Monday, May 24, 2010

The Old City Market-Important To The Charleston Experience

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig, home again, home again, jiggety jig. To market, to market, to buy a fat hog, home again, home again, jiggety jog. To market, to market, to buy a plum bun, home again, home again, market is done. This nursery rhyme came to mind when I thought of writing about the Old City Market. Now I don't know about buying fat pigs, fat hogs, and plum bun, but the Old City Market originally sold foodstuffs, including meat, fish and fresh produce grown locally.

Today, the City Market is definitely the center of attention and on any given day, especially the warmer months with cruises in port and tourists in abundance, quite crowded. Many of the carriage rides begin their tours here and on both sides of the Old Market numerous specialty shops and restaurants cater to the many visitors needs and wants. Locally crafted sweetgrass baskets, clothing, artwork, jewelry, local souvenirs, perfumes, food, T-shirts, and other gift items are displayed by numerous vendors.

Coming down Meeting Street from the interstate there is no mistaking you have arrived at Old City Market because Market Hall stands out rather distintively compared to the surrounding structures. It was built in 1841 from a design by Edward Brickwell White and is a copy of the Temple of the Wingless Victory in Athens, Greece. Charles Cotsworth Pinckney ceded the land to the City of Charleston in 1788. So far his wishes that a public market be built on the site and remain in use as a public market into perpetuity has been honored. The low buildings that stretch from Market Hall to the waterfront have survived fires, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and bombardment.

Even now, as a resident, when taking new visitors or relatives to Charleston I invariably end up at the Old City Market like it is "Go" on the Monopoly Board. All my favorite restaurants and sites are a short walking distance. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co is there with their "Bucket of Boat Trash" and at one time offered you a chance to embarass yourself or show off your hula hoop skills at its entrance. Around the corner on East Bay Street is Southend Brewery where I stop for a sidewalk lunch and sample their great microbrews. Charleston Place, one of Charleston's finest hotel venues graces this area and also the Market Pavillion Hotel with its rooftop bar overlooking the Market where on a hot, humid evening you can catch the slight breeze coming off the bay while leisurely consuming a cool alchoholic concockshun.

The Old City Market is an intricate piece of the Charleston experience. Parking can be a challenge and patience is a must if you are looking to park on one of the streets, but there are lots and parking garages in the area as an alternative. By the way, if you see a man hosing down the street creating a sudsy, foamy looking substance, don't ask him what he is doing. Looking forward to seeing you hobnobbing around beautiful Charleston.-Vacation Rick Travel Charleston

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