A look back at Charleston history for the city’s 350th Birthday


CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Today is a special day for the Holy City as Charleston celebrates its 350th birthday today, April 18.

Charleston was founded in 1670 as Charles Town to honor King Charles II of England. In 1680, Charleston would become the fifth-largest city in North America within 10 years of its founding.

Charleston adopted its present spelling with its incorporation as a city in 1783 at the end of the Revolutionary War. Population growth led to the move of the state government from Charleston to Columbia in 1788, but Charleston remained one of the ten largest cities in the United States through the 1840 census.

Charleston has also faced some its share of adversity through its history.

A spark ignited at the corner of King and Beresford Streets, which led to a large fire on April 27, 1838. The fire destroyed around 150 acres, at least a quarter of the city at the time. Over 1,100 buildings were lost in the flames. Estimated loses were at over $3 million.

On April 12, 1861, the first shots of the American Civil War were fired above Fort Sumter, which is now one of the most famous historical locations in the Lowcountry.

An earthquake with a magnitude in the range of 6.9-7.3 hit the Holy City on August 31, 1886 causing massive damage. The earthquake caused 60 deaths and around $6 million worth of damage.

Hurricane Hugo is a storm that many in the Lowcountry will never forget. It was a Category 4 Hurricane that hit Charleston on September 22, 1989 with 140 mph sustained winds. It led to 27 casualties in South Carolina, left nearly 100,000 people homeless, and caused around $9 billion worth of damage, which made it the most damaging hurricane ever recorded at the time.

Despite the many obstacles, Charleston has blossomed into an incredible tourist destination. The city was ranked the best city in the world by Travel + Leisure Magazine in 2016 and saw nearly 7.3 million visitors in 2019 to bring the total economic impact of tourism past a record of $8 billion.

Charleston, through the ups and downs, is a beautiful city and we can’t wait to see what the next 350 years have in store.

Happy birthday Charleston!

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