Sweet Southern Savings
TAKE A STROLL AROUND TOWN AND ENJOY A BIT OF CHARLESTON, SC HISTORY
Looking for today’s secret word? Scroll to the bottom of the page. You’ll find it there.
Charleston, the oldest city in the state of South Carolina, was founded in 1670 as Charles Town, honoring King Charles II of England. From 1670 to 1783, the city was known as Charles Town then Charlestown. No “e” on the end. At the end of the American Revolution in 1783, the name was shortened to Charleston, which has been in use ever since.
South Carolina declared its independence from Britain on the steps of the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon in 1774 and the British attacked the town in force three times, resulting in the British capture of the city. British continued to hold Charlestown for over a year and Charlestown was the last location to be surrendered in South Carolina when the British left quietly on December 14, 1782.
The Civil War began in the Charleston harbor when the Confederates bombarded Union soldiers at Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 12, 1861.
On August 31, 1886, Charleston was nearly destroyed by an earthquake. The shock was estimated to have a moment magnitude of 7.0 and a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme). It was felt as far away as Boston to the north, Chicago and Milwaukee to the northwest, as far west as New Orleans, as far south as Cuba, and as far east as Bermuda. It damaged 2,000 buildings in Charleston and caused $6 million worth of damage ($152 million in 2018 dollars), at a time when all the city’s buildings were valued around $24 million ($609 million in 2018 dollars).
You can still see evidence of devastating quake around the city in the form of earthquake bolts – these iron reinforcement rods and plates were added to many buildings that survived or were built after the quake. Repairmen ran these rods through the walls of hundreds of buildings injured by the great Charleston earthquake.
In 1903, The Charleston dance originated in the African American community on an island off the coast of Charleston, SC. The Charleston has its earliest origins in Central Africa as tribes in Africa perform similar movements in their dances. It did not receive widespread attention until the 1920s when it was adopted by the flappers, women who shortened their skirts and bobbed their hair. From its humble beginnings in South Carolina to the bright lights of Broadway, the Charleston swept the world up in a frenzy of frantic dancing.
The Charleston Riot of 1919 was a race riot that took place on the night of Saturday, May 10, 1919, between members of the US Navy and the local black population. They attacked black individuals, businesses, and homes killing six and injuring dozens. This was the worst violence in Charleston since the Civil War. The subsequent Navy investigation stands as one of the very few official documents regarding white racial violence during the era where the white perpetrators were named and their crimes identified.
John P. Grace Memorial Bridge, or the Cooper River Bridge as it was familiarly known, was a cantilever bridge that crossed the Cooper River in Charleston. It opened on August 8, 1929. The Silas N. Pearman Bridge was opened beside it in 1966 to relieve traffic. They both were part of the cities landscape until they were replaced by the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in 2005.
In October 1929, only months after Hoover took office, the stock market crashed, the average value of 50 leading stocks falling by almost half in two months. During the Great Depression, money was so scarce, that local governments like the City of Charleston were forced to pay employees using scrip – a type of “emergency currency” that served as an IOU. In order to keep the sagging economy going, local currency was born. The forms of this currency include such diverse material as paper, cardboard, wood, metal, tokens, leather, and clamshells. Across the nation in the 1930s, 15 million were unemployed. Thirty percent of South Carolina’s workforce had no jobs. Free food lines were the norm.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt assumed the Presidency at the depth of the Great Depression, he created numerous programs to put people to work. State Parks were built, along with an airport in Greenville, the Dock Street Theater, and the Navy Yard in Charleston, and there was help for the farmers. Santee-Cooper was built with PWA funds and labor paid by the WPA, and delivered electric power to the Lowcountry.
During World War II, many a young person found love in an unlikely place: the Joseph Manigault House. During its stint as a United Service Organizations (USO) dormitory from 1942 to 1946, the antebellum estate, once home to the rice planting Manigault family, shifted gears to house military personnel, volunteers, and the legion of industry workers who flooded the Holy City to aid in wartime efforts. Providing familiar comforts and entertainment to keep spirits high on the homefront, the house was a home away from home for some 345,000 visitors during its four-year run. The USO building also took on the role of meeting place for young men and women as it hosted festivities for its residents and the surrounding community—activities such as archery and athletics took place daily, as well as countless formal teas and dances, such as this Valentine’s Day affair in 1942, during which many fabled love stories might have begun.
