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Charleston is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of West Virginiamarker. It is located at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha Rivers in Kanawha Countymarker. As of the 2000 census, it has a population of 53,421, with its urban area having a population of 212,991, and its metropolitan area 309,635. However, the 2008 Census Estimate has Charleston with a population of 50,302, and a 2008 estimated metro area population of 303,944. It is the county seat of Kanawha County.

Early industry important to Charleston included salt and the first natural gas well. Later, coal became central to economic prosperity in the city and the surrounding area. Today, trade, utilities, government, medicine and education play the central role in the city's economy.

The first permanent settlement, Ft. Lee, was built in 1788. In 1791, Daniel Boone was a member of the Kanawha County Assembly.

Charleston is the home of the West Virginia Power (formerly the Charleston Alley Cats) minor league baseball team, the West Virginia Wild minor league basketball team, and the annual Charleston Distance Run. Yeager Airportmarker and the University of Charlestonmarker are also located in the city.

Charleston is also home to the 130th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard.

The city also contains public parks, such as Cato Park and Coonskin Park, and the Kanawha State Forestmarker, a large public state park that sustains a pool, camping sites, several biking/walking trails, picnic areas, as well as several shelters provided for recreational use.


Zero Milestone.
Capitol Street in downtown Charleston
Aerial photo of snow-covered Charleston looking southeast


After the American Revolutionary War, pioneers began making their way out from the early settlements. Many slowly migrated into the western part of Virginiamarker. Capitalizing on its many resources made Charleston an important part of Virginia and West Virginia history. Today, Charleston is the largest city in the state and the state capital.

Charleston's history goes back to the 18th century. Thomas Bullitt was deeded of land near the mouth of the Elk River in 1774. It was inherited by his brother, Cuthbert Bullitt, upon his death in 1782 and sold to Col. George Clendenin in 1786. The first permanent settlement, Fort Lee, was built in 1788 by Col. Clendenin and his company of Virginia Rangers. This structure occupied the area that is now the intersection of Brooks Street and Kanawha Boulevard. Historical conjecture indicates that Charleston is named after Col. Clendenin's father, Charles. Charles Town was later shortened to Charleston to avoid confusion with another Charles Town in present day West Virginia.

Six years later, the Virginia General Assemblymarker officially established Charleston. On the that made up the town in 1794, 35 people inhabited seven houses.

Charleston is part of Kanawha County. The origin of the word Kanawha (pronounced "KA-NAW"), "Ka(h)nawha", derives from the region's Iroquois dialects meaning "water way" or "Canoe Way" implying the metaphor, "transport way", in the local language. It was and is the name of the river that flows past Charleston. The grammar of the "hard H" sound soon dropped out as new arrivals of various European languages developed West Virginia.. In fact, a two-story jail was the first county structure ever built, with the first floor literally dug into the bank of the Kanawha River.

Daniel Boone, who was commissioned a lieutenant colonel of the Kanawha County militia, was elected to serve in 1791 in the Virginia House of Delegates. As told in historical accounts, Boone walked all the way to Richmondmarker.

Industrial growth

By the early 1800s, salt brines were discovered along the Kanawha River and the first salt well was drilled in 1806. This created a prosperous time and great economic growth for the area. By 1808, 1,250 pounds of salt were being produced a day. An area adjacent to Charleston, Kanawha Salines, now Malden, would become the top salt producer in the world. In 1818, Kanawha Salt Company, first trust in United States, went into operation.

Captain James Wilson, while drilling for salt, struck the first natural gas well in 1815. It was drilled at the site that is now the junction of Brooks Street and Kanawha Boulevard (near the present-day state capitol complex.) In 1817, coal was first discovered and gradually became used as the fuel for the salt works. The Kanawha salt industry declined in importance after 1861, until the advent of World War I brought a demand for chemical products. The chemicals needed were chlorine and sodium hydroxide, which could be made from salt brine.

