joined with Gaud School and is now a K-12 prep school, Porter-Gaud School. The William Enston Homes, a planned community for the city's aged and infirmed, was built in 1889. J. Taylor Pearson, a freed slave, designed the Homes, and passed peacefully in them after years as the maintenance manager post-reconstruction. An elaborate public building, the United States Post Office and Courthouse, was completed in 1896 and signaled renewed life in the heart of the city.

On August 31, 1886, Charleston was nearly destroyedmarker by an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale. Major damage was reported as far away as Tybee Island, Georgiamarker (over 60 miles away) and structural damage was reported several hundred miles from Charleston (including central Alabama, central Ohio, eastern Kentucky, southern Virginia, and western West Virginia). It was felt as far away as Boston to the north, Chicago and Milwaukee to the northwest, as far west as New Orleans, as far south as Cuba, and as far east as Bermuda. It damaged 2,000 buildings in Charleston and caused $6 million worth of damage ($133 million(2006 USD)), while in the whole city the buildings were only valued at approximately $24 million($531 million(2006 USD).

Modern-day

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

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

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

Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston in 1989, and though the worst damage was in nearby McClellanville, the storm damaged three-quarters of the homes in Charleston's historic district. The hurricane caused over $2.8 billion in damage.

The Medical University of South Carolinamarker is the largest employer in the city limits.

Government

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

Emergency services

Fire department

The City of Charleston Fire Department consists of 237 firefighters in 19 companies located throughout the city. 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.

Police department

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

EMS

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

Crime

The following table shows Charleston’s crime rate in six crimes that Morgan Quitno uses for their calculation for "America's most dangerous cities" ranking, in comparison to the national average. The statistics provided are not for the actual number of crimes committed, but how many crimes committed Per Capita.
Crime Charleston, South Carolina (2007) National Average
Murder 12.8 6.9
Rape 50.3 32.2
Robbery 244.1 195.4
Assault 515.6 340.1
Burglary 676.5 814.5
Automobile Theft 1253.8 391.3
Since 1999, the overall crime rate of Charleston has begun to decline. The total crime index rate for 1999 was 597.1 crimes committed per 100,000 civilians. the United States Average is 320.9 (Per Capita). Charleston had a total crime index rate of 430.9 per 100,000 residents for the year of 2007.

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

Infrastructure and economy

Transportation

Airport

Charleston is served by the Charleston International Airportmarker , which is the busiest passenger airport in the state of South Carolinamarker. The airport shares runways with the adjacent Charleston Air Force Basemarker.

Interstates and highways

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

Major highways



Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

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


Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority

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

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

Port

The Port of Charleston consists of five terminals. Three are on the Harbor and the other two are on the Cooper River just north of Charleston's bustling harbor. The port is ranked number one in customer satisfaction across North America by supply chain executives. Port activity, behind tourism, is the leading source of Charleston's revenue.

Piers

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


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

Geography

Map showing the major rivers of Charleston and the Charleston Harbor watershed.
The city proper consists of six distinct areas: the Peninsula/Downtown, West Ashley, Johns Islandmarker, James Islandmarker, Daniel Islandmarker, and the Cainhoy Peninsula.

Topography

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

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

Climate

Charleston has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with mild winters, hot, humid summers, and significant rainfall all year long. Summer is the wettest season; almost half of the annual rainfall occurs during the summer months in the form of thundershowers. Fall remains relatively warm through November. Winter is short and mild, and is characterized by occasional rain. Snow flurries seldom occur. The highest temperature recorded (inside city limits at the Customs House on E. Bay St.) was , on June 2, 1985, and the lowest temperature recorded was 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 in 1989 (a Category 4 storm).

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

Monthly Normal and Record High and Low Temperatures
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Rec High °F 83 87 90 95 98 103 103 103 102 94 88 83
Norm High °F 60 62 69 76 83 88 90 89 85 77 70 62
Norm Low °F 40 42 46 52 61 68 73 72 67 55 46 41
Rec Low °F 10 17 22 29 44 53 65 56 42 36 27 16
Precip (in) 4.08 3.08 4 2.77 3.67 5.92 6.13 6.91 5.98 3.09 2.66 3.24
Source: USTravelWeather.com


Metropolitan area

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

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

Demographics

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

Culture

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

Dialect

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

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

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

Religion

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

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

Annual cultural events and fairs



Museums, historical sites, and other attractions

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

  • The Exchange and Provostmarker was built in 1767. The building features a dungeon which held various signers of the Declaration of Independence and hosted events for George Washington in 1791 and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788. It is operated as a museum by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
  • The Powder Magazinemarker is a 1713 gunpowder magazine and museum. It is the oldest surviving public building in South Carolina.
  • The Gibbes Museum of Art opened in 1905 and houses a premier collection of principally American works with a Charleston or Southern connection.
  • The Fireproof Buildingmarker houses the South Carolina Historical Society, a membership-based reference library open to the public.
  • The Nathaniel Russell Housemarker 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.marker William Aiken Housemarker, also known as the Aiken-Rhett House is a home built in 1820 for William Aiken, Jr.
  • The Charleston Museummarker was the first museum built in America, founded in 1773.
  • The Heyward-Washington Housemarker 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 Housemarker 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 Shedsmarker, also known simply as the Market, stretch several blocks behind 188 Meeting St. Market Hall was built in the 1830s and houses the Museum of the Confederacy. The Sheds house some permanent stores but are mainly occupied by open-air vendors.


