Spring in Charleston brings window boxes full of flowers, streets full of blooms and lots of visitors. Recently I posted on my favorite spots in Charleston
, now I am sharing ten interesting tidbits I’ve learned since I moved here two years ago!
1. The wealthiest city in America at one time
The plantations and economy built on slavery made Charleston the fourth largest city in colonial America and the wealthiest before the American Revolution. The elite used this wealth to create cultural and social developments…
2. A city of firsts
Charleston was more progressive than it’s given credit for! Charleston boasts the first museum (The Charleston Museum), and theater (currently known as the Dock Street Theatre), both still operating today! Also, the first game of golf played in the U.S. was in Charleston.
3. Built for heat
All of Charleston’s traditional homes “Charleston singles,” feature piazzas that face south or west in order to take advantage of cooling breezes, the direction of the wind. I can’t imagine how hot Charleston is without air conditioning.
4. I live in a little slice of history
A stop on everyone’s historical tour is Catfish Row (formerly known as Cabbage Row) on Church Street. George Gershwin’s opera, “Porgy and Bess,” is set in Catfish Row which at one time was home to ten families. These were African American families of freed slaves would sell cabbage right from their window sills (how the name Cabbage Row was born).
5. A very Holy City
Charleston likes to call itself the “Holy City,” because of the endless number of steeples that make up the city’s skyline. Furthermore, I live on Church Street, named after the beautiful St. Philip's Episcopal Church.
6. She’s a tough cookie
In addition to the war, Charleston has experienced nearly every natural disaster. Of course, there are the hurricanes, most notably Hugo, but before that Charleston suffered from a decade of fires in the 1830s, followed by an earthquake that nearly destroyed the city in 1886, and then a tornado in 1938.
7. Paint colors with a story
Historic Charleston Foundation provides guidance on the colors accepted in downtown neighborhoods. One of my favorites is a pale blue, called "haint blue" on the ceilings of the piazzas on historic Charleston homes. While it looks like the sky, it was also believed this color resembles water and would keep the "haints" (evil spirits) away.
Another historical color is “Charleston” dark green. After the Civil War, the North donated black paint to the city to aid in fixing it up. People didn't want to use the “Yankee color,” so they mixed the paint with “Confederate” yellow and blue which resulted in the signature “Charleston” dark green paint color.
8. #1 city, seriously
Charleston was voted the #1 City in the World by Travel + Leisure, and the #1 city in the United States and Canada for the last 4 years running!
9. Literally millions of visitors
Over 6 million people visit Charleston each year, so with a year-round population of only 100,000 that is 60 times more tourists than residents!
10. Rainbow was once the pits
Now arguably the most iconic place in Charleston, Rainbow Row was not always so beautiful and brightly colored. The historic homes were originally used by merchants who kept their business on the ground floor and lived upstairs. After the Civil War this area became a slum, until a wealthy woman Dorothy Porcher Legge and her husband purchased a house on East Bay and painted it bright pink in hopes of making the street a little prettier. Her neighbors followed suit and thus Rainbow Row was born!