Charleston is the county seat and the largest city in Charleston County, South Carolina. The city covers and area of one hundred and seventy-eight square miles and has a population of over one hundred and twenty-six thousand residents. This city is situated south of the middle position of South Carolina’s coastline, right at the intersection of the Cooper and Ashley Rivers. The city gained its name from Charles Town, which was named after King Charles II of England.
Charleston is a city that can trace its roots back to the seventeenth century. Charles II of England granted the Carolina territory to eight of his friends, known as the Lords Proprietors. In 1670, the lords arranged the settlement and established Charles Town. It was then chosen by one of the Lords Proprietors, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, as a port town. Within ten years, the town had grown extensively and it was relocated to the position that it currently occupies. It was made the capital of the Carolina Colony, and as such was in the perfect position to continue with its expansion. The colony in its early days, was often attacked by Spain and France, who contested England’s claim on the region. The citizens of the city built a wall around the settlement to help defend it. During this time, Charleston began to flourish as a trade center and the hub for the Atlantic trade with the southern colonies. By the 1770s, it had grown into the fourth largest port in the colonies and gained a population of over eleven thousand residents.
Due to the deterioration between England and the colonists, the city became a point of focus during the American Revolution. In 1773, to protest the Tea Act, citizens of Charleston confiscated tea and put it in the Exchange and Custom House. A year later, the Exchange and Custom House saw representatives from all corners of the colony, elect delegates for the Continental Congress. Soon after, South Carolina declared its independence from British rule on the steps of the Exchange. The British were quick to respond to this insolence, by sending ships of war to attack the city. In 1780, General Harry Clinton attacked the town with a force of over fourteen thousand soldiers. Revolutionary General Benjamin Lincoln became trapped in the city and had to surrender to Clinton. Clinton then marched on to New York and left Charleston in the hands of Charles Cornwallis. Charles Cornwallis lost the city due to prolonged attacks by American guerrillas and irregular militia units. The British temporarily regained the city in 1782, but by the following year the British had left.
In 1788, the residents of the Carolinas met at the Capitol Building for the Constitutional Ratification Convention. During the convention, a fire broke out in the building and the delegates left to the Exchange and declared Columbia the new state capital. Over the next five years, the Capitol Building was rebuilt and became the Charleston County Courthouse. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the population of the town had grown to twenty-three thousand residents, with the vast majority of them being of black ancestry. As the city continued its growth, its industries and commercial institutions were adapted to support the community. In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. A month later, Citadel cadets opened fire on a Union ship entering Charleston’s harbor. In 1865, Union forces seized the city and took Citadel Military Academy. After the Civil War, Union forces remained in Charleston during Reconstruction. In 1867, the city established the first free secondary school for blacks, the Avery Institute. In 1896, the United States Post Office was finished in the city.
Today, Charleston is known for its culture, which is a blend of West African, Southern American, English and French components. The city is also well known for its large number of attractions which include historical monuments, museums and parks. Parks in the city include Cannon Park, Hampton Park, Parkshore Park, White Point Gardens, Concord Park, Hazel Parker Park, Martin Park, Moultrie Park, Waterfront Park, Hester Park, Charles Towne Landing, McMahon Playground, Mitchell Park, Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, Brittlebank Park, Harmon Park, Sunrise Park, Corrine Jones Playground, West Ashley Park, Etwin Park, Mary Utsey Park and Mall Park. The city of Charleston is also known for its sports teams which include a variety of professional, minor league and amateur teams. Some of these include Charleston Battery Soccer team, Charleston River Dogs Baseball team, Charleston Outlaws RFC Rugby team, South Carolina Stingrays Hockey team and the Lowcountry High Rollers Roller Derby team.
A major attraction in Charleston is the USS Yorktown. Its one of twenty-four Essex class aircraft carriers that were built for the United States Navy during World War II. The ship was commissioned in April of 1943 and was involved in several Pacific Theater campaigns which earned it eleven battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation. It also served during the Korean and Vietnam wars. It earned five battle stars during Vietnam, giving it a total of sixteen battle stars. The ship was decommissioned in 1970 and is currently a museum ship. The ship is also a National Historic Landmark.
Other popular attractions in Charleston include the Walking Tour of Historic Charleston, Pub Tour of Charleston, The Schooner Pride, Aiken-Rhett House, Palmetto Carriage Works, H.L. Hunley Submarine, Drayton Hall, Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, Edmondston-Alston Museum, Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, The Calhoun Mansion, Middleton Place, Nathaniel Russell House, Morris Island Lighthouse, Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, American Military Museum, Old Slave Mart Museum, Kiawah Island, Magnolia Cemetery, South Carolina Aquarium, Charleston Visitor Reception and Transportation Center, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Thomas Elfe House, French Huguenot Church, Givhans Ferry State Park, Confederate Museum, Charleston Museum, St. Philip’s Church, Pink House, The Citadel, Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, The Powder Magazine, Charleston National Golf Club, College of Charleston, Heyward-Washington House, Warren Lasch Conservation Center, Old Exchange & Provost, Joseph Manigault House, Macaulay Museum of Dental History and Francis Marion Hotel.