Sports

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





  • The Charleston Outlaws RFC is a Rugby Union Football Club founded in 1973. The Club is in good standing with the Palmetto Rugby Union, USA Rugby South, and USARFU. The club competes for honors in Men's Division II against the Cape Fear, Columbia, Greenville, and Charlotte "B" clubs. The club also hosts a Rugby Sevens tournament during Memorial Day weekend.




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

Fiction

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



Nearby cities and towns





Other unincorporated areas



Parks



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


County Parks

The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) [9689] operates several facilities within Charleston County.

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


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


Marinas and Boat Landings:
  • Cooper River Marina
  • Multiple county-wide boat landings


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


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


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

James Island County Park, approximately 10 minutes by car from downtown Charleston, features a 50-foot climbing wall and bouldering cave; cabin, RV, and tent camping facilities; rental facilties, fishing dock, challenge course, kayaking programs, summer camps, paved trails, and many special events such as the Lowcountry Cajun Festival (usually the first weekend in April), East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival (3rd weekend in April), Holiday Festival of Lights (mid-November through the first of the year), and the summer outdoor reggae concerts.

Schools, colleges, and universities

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

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

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

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

Armed forces

Coast Guard

  • Coast Guard Sector Charleston
  • Maritime Law Enforcement Academy
  • Southeast Regional Fisheries Training Center
  • Electronics Systems Support Detachment (ESD) Charleston
  • Vessel Boarding and Search Team (VBST) Charleston
  • USCGC Dallas
  • USCGC Gallatin
  • USCGC Oak
  • USCGC Yellowfin


Army

South Carolina Army National Guard

State military

South Carolina State Guard3BDE HHC (Mount Pleasant) 5th/6th BN (North Charleston)

Marine Corps

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


Media

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

Sister cities

Charleston has two sister cities, one international and one domestic:



See also



Notes

Further reading

General

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


Art, architecture, literature, science

  • Cothran, James R. Gardens of Historic Charleston. U. of South Carolina Press, 1995. 177 pp.
  • Greene, Harlan. Mr. Skylark: John Bennett and the Charleston Renaissance. U. of Georgia Press, 2001. 372 pp.
  • Hutchisson, James M. and Greene, Harlan, ed. Renaissance in Charleston: Art and Life in the Carolina Low Country, 1900-1940. U. of Georgia Press, 2003. 259 pp.
  • Hutchisson, James M. DuBose Heyward: A Charleston Gentleman and the World of Porgy and Bess. U. Press of Mississippi, 2000. 225 pp.
  • McNeil, Jim. Charleston's Navy Yard: A Picture History. Charleston, S.C.: Coker Craft, 1985. 217 pp.
  • O'Brien, Michael and Moltke-Hansen, David, ed. Intellectual Life in Antebellum Charleston. U. of Tennessee Press, 1986. 468 pp.
  • Poston, Jonathan H. The Buildings of Charleston: A Guide to the City's Architecture. U. of South Carolina Press, 1997. 717 pp.
  • Severens, Kenneth. Charleston: Antebellum Architecture and Civic Destiny. U. of Tennessee Press, 1988. 315 pp.
  • Stephens, Lester D. Science, Race, and Religion in the American South: John Bachman and the Charleston Circle of Naturalists, 1815-1895. U. of North Carolina Press, 2000. 338 pp.
  • Waddell, Gene. Charleston Architecture: 1670-1860. 2 vol. Charleston, S.C.: Wyrick, 2003. 992 pp.
  • Weyeneth, Robert R. Historic Preservation for a Living City: Historic Charleston Foundation, 1947-1997. (Historic Charleston Foundation Studies in History and Culture series.) U. of South Carolina Press, 2000. 256 pp.
  • Yuhl, Stephanie E. A Golden Haze of Memory: The Making of Historic Charleston. U. of North Carolina Press, 2005. 285 pp.
  • Zola, Gary Phillip. Isaac Harby of Charleston, 1788-1828: Jewish Reformer and Intellectual. U. of Alabama Press, 1994. 284 pp.
  • Susan Harbage Page and Juan Logan. "Prop Master at Charleston's Gibbes Museum of Art", Southern Spaces, 21 September 2009. http://www.southernspaces.org/contents/2009/propmaster/1a.htm


Race

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


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