There is something special about discovering a wonderful city and adding it to your list of favorites. I have felt that way about a number of cities I have explored – San Francisco has always been my favorite, but other cities have also touched and amazed me. New Orleans, Victoria and Washington D.C. captivated me as well as several others that I was happy to get to know. As I walked around Charleston taking in all the historic buildings and streets, I was transfixed by the beauty and historic preservation. I am so glad that much of it was not destroyed as has happened with other cities. Charleston is a real delight with many treasures to enjoy.
I think seeing Charleston on foot is the best way to experience it close up and personal. Plus the narrow streets make driving difficult, especially when you have a truck like we do as the streets were designed in the 1700’s for horse and wagon traffic. It is fun to be able to explore the narrow alleys like Stoll’s pictured above. Unlike other cities we have visited, I couldn’t find any Hop on or Hop off busses or trolley tours. Perhaps that is a reason walking tours are so popular in this city and there are many of them to choose from. I briefly considered scheduling a group walking tour, but perhaps you should meet Mark, an “anti groupie.” When I am joining a group to tour an attraction, museum, etc., he is usually finding a bench to sit and wait. He doesn’t mind waiting and is supportive of my group tours, just doesn’t want to participate in the activity himself.
Before we arrived to Charleston, I had already picked out two self guided walking tours for the city from my South Carolina AAA book. Although the guided tours are more informative and we probably missed out on some great architectural and historical tidbits, walking on our own means we can go at our pace instead of hurrying along. I like to soak in the ambience which is hard to do with a group of people all standing together on the sidewalk trying to pay attention to what a guide is saying. As an example, during one of our walks we came upon the longest cobblestoned street in the city and soon after, a guided tour came by. After they had seen it and left, I was still admiring the stones and testing them out on foot. Below a picture of the “pink house” on that cobblestoned street. It was built in the early 1700’s, was once a tavern and is considered either the first or second oldest house in the city.
Charleston, founded in 1670 by English colonists, is one of the oldest cities in America and one of the original 13 colonies. The city prospered as a busy seaport and from plantations growing rice, cotton and indigo. As a result, the city is full of many beautiful and stately homes. As we walked around the historic area, it seemed like most of the houses were built in the 1700’s or 1800’s with plaques and descriptions of who first owned the home. It is amazing that so many are still standing because the city was attacked during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, endured a major earthquake in 1886 that damaged over 2,000 buildings and suffered through Hurricane Hugo in 1989. After each disaster, the city has bounced back. Many of the homes have “earthquake bolts” which are iron rods placed into the house for stabilization and visible from the exterior. Below you can see two of those “x shaped” braces. This house was built in 1740 and became the first post office for Charleston.
Our walk took us down to Battery Street next to the waterfront with some of the grander homes in the city. An elevated walking path takes you above the street and by the water with remarkable views in every direction.
The homes on this street are really more like palaces or mansions. I thought the prettiest was this pink palace, built in the 1840’s. The homes on the Battery are worth a fortune and this house is no exception. In 2016 it sold for 6.5 million. Prior to the sale it was a Bed and Breakfast but was being bought as a private residence.
Charleston has a few nice parks near the waterfront. The most well known is Whitepoint Gardens off Battery Street near all those mansions. It is full of huge oaks, monuments and a gazebo. When we came upon the park there was a peaceful demonstration going on with Confederate flag wavers and people dressed up in Civil War attire. In the picture below, Mark relaxes next to the park.
Below is a picture of Waterfront Park, a lovely area with shade trees, benches and my favorite, azaleas in bloom.
The pineapple fountain near this park is a favorite monument and popular with youngsters who like to splash in the water. Here in Charleston the pineapple is a symbol of “Southern Hospitality.” I could feel that hospitality as we explored this charming city with friendly people and great ambience. Do you have any favorite cities to share? Thanks for “strolling” along with us – until next time.