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Donny James

History Of Charleston/North Charleston?

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I was browsing the New Orleans board the past few days, and I read a good post somebody made that gave a detailed rundown on the history of Uptown and Downtown New Orleans, the difference between the two, and the history of the wards within each part of town. It was interesting because he was explaining how the local New Orleanians aka the Creoles had the downtown side of town, and the newcomer Americans settled Uptown and made that their section of town.

It made me wonder if the history of North Charleston the neighborhoods' histories and the history of the Downtown neighborhoods are as well-known or documented in that type of detail. As time goes on I get more and more interested in finding out the history of the settlement of Charleston neighborhoods. I found something on the internet that gave a pretty detailed account of how most of the peninsulas lower half neighborhoods were developed, but still nothing for the North Area and the downtown neighborhoods history past the early 1800's.

Ive seen a number of people on here that seem to be pretty knowledgeable on similar topics, is there anybody that knows a good deal about this subject in particular??

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While I'm not an expert on the history of Charleston and I'm sure that there are others in this forum that can do a better job than I can, I do know a little about the history of Charleston. Until the 1830's Charleston had pretty much the wealthiest and largest Jewish community in North America. They were extremely active in the slave trade and resided primarily in the central and Eastside parts of the city along with slaves. On the Eastside they were eventually replaced by freed blacks. In 1849 Line St represented the extent of the city. At this time the neighborhoods of Hempstead, Elliot Borough, Cannon Borough,Ansonbourough, Mazyck Borough, Radcliffe Borough and other neighborhoods were all suburbs on Charleston's upper peninsula. Today these neighborhoods are in the heart of downtown Charleston. King St, the highest place on the low lying peninsula, existed long before this time and actually served as the only land route from the walled city of Charleston. This street exited the walled city from the gate located at Boundary St. which is now called Calhoun St. The walls themselves were dismantled after the defeat of the Yamasee Indians in the Yamasee Indian War of 1717. In 1901 Charleston hosted the forerunner to the World Fair which was known as the South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition in what is now Hampton Park. This attracted 700,000 people and greatly expanded the suburbs of the northern peninsula and Charleston as a whole. Some grand buildings were built where the park is now but they were lost to time and fire. The Charleston peninsula was much smaller when the settlers first came there from Charles Towne Landing in what is now West Ashley. The peninsula at that time was called Oyster Point (hence todays park called White Point Garden) and was better situated for a port and defense from Indians and the Spanish. The mashes, swamps, streams and lakes in and around the peninsula were vastly filled in to create the size of todays peninsula in much the same fashion that the city of Boston did with their peninsula. In the 20's 30's and 40's North Charleston was basically forest land as my 79 year old father likes to tell me back during the 1930's and 1940's. He used to go hunting where there are now strip malls, multi lane highways, and homes. Part of North Charleston is in fact called Deer Park to this day. North Charleston owes its existence primarily to the now-defunct Naval Shipyard and Base. The area was almost exclusively white including such Charleston Neck neighborhoods such as Winslow Place, Accabee, Rosemont, Charleston Heights, Union Heights,etc. North Charleston's Olde Towne at Montague also got it's start during the 1940's. With the exception of Olde Towne whites began to move out of the neighborhoods as blacks gained the financial means to move into the new suburbs that were formerly all white. North Charleston has always been a prime location for industry during its existence and large phosphate mines once operated there until cheaper phosphate from the Pacific islands closed them down. That is where the 8 lane road known as Ashley Phosphate gets its name from. Along with the heavy industry came heavy pollution and the mud and water along the banks of the Ashley River once boiled and foamed from all of the toxic chemicals dumped into the soil and water. This was cleaned up and continues to be cleaned up to this day with Federal monies from the Superfund Project.

Edited by SimCity

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Well that was a great way to start LOL to say the least. That was extremely informative. Anybody that can add anymore please feel free to do so.

I can see how the wall would run along Calhoun Street, and King Street being the central roadway in and out. Also, at least on the Westside, you can see how the architecture changes once you get on the other side of Line Street/Crosstown. To the east of Rutledge, and north of Line, the housing styles of Carolina Street, Fishburne Street, etc... are different from the mostly Single House lined streets of Cannonborough/Elliotborough, like on Coming, Bogard, and Line Street, etc.

When the Jewish population relocated from the Eastside, did they move west and is that when the Wagener Terrace area started to become more developed? Also, I remember reading somewhere that said something to the effect of blacks moving north into the swampy neck area to get away from the city, maybe during the late 1800's reconstruction era, or the early decades of the 1900's, and this is when many of those North Charleston neighborhoods like Union Heights were developed. But I could easily just be wrong because I vaguely remember reading that.

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I heard that someone was writing a book about the development and history of Charleston, but I have no idea if or when that will be completed.

I too am interested in this development and history of Charleston's neighbrohoods. Some history is more transparent. An interesting way to learn about the timeline of development is to research old city maps. There are many available online. It may suprise you to see how small the peninsula actually was and how much they filled in to create the city we know and love today. There were many more docks, swamps and other such things around downtown than you would expect.

The oldest parts of downtown are the French Quarter and the old market area, where the largest docks/wharves used to be. Some may be suprised to find out that Harleston Village was the first "suburb" of Charleston and the first major expansion of the city. Radcliffborough used to be little more than a swamp.

