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Charleston, SC

Located on the Atlantic coast halfway between North Carolina and Georgia, Charleston is the county seat of Charleston County, South Carolina. A major port during the Civil War, Charleston now thrives as a vacation town as well as a fast-growing, modern city. Downtown has become a popular tourist destination with beautiful plantation homes, cobblestone streets, a city market, and historic buildings in a picturesque setting.

By some reports the fastest-growing city in South Carolina, Charleston has approximately 120,000 residents. Along with the beautiful scenery, Charleston residents enjoy mild winters and hot, often humid summers.

With its location on the water, Charleston offers a multitude of recreational activities, including fishing, sailing, and kayaking on the Atlantic Ocean. Carolina Ice Palace features two NHL-sized rinks for ice skating. Hunting is a popular outdoor activity. Charleston has several public and private golf courses.

ECONOMY AND INDUSTRIES

The tourism industry is a major employer in Charleston, as is the medical industry. Although the Charleston Naval Base has been closed since 1996, Charleston continues to employ many government and military workers, and it is still home to several training centers and units of the Coast Guard, the 437th Airlift Wing, the South Carolina Air National Guard, the Naval Weapons Station and the South Carolina Army National Guard.

Charleston's Digital Corridor is a creative effort to attract, nurture and grow Charleston's technology companies. This is accomplished through a combination of technology-enabled initiatives and business incentives, private business support and member-driven programming. With the goal of offering tangible resources to the business community, the Digital Corridor serves as a portal to government, infrastructure, real estate, education, venture capital, professional resources and a trained workforce.

The City Market is a historic public market, offering affordable space for the operation of small retail businesses. The Market is open 365 days per year, with regular daytime and evening hours. A favorite shopping place for tourists and residents alike, the Market offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to start a small business in a high-traffic location.

The city's major private sector employers include Piggly Wiggly, a grocery wholesaler/retailer headquartered in Charleston, Robert Bosch Corporation and Wal-Mart.

NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISTRICTS

Charleston has a mostly urban population of more than 110,000. The city accommodates around 45,000 houses with more than 40,000 houses occupied. The owners occupy approximately 20,000 houses and the renters occupy about 19,000 houses.

Charleston is one of the oldest port cities in the country and has a rich history involving wars and pirates. The city is known for preserving its history through its homes and buildings within its neighborhoods.

Downtown Charleston has homes dating back to the early 1700s and includes the highest concentration of homes built before 1900. Some of the oldest downtown neighborhoods include:

  • South of Broad, which includes the Battery and Rainbow Row
  • The French Quarter
  • Harleston Village
  • Ansonborough
  • Cannonborough
  • Elliottborough
  • Radcliffborough
  • Wagner Terrace
  • Hampton Park Terrace, located beside the Citadel
  • Mazyck-Wraggsborough

EDUCATION

Charleston is served by the Charleston County School District, which is responsible for approximately 49,000 students.

Colleges and universities in Charleston include:

  • College of Charleston
  • The Citadel (the state's military college)
  • Charleston Southern University
  • Springfield College
  • Charleston School of Law
  • Medical University of South Carolina

SHOPPING

Charleston's shopping malls include the Northwoods Mall, the Citadel Mall, and the Tanger Outlet Center. Charleston's unique downtown open market features vendors and booths selling clothes, jewelry, artwork, books, food, and more. The King Street shopping district features mostly high-end jewelry and clothing stores and numerous restaurants.

SPORTS TEAMS

There are several minor league and amateur sports teams in Charleston:

  • The Charleston RiverDogs are a minor league baseball team that plays at Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Park. The RiverDogs play in the South Atlantic League and are an affiliate of the New York Yankees.
  • The South Carolina Stingrays are an East Coast Hockey League team and an affiliate of the Washington Capitals. They play at the North Charleston Coliseum.
  • The Charleston Battery are a professional soccer team, playing in the USL First Division at Blackbaud Stadium.
  • The Charleston Outlaws are a Rugby Union football club.

FOR VISITORS

  • Fort Sumter National Monument: A U.S. National Monument, Fort Sumter is where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. The fort is accessible only by water, so guests must take a boat to visit the fort.
  • Charleston Historic Tours: Tours of historic Charleston include ghost tours and carriage rides.
  • Rainbow Row: Located in the historic district of Charleston, close to the water, Rainbow Row is a beautiful stretch of private antebellum homes that date back to the 1700s.
  • South Carolina Aquarium: Located right on the water, the South Carolina Aquarium features more than 10,000 different species.
  • Battery Park: A Civil War landmark, Battery Park features antebellum homes, monuments, and a view across the water to Fort Sumter.

Charleston's location on the coast of South Carolina makes the beach a major attraction. Some of the beaches in the Charleston area include:

  • Isle of Palms: This county park has lifeguards on duty seasonally, as well as a family-oriented park.
  • Kiawah Island: Ranked by the Travel Channel as one of the nation's "Top 10" beaches, Kiawah Island access is limited to owners or guests of the resort.
  • Folly Beach County Park: Located on the east end of the Folly Beach barrier island, the park has showers, picnic areas, and restrooms.
  • Sullivan's Island: Site of the first American victory over the British during the Revolutionary War, Fort Moultrie lies at the tip of this island, making it Charleston's first line of defense against invaders. It is also one of the most family-friendly beaches on the coast.

EVENTS

Charleston hosts a number of events throughout the year, many held outdoors:

  • Spoleto Festival USA: This 17-day spring festival celebrates theater in a variety of venues with hundreds of performers.
  • Cooper River Bridge Run: Sanctioned by USA Track and Field, this event features a 10,000-meter race catering to both runners and walkers.
  • Charleston Harbor Fest: Held every summer, this festival brings tall ships from around the world to Charleston.
  • MOJA Arts Festival: This two-week festival is held during the fall to celebrate African-American and Caribbean Arts. The festival includes art displays, storytelling, crafts, ethnic food, music, and poetry.
  • B& Charleston Food and Wine Festival: Taking place in March and featuring top chefs and culinary experts from around the world, the four-day festival highlights and celebrates Charleston's culinary history and culture.
  • The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE): Held each year the weekend preceding President's Day, the SEWE is the largest wildlife and nature event in the country. Each year more than 35,000 attendees come to Charleston for the festival, which features art, exhibits, presentations, and lectures.

LOCAL MEDIA

Charleston is served by the Post and Courier, Charleston City Paper, the Charleston Mercury, and the Charleston Regional Business Journal.

Broadcast stations include:

  • WCBD-TV 2 (NBC)
  • WCIV-TV 4 (ABC)
  • WCSC-TV 5 (CBS)
  • WITV-TV 7 (PBS)
  • WCBD DT2-TV (CW)