WELCOME TO CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
In a horse-drawn carriage, meander past moss-draped magnolia and dogwood trees and manicured city gardens fronting 350 years of Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Victorian, and Classic Revival estates instantly call to mind the Antebellum South. When Azaleas blossom in spring, you’ll concede there are few places more comfortable with their beauty. Historic preservation has reached a detente with outward modernism. And Downtown Charleston has the earliest and still vibrant status as a Black heritage destination.
Black heritage is layered with every brick structure, celebrated at every fort, artistically expressed in the iron latticework, woven into sweetgrass baskets and anchored in wharves of the port. Charleston is in one sense, an inescapable part of the extended African American family history. Scrumptious Gullah Food and Low Country Cuisine will have you begging for more.
This port city has preserved human scale and charm matched only by Savannah. It is home to a fort immortalized in the movie Glory and Catfish Row portrayed in the movie Porgy & Bess. Gibbes Museum of Art has a superb fine art collection befitting a city of much larger size. The Spoleto Festival, MOJA Arts Festival, Flowertown Festival, and the Fine Arts Gallery Weekend pepper your tastes with events for all five senses. A visit to this golfing haven and family-friendly city is not complete without quality time at the South Carolina Aquarium, Cypress Gardens, Charleston Waterfront Park, and Sullivan's Island.
A naturally sheltered port city on the Atlantic Ocean, Charleston attracted slaveholders who imported slaves from West and Central Africa. With their physical endurance, greater resistance to disease than Native Americans, and agricultural knowledge, Africans largely shaped the economic engine of early Charleston and it’s resultant wealthy cultural life of prestige for the slaveowners. Their story is well presented in the Avery Research Center for African American History & Culture. Similar to the earliest European citizens who came for economic, political and religious freedom, not all Africans in Charleston were slaves. Refugees from Caribbean islands, as well as manumission practices by slaveholders, formed a small, but significant Free Persons of Color population, including the famous Denmark Vesey.
From these beginnings, Charleston evolved into a mosaic of cultures that characterize the region. The heralded Low Country cuisine borrows something from every group that passed through Charleston - Kiawah Indians, African, English, French, Spanish, and Scots. Many of these citizens carved out a niche for themselves as artisans, craftsmen and small business owners. Handmade sweetgrass baskets, elegant iron latticework, Frogmore Stew, She-Crab Soup and Benne Seed Wafers are just a few of the art and culinary contributions.
Aside from the Black cultural attractions to explore the roots of our heritage, one of the best reasons to visit is Charleston’s proximity and relationship with the nearby Gullah Islands. You are always reminded of their close relationship in local art galleries and ebullient festivals.