Political growth

The town continued to grow until the Civil War began in 1861. The state of Virginia seceded from the Union, and Charleston was divided between Union and Confederate loyalty. On September 13, 1862, the Battle of Charleston was fought. Although the Confederate States Army was victorious, occupation of the city was short-lived. Union troops returned just six weeks later and stayed through the end of the war.

The Northern hold on Charleston and most of the western part of Virginiamarker created an even larger problem. Virginia already had seceded from the Union, but the western part was under Union control. The issue of statehood was raised. So amid the tumultuous Civil War, West Virginia officially became a state through Presidential Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln declared the northwestern portion of Virginia to be returned to the Union, and on June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state.

While it is often said that West Virginia separated from Virginia because of differing views on slavery, the real driving factor was economics. The heavy industries in the North, particularly the steel business of the upper Ohio River region, were dependent on the coal available from western Virginia mines. Federalized military units were dispatched from Ohio to western Virginia early in the war to secure access to the coal mines and transportation resources.

Although the state now existed, settling on a state capital location proved to be difficult. For several years, the capital of West Virginia intermittently traveled between Wheelingmarker and Charleston. In 1877, however, state citizens voted on the final location of their capital. Charleston was chosen and eight years later, the first capitol building was opened.

After a fire in 1921, a hastily built structure was opened but burned down in 1927. However, a Capitol Building Commission, created by the Legislature in 1921, authorized construction of the present capitolmarker. Architect Cass Gilbert designed the buff Indiana limestone structure, in the Italian Renaissance style, that was to have a final cost of just under $10 million. After the three stages of construction were completed, Governor William G. Conley dedicated the capitol on June 20, 1932.

Development in the 1900s

Charleston was now the center for state government. Natural resources, such as coal and natural gas, along with railroad expansion also contributed to growth. New industries, such as chemical, glass, timber and steel migrated to the state, attracted by the area's natural resources. There was a huge amount of new construction in Charleston. A number of those buildings, including churches and office buildings, still stand in the heart of downtown along and bordering Capitol Street.

During World War II, the first and largest styrene-butadiene plant in the U.S. opened in nearby Institutemarker, providing a replacement for rubber to the war effort. After the war ended, Charleston was on the brink of some significant construction. One of the first during this period was Kanawha Airport (now Yeager Airportmarker, named after General Chuck Yeager), which was perhaps one of the most phenomenal engineering accomplishments of its time. Built in 1947, the construction encompassed clearing on three mountaintops moving more than nine million cubic yards of earth.

In 1959, the Charleston Civic Centermarker opened its doors. It stands today, totally renovated and providing the largest meeting and exhibit space available in West Virginia.

In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act. Charleston became part of that system in the 1960s when three major interstate systems—I-64, I-77 and I-79 were constructed, all converging in the heart of Charleston. These roads provide convenient access to Midwestern, Northeastern and Southern cities. Charleston is within a day's drive of 60 percent of the U.S. population.

Modern development

In 1983, the Charleston Town Center opened its doors downtown. It was the largest urban-based mall east of the Mississippi River, featuring three stories of shops and eateries. Downtown revitalization began in earnest in the late 1980s as well. Funds were set aside for streetscaping as Capitol and Quarrier Streets saw new building facades, trees along the streets, and brick walkways installed. For a time, the opening of the Charleston Town Center Mall had a somewhat negative impact on the main streets of downtown Charleston, as many businesses closed and relocated into the mall. For a while, the downtown business district (outside of the mall) had a "ghost town" feel to it which took several years to turn around. Today, Capitol Street, Hale Street, and other bordering streets are an eclectic mixture of restaurants, shops, businesses and services that many call the centerpiece of downtown.

The new Robert C. Byrd Federal Building, Haddad Riverfront Park and Capitol Market are just a few new developments that have helped growth in the downtown area during the 1990s. Charleston also became known as one of the premiere healthcare spots in the state. Along with ambitious thinking, plans for even new entertainment and business venues kept Charleston moving along at a steady pace.

