Originally named Charles Towne, in honor of King Charles II, the city of Charleston was settled in 1670 by the English on the banks of the Ashley River in an area known as Albermarle Point. The city was moved to its present location on Oyster Point in 1680 and Charleston adopted its present name in 1783.
Downtown Charleston overflows with picturesque history, old world charm and southern gentility. A peninsula bounded on the east by the Cooper River and on the west by the Ashley River, the historic areas of the city have been preserved like few cities in the U.S.
A stroll down the cobblestone streets of the historic district will reveal luxury hotels, bed and breakfasts, charming inns, world class restaurants and unique shopping opportunities. Here you'll find Catfish Row, from Dubose Heyward's renowned novel and the famous opera, Porgy and Bess. The city has also played an important part in such movies as Gone with the Wind, North and South and The Patriot.
A visit to historic downtown Charleston would not be complete without a memorable carriage ride through the city's quaint and narrow streets or a visit to one of the numerous historic house museums. If you walk the streets of Charleston, you'll follow the path of revolutionaries, patriots, pirates and planters. Come explore the city firsthand and learn the history and legends of one of the oldest, most well-preserved cities in America. The historic house museums include the Aiken-Rhett House, the Calhoun Mansion, the Edmondston-Alston House, the Thomas Elfe House, the Heyward-Washington House, the Joseph Manigault House and the Nathaniel Russell House.
Downtown Charleston boasts a number of historical firsts including America's first free library in 1698... the first mutual fire insurance company in 1735... the first opera in American was performed in Charleston on February 18, 1735... the Charleston Chamber of Commerce, established in 1773, was the first city Chamber of Commerce in America... the Charleston Museum, America's first public museum, was organized on January 12, 1773... the first fireproof building was built in Charleston in 1822 and the College of Charleston, America's first municipal college, opened April 1, 1838.
In 2011, Charleston was named #1 U.S. City by Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards and the #2 Best City in the U.S. and Canada by Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards. Also in 2011, Bon Apetit magazine named Husk, located on Queen Street in Charleston, the Best New Restaurant in America. America's most-published etiquette expert, Marjabelle Young Stewart, recognized Charleston as the "best-mannered" city in the U.S., a claim leant credibility by the fact that it has the first established Livability Court in the country. In 2011, Travel and Leisure Magazine named Charleston "America's Sexiest City" as well as "America's Most Friendly." Subsequently, Southern Living Magazine named Charleston "the most polite and hospitable city in America." In 2012, Travel and Leisure voted Charleston as the second best-dressed city in America, only behind New York City.
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