CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – It’s Wednesday and that means it is time to explore the history that surrounds the Lowcountry. This week, we look at the Pineapple Fountain in Downtown Charleston.
What is now a focal point of Waterfront Park was once a gravel parking lot with overgrown trees. In 1979, former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley acquired land that would soon become the iconic park downtown.
The city broke ground in 1988 and the $13 million project was expected to be completed on May 4th, 1990, but the project was put on hold when Hurricane Hugo made landfall in Charleston County on September 21st, 1989.
Uprooted trees and widespread flooding in a city that is already below sea level destroyed the fountain with storm damage amounting to $1 million.
With hard work and determination, the park was completed less than a year after the storm and opened to the public on May 11th, 1990.
“We couldn’t miss a deadline,” said Mayor Riley during an interview with News 2 last year. “We had picked 86 oak trees; I actually went to the farm up in Orangeburg with our people to go and pick out the 86 that would be really nice. And then they were planted- Hugo came and wiped them all out. Gone. The block was set to open in May, and we had to find 86 new oak trees.”
He went on to say, “I knew it was important to the community – that they knew we succeeded, that we got our park. So, we worked nonstop, and it opened in May- less than a year after the storm. A part of this is community spirit and confidence – we’re gonna do this, we made it.”
The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality, which represents a part of Charleston well after being ranked the No. 1 U.S. city, according to the Travel + Leisure magazine’s “World’s Best” awards last year.
During hot summer days you can see children (and sometimes grown-ups) splashing in the fountain.