Charleston, South Carolina
One of the major ports on the U.S. Atlantic coast, Charleston is the seat of Charleston county in southeastern South Carolina. Sometimes called a "living museum," the city preserves the area's rich history and traditions in its many antebellum mansions, churches, and forts. Located on a jutting peninsula between the estuaries of the Ashley and Cooper rivers, the city of Charleston is the vibrant center of a growing urban area that includes the towns of Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Hanahan, and Goose Creek.
History of Charleston, South Carolina
Established by British settlers on the west bank of the Ashley River in 1670, the city was first called Charles Towne for King Charles II. It was the first British colony in South Carolina. In 1680, the city was moved to its current location, and became a commercial hub for the booming rice and indigo export industry. In 1722, it was incorporated as Charles City and Port; in 1783, it was reincorporated as Charleston .
Charleston was the seat of the provincial congress that created the state of South Carolina in 1775, and it became the state capital the following year. During the American Revolution, the city was overcome by British troops between 1780 and 1782. Though the state capital moved to Columbia in 1790, Charleston continued to prosper as an important commerce hub, becoming the United State's major winter port.
The city played a major role in the Civil War, and 1861 Confederate capture of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor precipitated the beginning of the war.
In 1901 a U.S. naval base was built on the Cooper River, to be expanded in both WWI and II. Charleston's many naval defense facilities were of great strategic importance during the Cold War. At the same time, its industrial development increased rapidly after WWII, to include paper and pulp mills, metalworking, molded rubber product manufacturing, auto parts, chemicals, electrical equipment, textiles, and clothing. In 1993, the naval shipyard and several bases were closed. Charleston remains the hub of financial and commerce on the South Carolina coast. The city's colonial landmarks and picturesque streets draw tourists from around the world.
Charleston's many institutions of higher learning include the College of Charleston (the nation's first municipal college, est. 1770), the Medical University of South Carolina (1824), The Citadel (a military college established in 1842), Trident Technical College (1964), and Charleston Southern University (1964).
Founded in 1773, the Charleston Museum is the oldest museum in the United States. The Battery at White Point Gardens stands at the city's southern edge, overlooking the rivers and the harbour. Fort Sumter National Monument, commemorating the first shot fired in the Civil War, is located about 3.5 miles (5.5 km) southeast of Charleston. Nearby, Middleton Place is a former plantation with a formal garden established in the mid-18th century; Magnolia Plantation and Cypress Garden are noted for azaleas and camellias. Historic landmarks include Heyward-Washington House (1772), the Joseph Manigault House (1803), and the Dock Street Theatre (1736; rebuilt 1937). Cultural institutions include the Charleston Library Society (1748), the Carolina Art Association (1858), and the South Carolina Historical Society (1855).