About Charleston

To those of us who live in the Charleston and surrounding areas, it’s no surprise the city has been honored repeatedly by a variety of magazines, including AARP, naming Charleston as one of America’s favorite destination spots for vacation, retirement or relocation. Charleston’s appeal is a consistent contender behind New York City and San Francisco. Many recall that as late as the 70’s Charleston wasn’t even printed on most globes, yet today Charleston is one of the brightest stars on the planet.  Relatively speaking, we live in a southern paradise; that’s why we’re so friendly. Charleston is a seaside bastion of small town Americana, yet with each passing decade the city and our greater area seem to evolve entirely new facets of local culture and geography with beautifully evocative distinction. And for that, our home has become far more than a playground for the wealthiest. In many cases it has also become their home.

Just a Matter of Time

The three-plus decades of Mayor Joe Riley’s administration first jump started Charleston’s conversion from the south’s most historic little town to one of the most coveted destination’s on the planet. While Charleston is famous for our beach-laden barrier islands and vast network of rivers, marsh creeks, and oak canopied river roads, downtown Charleston is a remarkably well preserved antebellum city with the feel of an island resting in the center of Charleston harbor, sort of like a supersized history-rich Key West. In actuality it’s the tip of a very narrow peninsula connected to the rest of Greater Charleston via the I-26 corridor and a network of scenic bridges — most of which are brand spanking new. And thanks to these new bridges, of all the sea level cities in the U.S., Charleston is surely the most geographically interesting and visually pristine.

City of Festivals & Cuisine

Charleston is equally appreciated for its uniquely artistic culture. It’s hard to discuss Charleston without mentioning the popular Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto Arts Festivals, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, and the wildly popular Cooper River (10K) Bridge Run, which collectively speak to the spirit and personality of our fun loving community. Charleston is also internationally renowned for its large collection of award winning restaurants and an overarching culture of culinary creativity, which is no surprise considering Charleston’s large and diverse community of artists and creatives. And with the sophisticated shops and galleries of the King Street shopping district, the artisan stalls of Market Street no longer dominate the Charleston shopping experience. With an approximate population of just 115,000, the City of Charleston comprises about one fifth of Greater Charleston’s estimated half million residents, but it is unquestionably “downtown” to all no matter which town or municipality you call home. This is partly due to the tight proximity of the towns, but it’s mostly a reflection of the unusually high degree of unity that exists across the Charleston area.

The Heart of Charleston

Rich in church history, Charleston is also known as the Holy City. The many church steeples that set off the city’s pristine skyline are a charming a tie to the city’s past, but are also a clear a statement of its core values. The city takes great care to ensure no building eclipse the steeples. Charleston takes pride in its history as a true bastion of religious tolerance during colonial times, and today Charleston is almost exclusively a Judeo-Christian culture which reflects well in the charm, kindness, and family values our residents. The City is also home to the first synagogue in the country and is home to a large Jewish population. While historic Charleston is best known as the birthplace of the Civil War, the area was an even larger player in the revolutionary war. The film “The Patriot” (with Mel Gibson) was based on the role Charleston and its citizens played during the revolutionary war. The City consists of three major sections separated by the Ashley River to the west and the Cooper River to the east. Downtown Charleston is the tip of the peninsula created where the two rivers meet at Charleston Harbor.

Cradle of Knowledge

Three very well respected universities and colleges have their main campuses in Charleston. The Citadel (The Military College of South Carolina), The College of Charleston (the first Municipal College in American history) and the Medical University of South Carolina are all located downtown. The Medical University (MUSC) serves as the core of Charleston’s impressive medical center footprint along the Ashley River, making it the largest collective of hospitals, diagnostics facilities, and medical research centers in the South Carolina. Just up the river from MUSC is Joe Riley Stadium, home to the Charleston River Dogs, a minor league baseball team for the New York Yankees. “The Joe” is also adjacent to main campus of The Citadel, which also rests on the downtown side of the Ashley River. Charleston connects to the town of Mount Pleasant via the new Arthur Ravenel Bridge that jumps the merging point of the Cooper River and the Wando River at Charleston Harbor. As part of U.S. Highway 17 , the Ravenel Bridge is the largest and most visually impressive cable stay bridge in North America and as you can tell by most recent photos, it presents some of the most majestic parings of modern marvels and small town charm anywhere in the world.

Click on “Map” for the “lay of the land” and to help better understand Charleston’s complex geography and network of rivers and creeks.