Elegant, discreet, unobtrusive, these are the terms that the small town on the Atlantic coast is often used to describe. It is a city with a southern flair, which was not only voted the best city in the world by the travel magazine Travel + Leisure in 2016, but together with its surrounding area also served as the backdrop for the classics of film history “Gone with the Wind” and “Torches in the Storm”.
According to ehuacom, Charleston is a city with numerous historical and cultural attractions, including around fifty churches, to which the oldest city in South Carolina (SC) owes its nickname “The Holy City”.
Numbers, dates, facts about Charleston
- State: South Carolina
- County: Charleston County, Berkeley County
- Population: 134,385 (city) / 761,155 (metropolitan area)
- Area: 376.5 square kilometers (of which 361.2 km2 mainland)
- Population density: 372.1 residents per square kilometer
- Founding year: 1670
- Elevation gain: four meters
- Time zone: Eastern (UTC -5 / -4)
- Postal codes: 29401 – 29425
- Area code: +1 843
- Mayor: John Tecklenburg
Charleston is the seat of the city’s Roman Catholic Bishopric and the administrative seat of Charleston County.
Quiet port city on the Atlantic coast
Charleston, which was once called Charles Town, was originally built on the peninsula between the Ashley River in the west and the Cooper River in the east, which form a broad estuary there. This funnel merges into the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast. A sheltered bay and perfect for a natural haven, Charleston Harbor. Today there is the center of Charleston, Downtown, between the rivers, which is often referred to as “The Peninsula”.
All in all, however, like so many other cities, Charleston has grown over time and now extends beyond the Ashley River to include James Island and parts of Johns Island. On the other hand, too, the city limits have expanded beyond the Cooper River and now include not only Daniel Island, but also the Cainhoy region. Charleston Harbor is about eleven kilometers southeast of the Atlantic.
As a result, the city in the US state of South Carolina currently has six different districts: Downtown, West Ashley, Johns Island, James Island, Cainhoy Peninsula and Daniel Island. Charleston is part of the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).
Humid subtropical climate with mild winters and humid summers
The city in South Carolina has a humid, subtropical climate. The winters are mild, the summers hot and humid, and significant rainfall is expected throughout the year. Especially in the months from June to September there are very frequent thunderstorms. The warmest months of the year are July and August. The highest temperature ever measured was 40 degrees Celsius.
The temperatures are more pleasant in autumn. You can expect relatively warm temperatures here until mid-November. However, the city is repeatedly hit by hurricanes in summer and early autumn. Charleston was among others hit by Hurricane Hugo, which raged in September 1989 and is considered one of the most devastating natural disasters in the United States.
Winters are typically short and mild in Charleston. Snow rarely falls. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 8.8 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperature ever measured was -14 degrees Celsius.
445 people per square kilometer
Charleston is the second largest city in South Carolina and is home to an average of 445 people per square kilometer, with women having the upper hand at 52.7 percent. At almost 75 percent, whites make up the largest part of the city’s population. In second place are African Americans with nearly 22 percent. Asians, Pacific islanders and members of other ethnic groups make up only a small proportion of the population. In South Carolina and the southern states in general, the traditional Charleston accent is widely known and heard primarily by members of wealthy white families. The Baptists are the strongest religious community in the city on the Atlantic coast.
The Democrats are ahead in Charleston
South Carolina is known as the “Red State” and thus a state in which Republicans are usually elected. In Charleston itself, however, the Democrats won the majority of the vote in the last three presidential elections.
Tourism plays an important role in Charleston’s economy
Charleston is a popular travel destination with many hotels, inns and other accommodations. There are also numerous restaurants and shops. Commercial shipping and the IT sector are also important to the economy. The latter has seen the highest growth rates in recent years. Well-known companies are for example Blackbaud, SPARC, BoomTown, CSS and Benefitfocus. Charleston’s economy is growing faster than any other metropolitan area in South Carolina. In 2016, the city had an inflation-adjusted gross domestic product of just under 34 billion US dollars.
Infrastructure – Charleston’s connection to the rest of the world
The port city in South Carolina has an international airport that is served by eight airlines. Direct flights are available from Charleston to 30 airports and 25 cities in the United States. Charleston is also a popular cruise ship destination. Many of the ships also go to destinations in the Caribbean.
The city in the southern state is served once a day by Amtrak’s Silver Service / Palmetto, which connects New York with Miami. There are also daily bus services from Savannah, Myrtle Beach and Columbia. In these places there is also a connection to the long-distance buses of the Greyhound Lines.
The city is the end point of Interstate 26 from Columbia. Other road connections exist via US Highway 17, which runs parallel to the coast and runs from Myrtle Beach and Georgetown in the north to Savannah in the south.
Charleston – one of the more dangerous cities in the United States
The southern US city has a reputation for being one of the US cities facing the greatest crime problems. In Forbes’ 2009 list of the most dangerous cities in the United States, Charleston was in the top 10.
However, the problem does not affect the entire city, but mainly areas outside the tourist areas. You should avoid these during your visit, especially in the dark. Especially if you are walking.
Cultural activities in Charleston
The tranquil city on the Atlantic offers its residents and guests numerous cultural offers. In addition to theater and ballet, the symphony orchestra and the Charleston Music Hall are worth a visit. It’s funny in Theater 99 on Meeting Street to, where live improvisation shows take place with artists from the city and special guests. Art lovers will appreciate Charleston’s many galleries. By the way, did you know that the famous Charleston dance also owes its name to the city?
Charleston for nature lovers
In and around Charleston there are numerous spots of nature where it is wonderful to spend the day. Above all, of course, the idyllic plantations that surround the city. But the city’s beautiful parks also offer numerous opportunities to spend a good time in the countryside.
- Sullivan’s Island: The island is located near the Isle of Palms and offers an inviting mix of beautiful beaches, history and folklore. A small island with local restaurants and shops that make up for what it may lack in size with beauty and charm. Definitely a guarantee for great photo opportunities.
- Waterfront Park: The Waterfront Park is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the time. A romantic and picturesque park overlooking Charleston Harbor. You can linger there on one of the many benches, watch the people, the birds, the small sailing boats and the giant cruise ships or visit the famous palm fountain, which is one of the most photographed landmarks in Charleston.
- White Point Garden: The sprawling White Point Garden, also known as Battery Park, is the perfect place for a shady walk or to sit on one of the many benches and look out over the water. Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse can be seen in the distance.
- James Island County Park: James Island County Park is a true outdoor oasis and refuge for Charleston residents and guests of the city. If you want, you can do wonderful sports here, hike across the 643 hectare property or go pedal boating and kayaking. Kids will love the Splash Zone Waterpark.
- Hampton Park: Historic Hampton Park is one of the city’s oldest parks and was once part of a plantation known as The Grove. Today it is an ideal place to play sports, have a picnic or take a quiet walk in this naturally beautiful green area.
- Washington Square Park: Washington Square Park, with its beautiful azaleas and mature trees, is quietly located in the heart of the city and is surrounded by historic buildings such as Charleston City Hall, the South Carolina Historical Society, and the historic courthouse. The only 1.48 hectare park is surrounded by wrought iron gates and is a popular haven in the heart of the city, especially in spring and summer, where life can be enjoyed.
- Gadsdenboro Park: Gadsdenboro Park is located on Concord Street near the SC Aquarium. The huge public green space that was once called Concord Park has lots of nice ways to stretch your legs, a nice playground, sports fields and other amenities.