Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Charleston (South Carolina)

CHARLESTON, a city, port of entry, and county-seat of Charleston co., S. C.; the first city in population and importance in the State, situated at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers, 7 miles from the ocean. Charleston has one of the safest and most commodious harbors in the United States, with a depth at the inner harbor of over 40 feet and 22 feet at low water on the bar. It is defended by Forts Sumter and Moultrie and Batteries Sergt. Jasper and Capron. Two bridges connect the city with the W. shore of the Ashley river. Area, 5½ square miles; pop. (1910) 58,833; (1920) 67,957.

Topography.—The city is built on a peninsula at an average elevation of 8 to 10 feet above high water. The streets are generally at right angles, and four, King and Meeting streets, and Rutledge and Ashley avenues, run N. and S. the entire length of the city. The former is the principal retail street. At its S. extremity is a beautiful park, named White Point Garden, and to the E. of this is the Battery, a broad esplanade, 1,500 feet long, and affording a grand view of the harbor and forts. The public buildings are grouped about the intersection of Meeting and Broad streets, and consist of the court house, a substantial brick building; the City Hall, an imposing structure, entered by a double flight of steps, and the new Postoffice, a magnificent four-story building of Carolina granite, with a tower and all modern appliances, costing about $500,000. The United States Custom house, near Market wharf on the Cooper river, is a magnificent building, having cost $3,000,000. In front of the City Hall is Washington Park, containing two handsome fountains and a statue of William Pitt, erected before the Revolution. One of the arms was shot off by the English in 1780. There is also a monument to the Confederate dead.

Manufactures.—The principal industries are fertilizers, textiles, foundries, machinery, carriages, furniture, flour, lumber, and clothing. In 1914 there were 190 plants with a capital of $29,268,513; products, $36,663,945, with 14,437 wage earners receiving as salaries and wages $10,383,087.

Commerce.—The commerce of Charleston is extensive. The chief exports are cotton, cotton goods, cigars, tobacco, fruits, vegetables, lumber, and fertilizers. The total commerce for 1916 was $320,048,883.

Banks.—In 1918 there were 19 National, savings, and State banks, with aggregate capital and surplus of $5,077,899; deposits of $31,002,632; and resources of $40,367,069. The annual bank clearings exceed $175,000,000.

Education.—There are 20 buildings devoted to school purposes, with 241 teachers, and 7,818 pupils. The annual expenditures are $291,324. For higher education there are the College of Charleston, the Military College of South Carolina, the Medical College of South Carolina, and a number of high, normal, and technical schools.

Churches and Charitable Institutions.—Charleston has over 80 churches. The most prominent are St. Michael's, built in 1752-1761, with a tower which can be seen several miles out at sea; St. Philip's (P. E.), the first church built in the city, in the graveyard of which lie the remains of John C. Calhoun; the Circular Church (Congregational), and St. Finbar's Cathedral, rebuilt in 1890. Other noteworthy churches are Grace (P. E.), Westminster (Presbyterian), Citadel Square (Baptist), the Old Huguenot, Unitarian, Bethel and Trinity Methodist, and the Hebrew Synagogue. The most prominent charitable institutions are the Orphan House, founded in 1792, the oldest of its kind in the United States; the Enston Home for the Aged; Home for Widows and Daughters of the Confederate Soldiers; the City and the Roper Hospitals; the Alms House, and the Old Folks' Home for Aged Colored People. Among charitable societies are St. Andrew's Society, founded by Scotchmen in 1720, the oldest society in the city, and the South Carolina Society, founded by the Huguenots in 1736, formerly the Two-Bit Club, so called from the sum contributed by each member at each meeting, for the relief of the indigent among themselves.

Finances.—In 1919 the funded debt was $4,118,000. The total assessed realty valuation was $16,551,978. The budget was $921,758. The tax rate was 3.35.

History.—Charleston was founded in 1670, receiving from France about 1685 a large influx of Protestant refugees. It was taken by the British in 1780, but evacuated in 1782, It was here that the first open movement was made in favor of secession. In 1860 and 1861 the harbor was the scene of several conflicts, and Fort Sumter was reduced to ruins. The harbor was blockaded in 1861, and several dismantled hulks were filled with stones and sunk in order to prevent passage. In August, 1863, the city was bombarded, and in February, 1865, after 565 days of continuous military operations, during which period 2,550 shells reached the city, it was occupied by Federal troops. On Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, 1886, the city was partially destroyed by an earthquake. Earth tremblings continued for some months thereafter, but with indomitable energy the city was soon restored to its former beauty and prosperity. On Dec. 1, 1901, a South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition was opened here.

Collier's 1921 Charleston.jpg
© Ewing Galloway