In 1983, WV Public Radio launched a live-performance radio program statewide called Mountain Stage [9180]. What began as a live, monthly state-wide broadcast went on to national distribution in 1986. Now in its 26th season, Mountain Stage with Larry Groce records 26 two-hour programs each year, mostly at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, and is heard on over 100 radio stations through National Public Radio and around the world on the Voice of America satellite service.

2003 marked the opening of the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences. The center includes The Maier Foundation Performance Hall, The Walker Theatre, The Avampato Discovery Museum and an art museum. Also on site is The ElectricSky Theater, which is a 175-seat combination planetarium and dome-screen cinema. Movies shown at the theatre include educational large format (70 mm) presentations, and are often seen in similar Omnimax theatres. Planetarium shows are staged as a combination of pre-recorded and live presentations.

Many festivals and events were also incorporated into the calendar, including Multifest, Vandalia Festival, a 4 July celebration with fireworks at Haddad Riverfront Park, and the already popular Sternwheel Regatta, which was founded in 1970, provided a festive atmosphere for residents to enjoy.

Charleston West Virginia has one central agency for its economic development efforts, the Charleston Area Alliance. The Alliance is continuing to work with local leaders and the business community to build the economy of the area and revitalize its downtown. Charleston contains a historic district referred to as the East End.

Average curfew for the state of West Virginia is 12:30 a.m.

Geography and climate

Map of Charleston and vicinity.
Charleston is located at (38.349497, -81.633294).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.7 square miles (84.7 km²), of which, 31.6 square miles (81.8 km²) of it is land and 1.1 square miles (2.8 km²) of it (3.36%) is water.

The city lies at the intersection of Interstates 79, 77, 64, and also where the Kanawha and Elk Rivers meet. Charleston is about southeast of Columbus, Ohiomarker, west of Richmond, Virginiamarker, southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker, east of Louisville, Kentuckymarker, north of Charlotte, North Carolinamarker, south of Cleveland, Ohiomarker, and southeast of Cincinnati, Ohiomarker.

Communities within Charleston

The following are neighborhoods and communities actually within the city limits:

  • Charleston Heights (Westmoreland/Hillsdale)
  • Davis Creek
  • East Endmarker
  • Edgewood
  • Elk
  • Forest Hills
  • Fort Hill
  • Kanawha City

  • Louden Heights
  • North Charleston
  • Oakwood
  • Riverview
  • Shadowlawn
  • South Hills
  • South Ruffner
  • West Side


The following communities are suburbs of Charleston:

Annual climate

Charleston has a yearly climate with four distinct seasons. The city lies on the northern fringes of a humid subtropical climate, which is primarily based on differences in elevation. Charleston's average temperatures are usually warmer than the rest of West Virginiamarker (except Huntington), due to the city being west of the higher elevations. Spring is the most unpredictable season, and spring-like weather usually arrives in late March or early April. From the beginning of March through early May, temperatures can vary considerably and it is not unusual at this time for a warm, sunny, 75-degree day to be followed immediately by a chilly, rainy, 45-degree day. Temperatures warm up considerably in late May, with warm summer-like days. Summer temperatures can be very hot and muggy, with daytime highs occasionally above 90 degrees, sometimes reaching 95°, along with high humidity. Autumn days are usually warm and dry until late October, however nights will start to get cooler. Winters usually differ from other winters in West Virginia. Along with Huntingtonmarker, the city is usually the last place in the state to receive any amount of snowfall. Winters tend to be mild in Charleston, with average high temperatures in the 40°s throughout the winter months, but an occasional cold snap can see temperatures plummet to below 10 degrees at night. Snowfall can occur anytime from late November to mid-April, with the most amounts falling during January and February. It is very rare for a major snowstorm to hit the area, and it is also rare to have a foot or more of snow at a time in Charleston. Charleston does experience a considerable amount of rain, which is spread out over the course of the entire year. Thunderstorms are frequent during the late spring and throughout the summer, and occasionally they can be quite violent. Tornadoes are rare, but they can occur during these storms. Much of the fall and winter precipitation is in the form of gentle drizzling rains. The driest period tends to be during the autumn months of September and October.


Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg high °F (°C) 43 (6.1) 46 (7.7) 56 (13.3) 67 (19.4) 76 (24.4) 83 (28.3) 86 (30) 85 (29.4) 78 (25.5) 68 (20) 56 (13.3) 46 (7.7) 66 (18.8)
Avg low (°F) (°C) 25 (-3.8) 27 (-2.7) 34 (1.1) 43 (6.1) 52 (11.1) 60 (15.5) 65 (18.3) 63 (17.2) 56 (13.3) 45 (7.2) 36 (2.2) 28 (3.3) 44.5 (6.9)
Rainfall in. (mm) 3.4 (86.4) 3.2 (81.3) 3.9 (99.1) 3.3 (83.8) 3.9 (99.1) 3.6 (91.4) 4.9 (124.5) 4.0 (101.6) 3.2 (81.3) 2.6 (66) 3.3 (83.8) 3.3 (83.8) 42.9 (1089.7)
Snowfall in. (mm) 10.1 (256.5) 8.7 (221) 5.1 (129.5) 0.9 (22.9) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.0 (0.0) 0.2 (0.2) 2.2 (55.9) 5.1 (129.5) 32.3 (820.4)


Charleston functions under the Mayor-Council form of city government. The Mayor is the designated Chief Executive Officer of the city with the duty to see that all of the laws and ordinances of the city are enforced. The Mayor gives general supervision over all executive departments, offices and agencies of the city government and is the presiding officer of the Council and a voting member thereof. The current mayor is a Republican, Danny Jones, who was elected in 2003, and re-elected in 2007. Charleston also has a City Manager who is appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council. The City Manager has supervision and control of the executive work and management of the heads of all departments under his control as directed by the Mayor, makes all contracts for labor and supplies, and generally has the responsibility for all of the business and administrative work of the city.

With 27 members, the Charleston City Council is somewhat larger than usual for a city with a population of 50,000. Twenty-one of the Council members are elected from a specific Ward within in the city, and an additional six members are elected by the city at large.

General Elections for Mayor, City Council and other city officers take place in June every four years (Primary Elections are held in May). The most recent election was in 2007. The next scheduled election will be in 2011.


As of the census of 2000, there were 53,421 people, 24,505 households, and 13,624 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,690.4 people per square mile (652.7/km²). There were 27,131 housing units at an average density of 858.5/sq mi (331.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 80.63% White, 15.07% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.83% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 1.91% from two or more races. 0.81% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The top 5 largest ancestries include: German (12.4%), English (11.6%), Americanmarker (11.4%), Irish (10.6%), and Italian (3.9%).

There were 24,505 households out of which 23.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.9% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.4% were non-families. 38.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.82.

The age distribution is 20.7% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 87.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,009, and the median income for a family was $47,975. Males had a median income of $38,257 versus $26,671 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,017. About 12.7% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.


The city of Charleston is host to numerous elementary, middle schools, and high schools as a part of the Kanawha County school system. The three high schools are:

Former High schools

Middle schools

Also known as Junior High Schools.
  • Stonewall Jackson Middle School in the West Side
  • John Adams Middle School in South Hills
  • Horace Mann Middle School in Kanawha City

Elementary schools

  • Holz Elementary School
  • Piedmont Elementary School
  • Ruffner Elementary School
  • Overbrook Elementary School
  • Kanawha City Elementary School
  • Chamberlain Elementary School
  • Watts Elementary School
  • Glenwood Elementary School
  • Ruthlawn Elementary School
  • Robins Elementary School
  • Grandview Elementary School
  • Kenna Elementary School
  • Weberwood Elementary School
  • Sacred Heart Elementary School

Colleges and universities

Charleston hosts a branch campus of West Virginia Universitymarker that serves as a clinical campus for the university's medical and dental schools.Students at either school must complete their class work at the main campus in Morgantownmarker but can complete their clinical rotations at either Morgantown or Charleston.

The city is also home to a 1,000-student private college, the University of Charlestonmarker, formerly Morris Harvey College.The college is located on MacCorkle Avenue along the banks of the Kanawha Riverin the community of South Ruffner. In 2006 the college opened a school of Pharmacy.

