Charleston (South Carolina)

Charleston (South Carolina)


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The English settled in 1670 at Albemarle Point, on the western bank of the Ashley River, about 11 km (7 miles) from modern Charleston. In 1680, they moved to Oyster Point, where their capital, Charles Town, had been laid out. The city became the most important seaport in the southern colonies, as well as a center of great wealth and culture. Non-English immigrants added a cosmopolitan touch. Most of these people were French Huguenots. Charleston was an early theatrical center. The Dock Street Theatre opened in 1736, making it one of the oldest in the United States.

William Moultrie successfully defended Charleston in the American Revolution. Once in 1776 and again in 1779. But Benjamin Lincoln surrendered the city to the British, who were led by Sir Henry Clinton, on 12 May 1780. The British held Charleston until 14 December 1782. The capital was moved to Columbia in 1790, but Charleston remained the region's social and economic center.

In December 1860, the South Carolina ordinance of secession was passed in Charleston and the city became the scene of the firing on Fort Sumter. This happened on 12 April 1861 and was the act precipitating the Civil War. Charleston's harbor was blockaded and the city under virtual siege by Union forces from 1863 to 1865. Charleston suffered partial destruction but it did not fall until February 1865, after it had been isolated by Sherman's army.

On 31 August 1886, a violent earthquake shook the region. It took many lives and made thousands homeless. Other disasters that struck Charleston include periodic storms, such as Hurricane Hugo, which caused great damage in 1989. The port of Charleston experienced significant growth during the late 20th century.

There are numerous old homes, winding streets and historic sites in the city. Charleston is a charmful place with a mild climate. There are lovely beaches and gardens nearby, including Middleton Place, Magnolia Gardens and Cypress Gardens. Many colonial buildings survive. Among them are Saint Michael's Episcopal Church, which is noted for its chimes. Construction of the church was begun in 1752. The Miles Brewton house is also worth a visit. It was built between 1765 and 1769. Also in town are the Old Powder Magazine, which dates from 1719 and the Gibbes Art Gallery. The Charleston Museum was founded in 1773, making it one of the oldest museums in the United States. One of the most important monuments in Charleston is Fort Sumter National Monument.

The waterfront, especially the Battery and the Grace Memorial Bridge over the Cooper River, are famous Charleston landmarks. The South Carolina Aquarium is on a wharf in the harbor. Cabbage Row surrounds a court that was the 'Catfish Row' of DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy. The annual azalea festival is a popular event and the Spoleto U.S.A. music and arts festival has been held in Charleston since 1977. There are important holiday resorts east and west of the city.

Charleston is the seat of the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina. Also in town are the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston Southern University and the College of Charleston, which was founded in 1790. In 1837 it became the first municipal college in the United States.

Charleston is the oldest city in South Carolina. It is also one of the chief ports of entry in the southeastern United States. The city lies on a low, narrow peninsula between the Ashley and Cooper rivers at the head of the bay formed by their confluence. In the bay, or bordering it you will find several islands. Sullivans Island is the site of Fort Moultrie. On Morris Island are a lighthouse, Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney. Another interesting island is James Island.

Many transportation routes converge at Charleston and through its almost landlocked harbor extensive coastal and foreign trade is carried on. Until 1996, Charleston was the headquarters for the 6th U.S. naval district and for the U.S. air force defense command. The extensive facilities included a submarine base and a huge navy yard, established in 1901. They were in North Charleston, where you will still find a large naval electronics facility. The area has been redeveloped for private industry. Among the Charleston's varied manufactures are chemicals, steel, motor vehicle parts, pulp and paper, textiles and clothing.

There are many hotels, bars and restaurants in Charleston. The city is in the southeast of South Carolina, 160 km southeast from Columbia and 750 km south from Washington D.C.


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