On September 3, 1963, Millicent Brown walked past a phalanx of reporters and cameras through the front door of Charleston’s all-white Rivers High School and into history, beginning desegregation of South Carolina’s public schools. The battle for school integration sparked bitterness, anger, and even violence. But at Rivers and the other white Charleston schools integrated that day, no mobs jeered as the black students entered. Law enforcement officials made it clear they would not tolerate crowds. However, there would be three bomb threats that Brown recalls that school day. It was tough on all 11 of the children who integrated Charleston’s schools that day.
The Charleston Hospital Strike of 1969, in which mostly black workers protested discrimination and low wages, was one of the last major events of the civil rights movement. It came in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination a year earlier and attracted Ralph Abernathy, Coretta Scott King, Andrew Young, and other prominent figures to march with the local leader, Mary Moultrie.
To commemorate South Carolina’s tricentennial, Charles Towne Landing opened in 1970. Located where a group of about 120 English settlers landed in 1670 and established what would become the birthplace of the Carolina colony. The park introduces visitors to the earliest colonial history of Charleston. The settlement was surrounded by both a broad trench and a wooden palisade to deter attacks by Native Americans, Spanish raiders, and predatory animals. In addition to the reconstructed wall, you can also find a natural habitat zoo, ongoing archeological excavations, miles of trails, a replica of a ketch, an interactive museum, 24 ft tall carving of a Native Amerian Chief, and much more at this historic site. With a $19 million overhaul, the peaceful park on a marshy point off the Ashley River was rebuilt in 2006.
In 1977, offering over 100 performances of opera, dance, theater, classical music, and jazz from both established and emerging artists, the Spoleto Festival USA began. One of America’s major performing arts festivals, Spoleto’s talented performers fill Charleston’s historic theaters, churches, and outdoor spaces for 17 days and nights.
After the cancellation of the 2020 Festival due to COVID-19, Spoleto created its first digital and radio-based program. Performances were free to access on South Carolina Public Radio, as well as on spoletousa.org, YouTube, Facebook, and IGTV.
The companion to the Spoleto Festival, the multidiscipline arts extravaganza Piccolo Spoleto was introduced to the city in 1979. Operated by the City of Charleston with a focus on local and regional artists this festival offers hundreds of free and low-cost events throughout the city. This festival, running concurrently with Spoleto USA each spring, includes visual arts exhibitions, performances of classical music, jazz, dance, theater, and choral music, as well as cultural events and community celebrations, poetry readings, children’s activities, craft shows, and film screenings.
In 1989 through the night of September 21 and into the morning of September 22, Hurricane Hugo made landfall off the coast of Charleston as a Category 4 storm. With top winds of 140 miles per hour and a storm surge of nearly twenty feet, Hugo slammed into the Lowcountry coast with an intensity that rivaled few storms before it. In its wake, it left dozens dead and caused nearly $7 billion in damages in South Carolina. Recovery after the storm was difficult. One-and-a-half million people were without power. In downtown Charleston, up to 80 percent of roofs were damaged. 270,000 people were out of work and more than 60,000 were homeless. Help was slow to come if it came at all. Some labored without power for weeks while enormous trees blocked roads and down power lines endangered cleanup crews. But the spirit of the people did not waver. People came together as a community and not only rebuilt but rebuilt better than before Hugo.
In May 1990, Waterfront Park, with family-sized swings on the pier and its distinct sections opened. The sections, which are intertwined with both riverfront and off-the-water walking paths, are tied together by a spectacular pineapple-shaped fountain. I say it also resembles the Palmetto trees that are found throughout the park. This eight-acre park along approximately one-half mile of the Cooper River received the 2007 Landmark Award. With its romantic, engaging, serene, and perfectly picturesque location overlooking the Charleston Harbor and the Cooper River the park is a great place to slow down and take a moment or two to relax.
In 1993 the Charleston Battery soccer team was founded. The Battery is one of the oldest continuously operating professional soccer clubs in the United States. It is tied with the Richmond Kickers which were also founded in 1993. Charleston is one of the more successful lower division soccer clubs in the United States and the most successful club in the history of the unofficial Southern Derby competition with eight first-place finishes.
