About Charleston Page
For the seventeenth consecutive year, readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine designated Charleston a “Top 10” travel destination in the U.S. Charleston was honored with the No. 2 slot - topped only by San Francisco. This ranking maintains Charleston’s spot as the No. 1 east coast destination.
The Historic Downtown District has stood throughout Charleston’s history as the cultural capital of the South and is considered by many to be a living museum, with a wonderful variety of things to do and see. In this beautifully preserved city you can experience tours through historic landmarks, including 18th century homes and plantations, the Battery, museums, churches and the city market. The number of historic sites in Charleston South Carolina is astonishing. Charleston also boasts numerous art galleries that display the city’s impressive appreciation for the visual arts.
If you want to see a well preserved "Southern belle" and breathe the atmosphere of the old white South, you must go to Charleston. Built on a peninsula where the Cooper River and the Ashley River flow into the Atlantic, it retains, to a greater extent than any other town in the southern states, the luxurious, almost aristocratic, ambience of the great days of plantation society - dependent as it was on the sweat and the misery of the blacks. A walk or a drive in a horse-drawn carriage through the Historic District, with its Georgian mansions fronted by verandas and Classical columns and its slender church towers, makes it easy to see why the heroine of "Gone with the Wind" preferred to live in Charleston.
Tourism is now a major element in the economy of Charleston, but the armed forces also make a considerable contribution. Transport planes of the United States Air Force drone almost constantly over the town, and ships of the United States Navy set out from the port on exercises.
The first British settlers landed on the marshy banks of the Kiawah (now the Ashley) River in April 1670, naming their settlement Charles Towne in honour of Charles II. A few years later, however, they moved to the more conveniently situated peninsula and began to develop a new town. Reinforced by new settlers, including French Huguenots, Charles Towne grew to become an important port that owed its prosperity to the trade in skins, rice and indigo. The planters living in the interior sought entertainment and relaxation in the town, and it acquired the first theatre, the first museum and the first college in North America. In 1773 Charleston was described as the wealthiest town in the American South. During the War of Independence the town was occupied in 1780 by British forces, who held it until December 1781. Eighty years later the bombardment of Fort Sumter, at the entrance to Charleston harbor, marked the beginning of the Civil War. The town suffered much damage during the war, but was rebuilt in the old style. It was similarly rebuilt in 1989 after being devastated by Hurricane Hugo.