South Carolina

Charleston

  • About

  • History

  • Location

  • Things to do

  • Demographics

  • Culture

  • Schools

  • FAQ

Charleston Ranked the Best City in the World… That Means It’s Time to Buy a House in Charleston, SC

Travel and Leisure Magazine ranked Charleston as the best city in the world and named it ‘America's most friendly city,’ while Condé Nast Traveler called it ‘the most polite and hospitable city in America.’ American Style Magazine declared it a top-25 arts destination. Of course, its history and historic landmarks make it popular with tourists, but it’s also a great place to buy a house.

History

Before looking at Charleston houses for sale, let’s see how the city has developed from its historic roots. It’s impossible to look at the story of the city without taking into consideration the significant impact of a long period when slavery was the driver of the economy. However, in 2018, the City Council apologized for its role in the slave trade and condemned its inhumane history, acknowledging wrongs committed against African Americans by slavery. After British King Charles II granted a charter in 1663, the governor of the Province of Carolina arranged for several shiploads of settlers from Bermuda and Barbados. This settlement failed, but another close by thrived as it was more defensible. The Barbadian and Bermudan immigrants were planters who brought enslaved Africans with them, having purchased them in the West Indies. By 1690, the new town had become the fifth largest in North America. Principal items of commerce were pine timber and pitch for shipbuilding. Planters experimented with a variety of cash crops and brought in slaves who knew how to cultivate rice. The plantations and the economy based on them soon made this the wealthiest city in the 13 Colonies. In 1774, South Carolina declared its independence from Britain in Charleston. The British attacked the settlement three times. Between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, Charleston experienced an economic boom. The expansion of cotton crops led to huge wealth for a small segment of society and funded impressive architecture and culture. It also increased the reliance on slaves and led to more onerous restrictions on them. The 1793 invention of the cotton gin sped up cotton processing and England eagerly took up the extra production. Cotton became the city’s major export. In 1838, Charleston suffered a disastrous fire that burned more than a thousand buildings. The city played a major part in the Civil War and was the site of the first cannon shots fired in 1861. That same year another fire destroyed 500 acres of the city, with Union attacks continuing from the sea. After the defeat of the Confederacy, federal forces remained in Charleston during Reconstruction. Former slaves flocked in from the surrounding countryside, doubling the black population. By the late 1870s, industry was bringing the city and its inhabitants back to a renewed prosperity as new jobs attracted migrants. Then another very strong earthquake nearly destroyed the city in 1886, with 2,000 buildings being damaged. Charleston languished economically for several decades in the 20th century, though the large federal military presence helped to shore up the city's economy. Further blows to the economy were to come, with Hurricane Hugo causing much damage in 1986 and the closing of the huge Naval Base in 1996 having a major impact on the economy. Over the next 30 years, the peninsula's population shifted from two-thirds black to two-thirds white, when many of the former moved to the less-expensive suburbs. As the economy turned around middle-class families began returning to the urban core and the area gentrified with rising prices of houses for sale.

Things to do in Charleston

Middleton Place is home to America’s oldest and most important landscaped gardens. Began in 1741, the historic site today encompasses 110 acres including the gardens, house museum and stables.
Fort Sumter National Monument is where the first clash between the Union and Confederate armies in the Civil War occurred and where the Union forces finally surrendered after a 34-hour bombardment by the Rebels.
The Nathaniel Russell House was completed in 1808. The home’s elegant interiors with elaborate plasterwork, geometrically shaped rooms, formal gardens and collection of 18th-century decorative and fine art speak to the wealth of Charleston’s elite in the early days of the American Republic.
The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon was completed in 1771 and is recognized today as South Carolina's most historic building, where Patriots and pirates were imprisoned, the Constitution was ratified and George Washington was entertained.
South Carolina Aquarium offers visitors more than 5,000 marine animals and includes a sea turtle care center and two touch tanks for a hands-on experience with stingrays, sharks, horseshoe crabs, sea stars and urchins.
Charleston City Market is a popular tourist destination composed of 200-year-old brick market buildings with shops and restaurants.
Joe Riley Waterfront Park is a bright green public space overlooking the coast and great for picnics and walks.

