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Charleston, South Carolina

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This year Charleston, SC is celebrating its 350th anniversary. Its first group of immigrants settled at Albemarle Point in 1670,

By 1672, a half-dozen settlers were given land grants near Oyster Point.

Charleston's 1776 defenses

Above is a copy of a 1777 map, “The Harbour of Charles Town in South Carolina from the Surveys of Sr. Jas. Wallace Captn. in his Majesty’s Navy & others with a view of the Town from the South Shore of the Ashley River.” It shows the peninsula fortified by palmetto logs.

Jim Booth painting of Charleston, SC

This scene and battery continues to capture artistic hands. Above is a Jim Booth painting during the Age of Tall Ships.

Charleston Harbor Painting - Charleston Battery Watercolor by Dan Sproul

Joseph Dalton, a member of the town’s governing council, wrote to Lord Ashley Cooper that the peninsula seemed “very healthy being free from any noisome vapors and the Sumer long refreshed with Coole breathing from the sea.”

Charleston Harbor Painting - Audubon Curlew by Granger

I’m rereading parts of Walter Edgar’s South Carolina and suddenly was stopped by a poem written in 1769 by sea captain Captain Martin.

“This is Charles-town, how do you like
it.” 1769.
Poem by the captain of a British warship, 1769.
Black and white all mix’d together,
Inconstant, strange, unhealthful weather
Burning heat and chilling cold
Dangerous both to young and old
Boisterous winds and heavy rains
Fevers and rheumatic pains
Agues plenty without doubt
Sores, boils, the prickling heat and gout
Musquitos on the skin make blotches
Centipedes and large cock-roaches
Frightful creatures in the waters
Porpoises, sharks and alligators
Houses built on barren land
No lamps or lights, but streets of sand
Pleasant walks, if you can find ’em
Scandalous tongues, if any mind ’em
The markets dear and little money
Large potatoes, sweet as honey
Water bad, past all drinking
Men and women without thinking
Every thing at a high price
But rum, hominy and rice
Many a widow not unwilling
Many a beau not worth a shilling
Many a bargain, if you strike it,
This is Charles-town, how do you like it.

My parents married at the Summerall Chapel on the Citadel campus, and so did my brother. I was born in Charleston, and John and I honeymooned there. This city is my go-to place, whether walking on the Battery or on the beaches. I love the historic churches, the handmade baskets, and watching the artists painting on the sidewalks. Reading a book that takes place in Charleston is a piece of heaven to me.

Author Pat Conroy wrote, “There is no city on Earth quite like Charleston. From the time I first came there in 1961, it’s held me in its enchanter’s power, the wordless articulation of its singularity, its withheld and magical beauty. Wandering through its streets can be dreamlike and otherworldly, its alleyways and shortcuts both fragrant and mysterious, yet as haunted as time turned in on itself.”

Happy birthday, Charleston!