Located within the immediate area are West Virginia State Universitymarker and Kanawha Valley Community and Technical Collegemarker, both in Institutemarker and the Marshall University Graduate College, a postgraduate-only branch of Marshall Universitymarker in South Charlestonmarker.The region is also home to the Charleston Branch of the Robert C.Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, an independent program administered by Marshall Universitymarker; it provides access to computer numerical control (CNC) equipment for businesses in two states.

Located approximately from Charleston, West Virginia University Institute of Technology has its campus in Montgomery, West Virginia. West Virginia University Institute of Technologymarker is the largest regional campus of the University and focuses mainly on engineering programs.

Charleston is also home to West Virginia Junior College's Charleston campus. Located in downtown Charleston at 1000 Virginia Street, WV Junior Collegeis accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to award diplomas and associate degrees. Part of the Kanawha Valley for almost 115 years, WV Junior College was originally established as Capitol City Commercial College on September 1, 1892. The College was originally established to train students in secretarial and business skills and has undergone changes in location and curriculum through the years.


Notable companies headquartered in the Charleston area

Notable companies founded in Charleston


Annual events and fairs

Charleston is home to numerous annual events and fairs that take place throughout the city, from the banks of the Kanawha Riverto the capitol grounds.

The West Virginia Dance Festival, held between April 25 and 30, features dancestudents from across the state that attend classes and workshops in ballet, jazzand modern dance. At the finale, the students perform in the West Virginia State Theatre; these are free to the public.

Beginning in 1982, Symphony Sunday, held annually usually the first weekend in June, is a full day of music, food, and family fun, culminating in a free performance by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestraand a fireworks display. Throughout the day, local performing community dance and music ensembles present a series of their own selected pieces with the final performance being by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. The local performing community dance and music ensembles that perform for Symphony Sunday include the Kanawha Valley Ringers, the West Virginia Kickers, the Charleston Neophonic Orchestra, the Charleston Metro Band, the West Virginia Youth Symphony, the Mountain State Brass Band, and the Kanawha Valley Community Band.

Twice a year, in late April and again in early November, the West Virginia International Film Festivaloccurs, where many domestic and international films are shown that range from "full-length feature films, shorts, documentaries, animation and student films. It is the official state film festival.

At the end of September of each year, usually the last Tuesday of September, Charleston hosts the Daily Mail Kanawha County Majorette and Band Festivalfor the eight public high schools in Kanawha County. The festival began in 1947 and has continued on as an annual tradition. The festival is held at the University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Fieldmarker in downtown Charleston.It is West Virginia's longest running music festival.

On May 6, the Kanawha Kordsmen Barbershop Chorusperforms at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences. The 40-man a cappellachorus performs music in a show titled "Songs America Sings." On Memorial Dayweekend, the Vandalia Gatheringis held on the grounds of the state capitol. Thousands of visitors each year enjoy traditional music, art, dance, stories, crafts and food that stems from the "uniqueness of West Virginia's mountain culture." There is no fee for admission.

Since 2005 FestivALLhas provided the Charleston area with cultural and artistic events beginning on June 20(West Virginia Day) and including dance, theater, and music. FestivALL provides local artists a valuable chance to display their works and help get others interested in, and involved with, the local artistic community. Highlights include an art fair on Capitol Street and local bands playing live music at stages set up throughout downtown, as well as a wine and jazz festival on the campus of the University of Charlestonmarker featuring local and nationally known jazz artists and showcasing the products of West Virginia vineyards.

The Charleston Sternwheel Regatta, founded in 1970, is an annual event held on Labor Day weekend of each year. The event has carnival style rides and attractions and live music from local or nationally known bands. It is held on the Kanawha Boulevard by Haddad Riverfront Park on the Kanawha River. The event starts the Wednesday before Labor Day Weekend and ends the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend with a fireworks show on Sunday evening. Due to "political differences" between local sternwheel owners and factions of city government, sternwheel attendance declined in recent years. Once a promising regatta, rivaling Tall Stacks in Cincinnati, was discontinued after the 2008 festival season. Charleston, home to the largest population of privately owned sternwheel vessels in the United States is the only city in the region not home to an annual river festival.

