West Virginia

Charleston

  • About

  • History

  • Location

  • Things to do

  • Demographics

  • Culture

  • Schools

  • FAQ

If you’re in the market for a house, Charleston, West Virginia could be your new hometown.

Charleston is the capital of West Virginia. It’s also the largest city in the state. It’s located in the western central portion of the state, at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha rivers. It’s ideally situated, with the rivers on one side and the hills on the other.

The city itself offers a range of things for residents to do, including shopping, dining, gardens, and parks. The capitol complex is stunning, drawing many sightseers from outside of West Virginia. The central location makes Charleston a hub for entertainment, culture, nightlife, and education. The area has several colleges as well.

For nature enthusiasts, there’s a lot to do in the mountains and hills surrounding the area. With a sprawling state park system that includes thousands of acres of protected wildlife, Charleston has endless options when it comes to biking, camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking, or even white water rafting. Many state parks offer RV hookups, shooting ranges, and camping accommodations as well. The area has milder winters than the New England region and offers a variety of ski slopes and snowmobile trails during the snowy season.

History

Charleston and the surrounding area were first inhabited by Native Americans. The Shawnee, Cherokee, Saponi, Delaware, and Mingo were some of the first people here. The city itself was chartered in 1794 when the Virginian government converted 40 acres of land into Charleston. Charleston became a major salt producer in 1824 after the arrival of the first steamboat which made travel and transport of goods much easier. West Virginia was originally part of Virginia, but during the Civil War period, tensions peaked between the western and eastern regions of the state, with the western part of the state supporting the Union while the east backed the Confederates. In 1863, West Virginia officially became a state; making it one of the only states to be created from an existing state. The rich natural resources, including coal, timber, and oil, made Charleston a hub for production and manufacturing throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. During World War II, Charleston became a major wartime producer of rubber. The influx of business helped the city improve its infrastructure and expand.

Things to do in Charleston

While Charleston might give off small-town vibes, there’s plenty of fun to be had in this city. Different events take place throughout the year including festivals and concerts, and the area has a vibrant entertainment scene as well. Charleston’s Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences hosts symphonies, opera, ballet, and theater performances and the Haddad Riverfront Park offers free concerts through its Live on the Levee program, many of them featuring local bands and musicians.

Enjoy good food? Check out the Mountain State Distillery, one of the most popular restaurants in Charleston. This locally owned and operated eatery offers craft beer and an extensive menu.

You’ll also want to visit the Charleston City Market which includes a mix of local and regional sellers who have everything from souvenirs to clothing and artwork.

If you want shopping, make sure you head to the Charleston Town Center Mall, home to some 130 eateries and shops. Or, visit the Capitol Market for locally made products and artisan goods.

Unreal houses in Charleston, WV

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Map showing Charleston

Location

Charleston is surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, several rivers, vast forest lands, rolling terrain, and rich natural gas and coal deposits. The soil is rich in minerals, while the rivers and untouched forests ensure the environment is preserved for future generations. The Interstate 64 (I-64) travels through Charleston, linking it up with other locations including St. Louis, Missouri and Lexington in Kentucky, making it easy for those who love to travel to visit the surrounding areas.

Charleston demographics

According to data from the U.S. Census, Charleston was home to 48,864 people in 2020. The average household income in the city is $49,769, which isn’t too bad considering that it has a cost of living that’s on the low side.

Industries that are driving this state forward have historically been salt production and natural gas extraction, but today, tourism, healthcare, education, and retail jobs, just to name a few, contribute to the economy. Charleston is rich with resources, including major coal, natural gas, mineral, and salt deposits, things that have made chemical manufacturing highly profitable here as well.

Arts in Charleston

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City

If you are a history or architecture buff, Charleston is full of vibrant, unique, and elegant historic buildings and homes. The Historic East End is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and includes over 400 buildings covering 110 acres. One of the oldest historic buildings is Fort Lee which was built in the 18th century and was a military fort that provided security for settlers. You’ll also want to see the old Statehouse and the Holly Grove mansion. There are also over two dozen restaurants here and it’s an ideal place to visit and sightsee.

The downtown area includes the historic Capital Street, which is filled with shops that were built in the 19th century. Many of the storefronts have the original brick facing and most restaurants and retailers on the street are locally owned. Many of the flourishing restaurants in the city are loved by locals and visitors alike, with enough options to ensure even the pickiest of eaters will find something delicious. City Hall is another must-see downtown, with most of the original marble and statutes still intact.

If you’d like to see the city from another perspective, you’ll want to take a river cruise along the Kanawha River on a sternwheel paddle boat. And of course, if you enjoy history, taking a trip to the West Virginia Capitol Complex is like heading back in time. The capitol building itself features a beautiful gold-leaf dome that’s larger than the one in the nation’s capital.

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City

Arts in Charleston

If you are a history or architecture buff, Charleston is full of vibrant, unique, and elegant historic buildings and homes. The Historic East End is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and includes over 400 buildings covering 110 acres. One of the oldest historic buildings is Fort Lee which was built in the 18th century and was a military fort that provided security for settlers. You’ll also want to see the old Statehouse and the Holly Grove mansion. There are also over two dozen restaurants here and it’s an ideal place to visit and sightsee.

The downtown area includes the historic Capital Street, which is filled with shops that were built in the 19th century. Many of the storefronts have the original brick facing and most restaurants and retailers on the street are locally owned. Many of the flourishing restaurants in the city are loved by locals and visitors alike, with enough options to ensure even the pickiest of eaters will find something delicious. City Hall is another must-see downtown, with most of the original marble and statutes still intact.

If you’d like to see the city from another perspective, you’ll want to take a river cruise along the Kanawha River on a sternwheel paddle boat. And of course, if you enjoy history, taking a trip to the West Virginia Capitol Complex is like heading back in time. The capitol building itself features a beautiful gold-leaf dome that’s larger than the one in the nation’s capital.

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City

Arts in Charleston

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City

If you are a history or architecture buff, Charleston is full of vibrant, unique, and elegant historic buildings and homes. The Historic East End is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983 and includes over 400 buildings covering 110 acres. One of the oldest historic buildings is Fort Lee which was built in the 18th century and was a military fort that provided security for settlers. You’ll also want to see the old Statehouse and the Holly Grove mansion. There are also over two dozen restaurants here and it’s an ideal place to visit and sightsee.

The downtown area includes the historic Capital Street, which is filled with shops that were built in the 19th century. Many of the storefronts have the original brick facing and most restaurants and retailers on the street are locally owned. Many of the flourishing restaurants in the city are loved by locals and visitors alike, with enough options to ensure even the pickiest of eaters will find something delicious. City Hall is another must-see downtown, with most of the original marble and statutes still intact.

If you’d like to see the city from another perspective, you’ll want to take a river cruise along the Kanawha River on a sternwheel paddle boat. And of course, if you enjoy history, taking a trip to the West Virginia Capitol Complex is like heading back in time. The capitol building itself features a beautiful gold-leaf dome that’s larger than the one in the nation’s capital.

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City
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