Charleston began life as Charles Town (after King Charles II) when it was founded in 1670 as the capital city of the Carolina Colony. It was renamed in 1783. Reminders of the city's early history are abundant today. As an important and busy seaport, Charleston's downtown area close to the waterfront was the hub of activity in the 17th century. In the 21st century, it still is. It's a great place to take a walk through history, and a great place to eat, too! Old buildings along the narrow downtown streets have lots of shops and restaurants to please a wide variety of tastes, appetites, and wallet sizes.
of the buildings that housed early Charleston's businesses and homes have
survived the years (and hurricanes and earthquakes and a couple of famous wars).
The longest cluster of intact Georgian row houses in the United States,
built around 1680, survived the centuries but had fallen into a state of
terrible disrepair. It acquired the name "Rainbow Row" during its renovation
in the 1930s and 1940s. The stage setting of the folk opera,
"Porgy and Bess," was modeled after a rear facade and courtyard/garden behind
this street-side view of Rainbow Row.
The preservation of visual elements of its history has become an important project for the city of Charleston and for individuals living there. Repair, renovation, and refurbishing of old homes and other buildings is an ongoing process throughout the historic areas of Charleston. These grand mansions on Battery Row are no exception.
Multiple large covered porches provided shade and breeze for the homes during the hot summers before more modern "air conditioning" was available, and they continue to provide this unobstructed view....
Because most buildings are not over three stories high, downtown Charleston's skyline is dominated by tall church steeples. In The Fundamental Constitution of Carolina, written in 1669, religious freedom was guaranteed to the people living there. The historic district of Charleston is home to beautiful churches of many denominations, and their old churchyard burial grounds. St. Philip's Episcopal Church was established in 1680. Its congregation has worshipped in this brick building since it was constructed in the 1830s on (where else?) Church Street. A light was put in the steeple to help guide ships to port.