Elements of Urbanism: Charleston, WV

March 17, 2009 15 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a look at the downtown core of West Virginia's Capitol city: Charleston.

Tale of the Tape:

Charleston Population 2007: 50,478 (City); 303,950 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1794)

Jacksonville Pop. 2007: 805,605 (City); 1,300,823 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Charleston (73,501)

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2000-2007)

Charleston: -1.84%

Jacksonville: +15.86%


Urban Area Population (2000 census)

Charleston: 182,991 (ranked 166 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 882,295 (ranked 43 nationwide)


Urban Area Population Density (2000 census)

Charleston: 1613.7
Jacksonville: 2,149.2


City Population Growth from 2000 to 2007

Charleston: -2,943
Jacksonville: +69,988


Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Charleston: Charleston Civic Center (1959, expanded 1980) - 52,000 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1986) - 78,500 square feet


Tallest Building:

Charleston: West Virginia State Capitol - 292 feet
Downtown Charleston: Kanawha Valley Building  - 265 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet


Downtown-Based Fortune 500 companies:

Charleston: Zero (0). There are no Fortune 500 companies in this state.
Jacksonville: CSX (261), Fidelity National Financial (435), Fidelity National Information Services (481)


Urban infill obstacles:

Charleston: Downtown turns its back to the Kanawha River.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.


What Downtown Charleston has that Downtown Jacksonville does not:

Charleston: Charleston Town Center, a three level successful regional shopping mall in the heart of the core.

Jacksonville: East Bay Street, located between Main Street and Liberty Street.  This four block stretch is home to four bars and clubs.


Common Downtown Albatross:

Significant areas of downtown littered with surface parking lots.


Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Charleston: 95 out of 100, according to walkscore.com
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to walkscore.com


Downtown Photo Tour

Photographs taken July 2008.



Capitol Street



Brawley Walkway


Charleston Town Center


Unique Charleston

  • Virginia seceded from the union, although the western part was under Union control. Thus in 1863, a proclamation by Abraham Lincoln resulted in West Virginiga becoming an official state.
  • Charleston is within a day's drive of 60 percent of the U.S. population.
  • Charleston Town Center was the largest urban mall, east of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1983.
  • The Charleston City Council has 27 members.
  • Notable companies founded in Charleston include Shoney's restaurants and Heck's/L.A. Joe discount department stores.
  • Notable people who have lived in the Charleston area include Jennifer Garner (actress), T.D. Jakes (televangelist), Randy Moss (football player), Jason Williams (basketball player), Booker T. Washington (Civil Rights leader) and Jerry West (basketball player).



Article by Ennis Davis