The 2008 World's Strongest Man Competition was hosted in Charleston, the hometown of Phil Pfister, the champion of the 2006 games.

The Beach Sports Network, comprising The EVP Tour and Upstate Watercraft Promotions, will be producing the first annual "EVP Rocks the River" July 31-August 2, 2009. This will consist of a Volleyball tournament along side world class Watercross.

Historical structures and museums

Charleston possesses a number of older buildings which represent a variety of historical architectural styles. About fifty places in Charlestonare included on the National Register of Historic Places. A segment of the East End consisting of several blocks of both Virginia and Quarrier Streets, encompassing an area of nearly a full square mile, has been officially designated as a historical neighborhood. This residential neighborhood has many houses dating from the late 19th and early 20th century as well as a few art decostyle apartment buildings dating from the 1920s and early 30's.

Downtown Charleston is home to several commercial buildings that are between 80 to 115 years old, including such notable structures as the Security Building (corner of Virginia and Capitol Street), 401 Capitol Street (the former Daniel Boone Hotel), the Union Building (at the southern end of Capitol Street), the Kanawha County Courthouse, the Public Library (corner of Capitol and Quarrier Streets) and the Masonic Temple (corner of Virginia and Dickenson Street).

Also of note are several historic churches grouped closely together in a neighborhood just to the east of downtown; Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral (Catholic), First Presbyterian Church, Kanawha Presbyterian Church, St. John's Episcopal Church, Charleston Baptist Temple and All Saints United Methodist Church.

Additional historic buildings can be found throughout the city, particularly in the broader East End, the West Side and Kanawha City. Some of these buildings include:

Parks and outdoor attractions

  • University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Fieldmarker — Used for football, soccer, track, and festivals
  • Appalachian Power Parkmarker — Stadium of the West Virginia Power
  • Cato Park — Charleston's largest municipal park, including a golf course, Olympic-size swimming pool and picnic areas
  • Coonskin Park — Includes swimming pool, boathouse, clubhouse with dining facilities, tennis courts, putt putt golf, an 18-hole par 3 golf course and fishing lake. Schoenbaum Soccer Field and Amphitheatre inside the park is the home of the West Virginia Chaos soccer team
  • Daniel Boone Park — A park with a boat ramp, fishing and picnic facilities
  • Danner Meadow Park
  • Kanawha State Forestmarker — (A forest, including 46 campsites (located in the community of Loudendale)
  • Little Creek Park — Used for basketball, tennis, and soapbox derbies
  • Magic Islandmarker — An area located at the junction of the Elk River and the Kanawha River, near Kanawha Boulevard.
  • Davis Park
  • Haddad Riverfront Park
  • Ruffner Park
  • Shawnee Park


West Virginia PowerWest Virginia ChaosWest Virginia Wonders
Club Sport Founded League Venue
Baseball 2005 South Atlantic League Appalachian Power Parkmarker
Soccer 2003 USL Premier Development League Schoenbaum Field
Women's football 2008 National Women's Football Association TBA


Currently there is only one shopping mall in the city of Charleston, the Charleston Town Center. Opened in 1983, the Town Center Mall is a three-story shopping and dining facility, with 130 specialty stores. Macy'smarker, Sears and J.C. Penney are the mall's current anchor stores. The fourth anchor pad is occupied by the new headquarters for BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Co., the private West Virginia-based workers' compensation carrier. There are also six major restaurants located on street level and 12 fast food restaurants representing the food court, located on the third floor of the mall.

There are four major shopping plazas located in Charleston, one in the Kanawha City neighborhood - The Shops at Kanawha - and three in the Southridge area, divided between Charleston and South Charlestonmarker — Southridge Centre, Dudley Farms Plaza, and The Shops at Trace Fork.