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The original post was very good, indeed. While Jews and blacks were important and large components of the mix of ethnic groups of early Charleston, there are others not mentioned. The vast majority of European settlers came from the British Isles, and many of the planter class relocated from Barbados. (A very interesting correlation exists between the Caribbean island and the city to this day.) French Huguenots were also an important early group, escaping persecution from their home country, which was becoming less tolerant of Protestants.

Charleston was a tolerant city, and quite urbane. Many cultural firsts occurred in Charleston due to this sophistication and open-mindedness, quite different from the Puritans of New England. Among the firsts of the aristicratic populace of Charleston: the first theatre, the first opera, the first museum, the first library society, first musical society, first native architect, and first landscaped gardens--of the New World. All of this resulted in Charlestonians ammassing the vast and nationally-important assemblage of fine architecture, gardens, and furnishings that you see today.

There are MANY excellent books on this subject. The Charleston County Library main branch on Calhoun Street, especially the South Carolina Room, will be a rich resource for you in that regard. Have fun!

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I just found this video of The South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition that was filmed by Thomas Edison Inc. in 1902. I wish some of these buildings were still around.

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I just found this video of The South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition that was filmed by Thomas Edison Inc. in 1902. I wish some of these buildings were still around.

The majority of the structures were temporary, as was the norm, and were dismantled at the end of the expo. They were made of plywood like movie props. The grounds of the Expo were left as Hampton Park after the buildings were dismantled. The bandstand in Hampton Park is the only remnant of the Expo that was left as a useable structure.

Wikipedia describes the Chicago World's Fair buildings thusly: "facades were made not of stone, but of a mixture of plaster, cement and jute fiber called "staff", which was painted white, giving the buildings their "gleam". Architecture critics derided the structures as "decorated sheds."

Of course, structures from past world fairs have become those cities' icons: the Eiffel Tower, the Space Needle in Seattle, etc.

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You can also trace the development of Charleston by searching for historic maps of the city online. You can see how they filled in the marshes over time. You can barely recognize the grid at first, then it starts to look more familiar.

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Here is an article about North Charleston's efforts to save its Olde North Charleston neighborhood. The city has designated it a historic district. Definitely a good step.

P&C Article

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http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/one-mans-plan-to-merge-charleston-and-north-charleston/Content?oid=3651875&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Weekly

While it has some merit, I don't think the idea will go very far. It is true that regions are now more defined by cities than states, although I never gave it much thought before. There is some interesting history in the article too.

It is interesting to ponder that if Mendal Rivers had lived another 12-15 months (and thus there would not have been a special congressional election during that critical time) would Palmer Gaillard have been successful in annexing the North area, and preventing the incorporation of North Charleston or at least limitiing the size of the new city.

It is also worth pondering that if this merger did take place, would Greenville and Columbia/Richland pursue city-county consolidation more strongly in order to compete.

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http://www.charlesto...campaign=Weekly

While it has some merit, I don't think the idea will go very far. It is true that regions are now more defined by cities than states, although I never gave it much thought before. There is some interesting history in the article too.

It is interesting to ponder that if Mendal Rivers had lived another 12-15 months (and thus there would not have been a special congressional election during that critical time) would Palmer Gaillard have been successful in annexing the North area, and preventing the incorporation of North Charleston or at least limitiing the size of the new city.

It is also worth pondering that if this merger did take place, would Greenville and Columbia/Richland pursue city-county consolidation more strongly in order to compete.

There was a similiar article in the Post & Courier a couple months ago about Ed Pendarvis' efforts in supporting the merger.

I doubt there will ever be any serious effort by the leaders of Chas and N Chas to merge and I don't believe taxes could be reduced by a merger.

It would have been interesting to see where the late Mayor Palmer Gaillard would have taken Charleston's city boundaries had he not been distracted by other political ambitions. My recollection is that Gaillard resigned from being mayor in 1975 to take a political appointment as Asst Secy of the Navy. There would probably still be a city of North Chas today but it would be smaller.

Here's a direct link to Pendarvis' OneGreaterCharleston website:

http://onegreatercharleston.squarespace.com/

A combined city would closer to 180sq miles, not 154sq miles as reported in the Charleston City Paper article. Maybe Pendarvis is forgetting about Chas' portion of Johns Island or N Chas' Watson Hill tract off Hwy 61 since neither is included on his website's map of the combined city.

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^^ You are correct about 1975, but Gaillard ran for the COngressional seat in 1971 and that distracted him from pursuing annexation into present day North Charleston.

The article also stated the population would be 197,000 when it would really be 217,000

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I like the concept. Charleston and North Charleston would fare better if they were not competing with each other. For that reason, it makes a lot more sense for those two to merge. Mt Pleasant, Hannahan, etc are primarily residential suburbs. Most of the business and industry is in Charleston and North Charleston. It would be easy to set up boroughs (a-la New York) so that there remains some degree of autonomy in Charleston's various sections (which would do much to appease James Island and West Ashley).

Sadly, the premise is asking some politicians to voluntarily give up power. That hasn't happened in this country since the 1780s. While I'm not optimistic, I'll remain hopeful.

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