Made out of 40 feet of bulletproof iron, the H.L. Hunley was the world’s first successful combat submarine. However, shortly after sinking the USS Housatonic on February 17th, 1864, the Hunley vanished without a trace. The disappearance, one of the greatest mysteries in maritime history, baffled treasure hunters and history buffs as they searched in vain for the submarine. Then, the sunken civil war-era submarine Hunley was discovered about four miles off the coast of Sullivan’s Island in 1995. All eight crew members were eerily in position at their stations when the sub was discovered on the ocean floor. However, it wouldn’t be until August 8th, 2000 that she was gently lifted from her ocean grave and delivered to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center for study, excavation, and preservation. The actual Hunley is preserved and on display in a tank of water!
In 1997, the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park was built. Nicknamed “The Joe” by locals, the park is the home field of the Charleston RiverDogs baseball team of the Single-A South Atlantic League and The Citadel Bulldogs baseball team. Current MLB playersAaron Judge, Danny Burawa, Phil Hughes, David Robertson, Gary Sanchez, Austin Jackson, John Axford, Eduardo Núñez, and Phil Coke all played for the RiverDogs. Charleston players B. J. Upton, Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Delmon Young, Seth McClung, Josh Hamilton, Toby Hall, and Aubrey Huff, who all played for the RiverDogs, Sandy Alomar, Jr., Roberto Alomar, and Carlos Baerga who all played for the Rainbows, Fernando Tatís, and David Cone and John Candelaria who played for the Royals have also gone on to make a name for themselves in the majors.
Bill Murray, who owns a home in Charleston, is a RiverDogs co-owner. Maybe you’ll see him Down at The Joe or one of the local hangouts. He’s known to frequently stop in bars and restaurants around the city, often paying the tab of all its patrons!
Home to more than ten thousand plants and animals, the South Carolina Aquarium opened on May 19, 2000, on the historic Charleston Harbor. Extending from the first to the third floor the Great Ocean Tank is the largest exhibit at the aquarium and the deepest tank in North America. With more than 5,000 amazing animals, a sea turtle recovery center, touch tanks, daily dive shows, an educational garden, saltmarsh aviary, and more the aquarium educates and connects people with water, wildlife, and wild places.
Established in 1856 after a citywide ban on public slave auctions made private facilities necessary, slave auctions were held at the Old Slave Mart until approximately 1863. Believed to be the last extant slave auction facility in South Carolina, in 1975 the Old Slave Mart was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its role in Charleston’s African-American history. Working together the City of Charleston and the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission restored the Old Slave Mart in the late 1990s. The site opened again as a historic site and museum in 2007. Often staffed by individuals who can trace their history to Charleston slaves the museum now interprets the history of the city’s slave trade. Bringing slavery to horrifying life in a way few museums do, addressing such topics as the stigma attached to the slave-trading profession and how slaves were dressed, shaved, fed, and otherwise prepared for market day.
Charleston’s 300+ year history cannot be told without highlighting its military significance. From the arrival of early English settlers in 1670 to the Civil War and beyond, the Holy City has been defending her shores and showing her military might for centuries. The Charleston area has many iconic military sites, including the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter National Monument, the Charleston Navy Base and Naval Shipyard Memorial at North Charleston Riverfront Park, and Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.
“The Armory” exhibit at The Charleston Museum will surely be of interest to military history buffs. This permanent exhibit features weaponry dating back to 1750 and up to the 20th century. Explore the exhibit, and you’ll discover Revolutionary War and Civil War-era swords, along with weaponry and equipment from WWI and II. There is a museum located on The Citadel’s campus, it offers a deeper look inside its long and storied history. Graduates from The Citadel, Charleston’s historic military college, have fought in every American war since the Mexican War of 1846. And, no trip to Charleston is complete until you take a stroll along the Battery, Charleston’s defensive seawall and promenade.
Today our city is bursting with Southern charm and hospitality. Even though it offers some of the most modern amenities, is a leader in technology, and cutting-edge medical care the city feels a bit like it’s suspended in time thanks to the preservation of its rich history. I’ve lived here since 1971 and often find something new and exciting to see around this beautiful historic town.
So, grab a glass of iced tea and join us! We hope to see you around town.
“Mind Your Own Biscuits And Life Will Be Gravy”
Sometimes a quote serves to remind us what we already know.
fru·gal·i·ty – the quality of being economical with money or food; thriftiness.
Monday – Watermelon
Tuesday – Cornbread
Wednesday – Grits
Thursday – Moon Pies
Friday – Okra
Saturday – Catfish