Unreal houses in Charleston, SC

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Map showing Charleston

Location

The city lies just south of the geographical midpoint of South Carolina's coastline on Charleston Harbor, an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean formed by the confluence of the Ashley, Cooper and Wando rivers. It is about 120 miles south-east of the state capital of Columbia and 100 miles north-east of Savannah, GA. The city proper consists of six distinct districts, or neighborhoods, defined by the rivers that dominate the area. Charleston Neighborhoods Downtown / The Peninsula This is Charleston's center city separated by the Ashley River to the west and the Cooper River to the east and a very desirable, though pricey, place to buy a house. West Ashley This is a residential area to the west of downtown bordered by the Ashley River to the east and the Stono River to the west. Johns Island Far towards the western limits of Charleston and bordered by the Stono River to the east, Kiawah River to the south and Wadmalaw Island to the west is Johns Island. Make this one of your first destinations when looking to buy a house in Charleston. James Island James Island is the most popular residential area, located between downtown and the town of Folly Beach. There are plenty of great houses to look at in this neighborhood. Cainhoy Peninsula Situated on the far eastern limits of Charleston, Cainhoy Peninsula is bordered by the Wando River to the west and Nowell Creek to the east. Daniel Island This is a residential area to the north of downtown, east of the Cooper River and west of the Wando River.

Charleston demographics

Charleston has a population of about 150,277. Commercial shipping is important to the economy with two shipping terminals, of a total of five owned and operated by the South Carolina Ports Authority in the Charleston metropolitan area, which are part of the fourth-largest container seaport on the East Coast. The port is also used to transfer cars and car parts for Charleston's auto manufacturing business, such as Mercedes and Volvo.
The port is ranked number one in customer satisfaction across North America by supply chain executives. Port activity is one of the city's leading sources of revenue, behind tourism. The former Naval Base has been leased by a ship repair and refurbishment enterprise.
The Port of Charleston has the deepest water in the south-east region and regularly handles ships too big to transit through the Panama Canal. A harbor-deepening project and other improvements are currently underway.

Arts in Charleston

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City

Charleston's art scene has exploded in recent years, and new galleries are constantly opening. Most are within walking distance of each other in the so-called gallery district, an unofficial neighborhood spanning several blocks within the historic French quarter and gallery row along Broad Street.
The Gullah community has had a tremendous influence on music in the city, especially the early development of jazz. The dances that accompanied the music of the dock workers inspired the Charleston craze in the 1920s. Bands developed locally and were the basis of the musical ‘Porgy and Bess.’ The musical tradition continues to this day with many venues offering entertainment.
Charleston has a vibrant theater scene and is where America's first theater is located. It’s now the location of The Dock Street Theatre, home of the Charleston Stage Company, the state’s largest professional theater company, offering several shows a season.

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City

Arts in Charleston

Charleston's art scene has exploded in recent years, and new galleries are constantly opening. Most are within walking distance of each other in the so-called gallery district, an unofficial neighborhood spanning several blocks within the historic French quarter and gallery row along Broad Street.
The Gullah community has had a tremendous influence on music in the city, especially the early development of jazz. The dances that accompanied the music of the dock workers inspired the Charleston craze in the 1920s. Bands developed locally and were the basis of the musical ‘Porgy and Bess.’ The musical tradition continues to this day with many venues offering entertainment.
Charleston has a vibrant theater scene and is where America's first theater is located. It’s now the location of The Dock Street Theatre, home of the Charleston Stage Company, the state’s largest professional theater company, offering several shows a season.

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City

Arts in Charleston

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City

Charleston's art scene has exploded in recent years, and new galleries are constantly opening. Most are within walking distance of each other in the so-called gallery district, an unofficial neighborhood spanning several blocks within the historic French quarter and gallery row along Broad Street.
The Gullah community has had a tremendous influence on music in the city, especially the early development of jazz. The dances that accompanied the music of the dock workers inspired the Charleston craze in the 1920s. Bands developed locally and were the basis of the musical ‘Porgy and Bess.’ The musical tradition continues to this day with many venues offering entertainment.
Charleston has a vibrant theater scene and is where America's first theater is located. It’s now the location of The Dock Street Theatre, home of the Charleston Stage Company, the state’s largest professional theater company, offering several shows a season.

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City
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