Major stores:

The Shops at Kanawha plaza, formerly The Kanawha Mall, includes Elder-Beerman and Gabriel Brothers as its anchor stores, with the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Customer Service Center as the only remaining tenant in the indoor mall section of the facility. Lowes and Kroger, while not attached to the plaza, are also an integral part of the area. Taco Bell, Applebees, Burger King, Arbys, Captain Dee's, and Cracker Barrel restaurants, as well as two bank branches and several local restaurants, round out the area.

Southridge Centre plaza includes Wal-Martmarker, Staples, Toys'R'Us, Gander Mountain, Ashley Home Furnishings, and Sam's Club. Southridge is also home to Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Famous Dave's BBQ, Chucky Cheese, Quaker Steak and Lube, Wendy's, Taco Bell, McDonald's, New York Steak House, and several other restaurants, along with two bank branches, Marquee Cinemas, the regional jail, and a US Postal Service regional facility.

Dudley Farms Plaza includes Kohl's, Office Max, Radio Shack, Books-A-Million, and Michaels. Logan's Roadhouse is the only restaurant that is part of the plaza itself.

The Shops at Trace Fork plaza includes Marshall's, Men's Wearhouse, PetSmart, Dick's Sporting Goods, Target, Lowe's, Dress Barn, and Pier 1 Imports.

People from Charleston

Movies & television shows filmed in Charleston


  • Chillers (1987) — Troma Films, Directed by Daniel Boyd
  • Correct Change (2001) — Down Home Films and Terra Entertainment, Directed by Mike Lilly
  • Unexpected Aphrodisiacs (2001 short) — Screw Continuity Productions, Directed by Nichole Pridemore, Marlette Carter, Sam Holdren
  • Hurt (2006) — Sorry Dog Films, Directed by Scott A. Martin
  • The Nutz (2007 short) — Pewter Productions, Directed by Jason Brown
  • Audition (2007 short) — The Production Company, Directed by Sam Holdren

Television Shows



Charleston is home to two major newspapers. The Charleston Gazette is the largest circulation newspaper in West Virginia, published Monday through Friday in the morning. The Charleston Daily Mail is published on mornings Monday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, the Charleston Gazette and the Daily Mail combine to produce a newspaper titled the Charleston Gazette-Mail.


Charleston has a total of 11 radio stations (AM and FM) licensed in the city. Most of the stations are either owned by West Virginia Radio Corporation or Bristol Broadcasting Company.

Call sign Frequency Format Description / Notes
WVPNmarker* 88.5 FM Public Radio [9185] NPR News, Classical Music, Mountain Stage, and other local and national programs.
KLOVE 93.3 FM Religious
WXAF* 90.9 FM Religious
WZAC 92.5 FM Classic Country
WZJO 94.5 FM Alternative [9186] Z Rock 94-5. West Virginia's only Alternative radio station.
WKWSmarker* 96.1 FM Country [9187] 96.1 The Wolf. The station plays mostly country music, but also has a mix of Southern rock.
WQBE* 97.5 FM Country [9188] 97.5 WQBE. The Charleston MSA's #1 rated radio station, according to Arbitron.
WRVZ 98.7 FM Rhythmic Top 40 [9189] 98.7 The Beat. Despite the station's low ERP, it still competes well with Electric 102.7.
WVAF* 99.9 FM Adult Contemporary [9190] V-100
WMXEmarker 100.9 FM Classic Hits [9191] 100.9 The Mix
WVSR* 102.7 FM Top 40 [9192] Electric 102.7
WKLCmarker 105.1 FM Rock [9193] Rock 105
WAMX 106.3 FM Rock [9194] X 106.3
WKAZmarker 107.3 FM 60's 70's Top 40 [9195] Classic Top 40
WCHSmarker* 580 AM News / Talk [9196] 58 WCHS
WCAW* 680 AM Oldies The Oldies format was formerly on 107.3marker.
WVTS* 950 AM News / Talk [9197] Sepertalk 950
WSWW* 1490 AM Sports ESPN 1490

* represents radio stations that are licensed to the city of Charleston.


