Charleston the Old South
Charleston, South Carolina is the second most restored city in the World. It is second only to Rome. It is also where the Atlantic Ocean begins or so our tour guide told us. It lies on a peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers and is home to Charleston Harbor
It is the second largest city in the United States. From the perspective of a small town girl, it really doesn’t seem any larger than Detroit or Chicago. It tends to be more sprawling than either of those.
It is on a fault line that runs from Summerville, South Carolina to Havana, Cuba. The last major (7.3 on the Richter Scale) earthquake in Charleston was in 1886. Smaller earthquakes have happened. Information you will not find on the visitors guide. However you will see where bolts were used in older homes to stabilize them.
Carriage rides are a great way to see historic downtown Charleston. The tours take about an hour. The section you see of Charleston is chosen by lottery. They really have little colored balls for each of the eight sections of the city. You wait outside a booth, watch the balls pop out and are assigned an area to tour. I was lucky enough to get section two which includes the Battery.
We were on King Street where all the expensive exclusive shops are located. Gentlemen on the tour were advised to guard their credit cards. It is also the highest spot in the city and it four inches above sea level. Try not to get too dizzy at this height.
From there we were on to Broad Street. Broad is the city’s divider. Most people want to be SOB’s, (South of Broad) houses closest to Broad start at about a million dollars. The closer you get to the Battery, the more you will pay for a home. Some are upwards of twenty-three million. Each house on our tour had a story. Some of the stories have been invented but been around so long they have become legend. The Three Sisters houses are an example of that. Someone asked a long ago tour guide about three side by side houses. Not having any facts on them he created the Three Sisters story. He related the story to other guides and it has become legend…all the guides now tell it.
You can see such places that appeared in films like The Patriot and one with Julia Roberts. Many films of the south are filmed in Charleston.
Finish your tour with a walking trip to the Market Street shops. This was NOT the slave market; slaves were sold in the harbor. This was land bequeathed to the city for use as an open air market. The Market Street shops carry a wide variety of items that give you a taste for the low country; spices, art, crafts and a multitude of other items. Don’t forget to take time out for the street singers.
Be sure your camera is charged and at the ready. You will not want to miss any part of a tour of Charleston. The tours are even worth taking twice.