|Charleston Hotel 1901|
In 1979 an Atlanta magazine described a Charleston unknown to us today. At that time, they wrote an article of an unflattering truth about Charleston's present ever-popular Historic District. It stated, "Downtown Charleston, in many ways, epitomizes the decaying American city." "We were dying," said a store owner on King Street by the name of Mariana Hay. "It was just a big blight. Downtown was really kind of a no-man's land." The new mayor of Charleston, Joe Riley, agreed with these conclusions and likened the downtown area to a poisoned ecosystem. The demolition of the 120-year-old Charleston Hotel on Meeting Street epitomized the city's decay. Downtown commerce was looking like the Ashley River in Summerville at low tide. Empty storefronts were common and pedestrian traffic was deficient for a thriving market. Property values on King Street headed south like today's Northerners.
Since my arrival in 2005, the growth has continued. At that time, there were only two bridges crossing the Cooper River with a view of the bay and skyline, one called the Silas Pearman Bridge and the other named the John P. Grace Memorial Bridge. They were two majestic icons that were feeling their age. I remember the first time I drove over the narrow bridges with both hands on the steering wheel accompanied by the uncomfortable feeling of possibly going over the edge. The old bridges eventually came down section by section and were replaced by the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. This year, March 31st, the new Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge will be covered with a sea of humanity in the 10k Cooper River Bridge Run starting at 8:00am. Taylor Hicks, Season 5 winner of American Idol, and his full band will perform on the Main Stage at the Finish Line.
|1939 Riviera Theater on King Street now a Conference Center|
|Busy King Street today|
|Chalmers Street is the longest surviving cobblestone street|