The Charleston–Huntington TV market, is the second largest television market (in terms of area) east of the Mississippi River, serving counties in central West Virginia, eastern Kentuckymarker, and southern Ohiomarker. There are four VHF and ten UHF television stations in the market, even though some of the stations broadcast from Ohio and Kentucky.

Call sign Channel Description
WSAZmarker 3 Huntingtonmarker (NBC)/(MyNetworkTV on DT2)
WCHS-TVmarker 8 Charleston (ABC)
WVAHmarker 11 Teays Valleymarker (Fox)
WOWKmarker 13 Huntingtonmarker (CBS)
WOUBmarker 20 Athens, Ohiomarker (PBS)
WOCW-LPmarker 21 Charleston (The CW)
WKPI 22 Pikeville, Kentuckymarker (PBS / KET)
WKAS 25 Ashland, Kentuckymarker (PBS / KET)
WLPXmarker 29 Hurricanemarker (ION)
WQCWmarker 30 Portsmouth, Ohiomarker (The CW)
WPBY 33 Huntingtonmarker (PBS)
WPBOmarker 42 Portsmouth, Ohiomarker (PBS)
WVCW-LPmarker 45 Huntingtonmarker (The CW)
WYMTmarker 57 Hazard, Kentuckymarker (CBS)
  • Channel 61
WTSFmarker 61 Ashland, Kentuckymarker (Daystar)


Tallest buildings

There are 21 high-rise buildings located in Charleston. The Kanawha Valley Building is the tallest structure in the downtown area; contrary to popular belief, the State Capitol Building is not the tallest structure in the city, nor in the state.
Tallest buildings
Name Stories Height
West Virginia State Capitolmarker 3 292 ft (89 m)
Kanawha Valley Building 20 265 ft (81 m)
Huntington Square 17 207 ft (63 m)
Chase Center 18 225 ft (69 m)
City Center West 13 186 ft (57 m)
United Center 12 177 ft (54 m)
Charleston Marriott Town Center 16 175 ft (53 m)
AT&T Building 15 195 ft (60 m)
405 Capitol Street Building 12 136 ft (41 m)
Union Building 14 183 ft (56 m)
United Center 12 178 ft (55 m)
Imperial Tower 19 191 ft (58 m)
Laidley Tower 18 ? ft (? m)
BB&T Square 18 ? ft (? m)
Bank One Center 18 ? ft (? m)
Carroll Terrace 13 ? ft (? m)
Holiday Inn Charleston House 12 ? ft (? m)
Columbia Gas Transmission Building 12 ? ft (? m)
Boulevard Tower 12 ? ft (? m)
Jarrett Terrace 12 ? ft (? m)
Security Building 11 ? ft (? m)


Yeager Airportmarker is West Virginia's largest airport. It is located north of Interstate 64 and Interstate 77, accessible via WV 114.


Amtrak, the national passenger rail service, provides tri-weekly service to Charleston via the Cardinal routes. The Amtrak station is on the south side of the Kanawha River, at 350 MacCorkle Avenue near downtown.


Interstate 64 crosses the Kanawha River four times as it passes through the Charleston metropolitan area. The Elk River flows into the Kanawha River in downtown Charleston.


Charleston is served by Interstate 64, Interstate 77, and Interstate 79. The West Virginia Turnpike's northern terminus is at the southeastern end of the city. Two U.S. routes, US 60, and US 119, cut through the city center. US 21 formerly ran through Charleston.

WV 25, WV 61, WV 62, and WV 114 are all state highways that are within Charleston's city limits.

Mass Transit

Charleston is served by Kanawha Valley Regional Transit Authority.

Taxi Service

C&H Taxi services the Kanawha valley.


Sister city

Charleston's sister city is:

See also

  • General Frank M.marker Coxemarker was built in Charleston in 1922 by the Charles Ward Engineering Works. She served as an Army transport and later a cruise ship on San Francisco Bay. She is now preserved as a floating restaurant in Burlingame, Californiamarker, just south of San Francisco.


External links

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