Back when I was in TV news, I often had to become an instant expert on complicated subjects. Case in point – TARP or the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Signed into law by President Bush at the start of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, this law helped prop up failing financial institutions. Sound boring? Try writing about it everyday for monthsI also had to become an instant expert on all things Charleston when I decided to become a real estate agent here because the last thing a buyer or seller wants is a broker who doesn’t know his or her stuff. I’ve learned lots of interesting things about my new home town that I’ve compiled into “The Top 10 Things You’ll Want to Know About Charleston” list.
10. CHARLESTON HAD THE COUNTRY’S VERY FIRST GOLF CLUB
It was called the South Carolina Golf Club and was founded in 1786. Members played on Harleston Green. This area is west of Rutledge Avenue between what is today Calhoun and Beaufain streets.
9. CHARLESTON HAS THE LONGEST CABLE-STAYED BRIDGE IN NORTH AMERICA
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, spans the Charleston Harbor. It connects downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant. The bridge is named after the former US congressman who is the cousin of our owner here at Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Realty.
8. CHARLESTON IS HOME TO THE COUNTRY’S SECOND OLDEST SYNAGOGUE BUILDING
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue is a National Historic Landmark built in 1840. Back then Charleston had one of the country’s largest Jewish populations. Today we have three Orthodox congregations, a Conservative synagogue and a Reform temple.
7. CHARLESTON WAS THE COUNTRY’S SLAVE TRADING CAPITAL
At the height of the slavery era about 40% of enslaved Africans brought to this country came through Charleston.
6. CHARLESTON IS HOME TO AMERICA’S FIRST MUSEUM
The Charleston Museum was founded in 1773. Established by the Charleston Library, it was opened to the general public in 1824.
5. CHARLESTON HAS THE SECOND BUSIEST PORT ON THE EAST COAST
It ranks right behind the New York / New Jersey Port. In 2015, the facility handled nearly $76 billion dollars of goods.
4. CHARLESTON BEGAN AS A COLONY OF BARBADOS
In the late 1600’s, the tropical island of Barbados located off the coast of Venezuela was a very bustling place. Because much of the land was used to grow sugar – known then as “white gold” – the island established an outpost in the Charleston area to grow crops and raise cattle.
3. CHARLESTON RANKS SECOND IN THE COUNTRY FOR DESTINATION WEDDINGS
Couples choose to say “I do” here because of our many historic and oceanfront venues, Southern charm and great restaurant scene. And in case you’re wondering, the number one spot goes to Las Vegas.
2. FOUR SIGNERS OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE WERE CHARLESTONIANS
Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, four hailed from Charleston. They were Arthur Middleton, Thomas Heyward Jr., Edward Rutledge and Thomas Lynch Jr.
1. CHARLESTON HAD THE COUNTRY’S FIRST FEMALE NEWSPAPER EDITOR AND PUBLISHER
When her husband died in 1738, Elizabeth Ann Timothy assumed control of the South Carolina Gazette. Known as someone who wasn’t afraid to tackle controversial issues, she also owned a stationery and bookstore on King Street.