Elements of Urbanism: Charleston 2009

September 21, 2009 11 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville takes a look at a city that has built an economy out of the preservation of history.

Tale of the Tape:

Charleston Pop. 2008: 111,978 (City); 630,100 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1670)

Jacksonville Pop. 2008: 807,815 (City); 1,313,228 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); Charleston (70,174)

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2000-2008)

Charleston: +14.78%
Jacksonville: +16.97%

Urban Area Population (2000 census)

Charleston: 423,410 (ranked 75 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 882,295 (ranked 43 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2000 census)

Charleston: 1,833.4 people per square mile
Jacksonville: 2,149.2 people per square mile

City Population Growth from 2000 to 2008

Charleston: +15,328
Jacksonville: +72,312

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

Charleston: Charleston Area Convention Center (1999)  - 135,000 square feet*
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1986) - 78,500 square feet

*- Charleston's convention center is located in the suburb of North Charleston

Attached to Convention Center:

Charleston: Embassy Suites North Charleston - Airport Hotel & Convention Center (225 rooms)
Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building:

Charleston: St. Matthew's Lutheran Church - 297 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet

Downtown Fortune 500 companies:

Charleston: There are no Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Charleston.
Jacksonville: CSX (240)

Urban infill obstacles:

Charleston: Incorporating fixed mass transit into the urban core and extending sustainable development to the "Neck."
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.

Downtown Nightlife:

Charleston: The French Quarter, King Street
Jacksonville: East Bay Street, located between Main Street and Liberty Street.

Common Downtown Albatross:

A lack of fixed mass transit options that connect downtown with other neighborhoods and districts.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

Charleston: 94 out of 100 (Downtown Charleston as keyword)
Jacksonville: 95 out of 100, according to walkscore.com (Downtown Jacksonville as keyword)

The French Quarter

Charleston's French Quarter is home to many fine historic buildings, among them, the Pink House Tavern, built around 1712, and the Slave Mart, built by Z.B.Oakes in 1859. Also in the French Quarter are the Dock Street Theatre, arguably the first site of theatrical productions in the United States, and the French Huguenot Church, a beautiful Gothic-style church which houses the sole-surviving French Calvinist Congregation in the United States.

South of Broad

The Antebellum mansions with gated European-style gardens and historic landmarks such as Rainbow Row, The Battery and White Point Gardens are distinctly "South of Broad." Anyone who has ever seen the real estate and streetscapes located South of Broad Street, understands why it is among the most photographed places in the greater Charleston, South Carolina area. Renovations and new construction South of Broad must be approved by Charleston's architectural review board and comply with stringent historic preservation standards ensuring the Holy City's character remains unchanged.

South of Broad homes are highly sought after for their unique historic characteristics. The various architectural styles exhibited in South of Broad homes include Victorian, Italianate, Colonial and Greek Revival influences that have been collected over centuries.

Any resident living South of Broad street is within walking distance to some of the best shops, restaurants and entertainment on the Charleston peninsula. The theatres, King Street shops, parks and world famous restaurants found South of Broad are as unique as the homes.

College of Charleston

Founded in 1770 and chartered in 1785, the College of Charleston is the oldest institution of higher education in South Carolina, and the 13th oldest in the United States.

Several of the College’s founders played key roles in the American Revolution and in the creation of the new republic. Three were signers of the Declaration of Independence and another three were framers of the U.S. Constitution.

The College of Charleston has restored numerous historical houses which house classrooms.

Port of Charleston

The Port of Charleston consists of five terminals. Three are on the Harbor and the other two are on the Cooper River just north of Charleston's bustling harbor. The port is ranked number one in customer satisfaction across North America by supply chain executives. Port activity, behind tourism, is the leading source of Charleston's revenue.

A new terminal is being built on the former Naval Station, in the City of North Charleston, to accommodate the growing needs of the port.

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge across the Cooper River opened on July 16, 2005, and is the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Americas. The bridge links Mount Pleasant with downtown Charleston, and has eight lanes and a 12-foot lane shared by pedestrians and bicycles. It replaced the Grace Memorial Bridge (built in 1929) and the Silas N. Pearman Bridge (built in 1966). They were considered two of the more dangerous bridges in America and were demolished after the Ravenel Bridge opened.

Marion Square

The Square is the home to many monuments, including a Holocaust memorial and a statue of John C. Calhoun atop a giant pillar. During the summer the square is also the home to a farmers market on Saturdays and various festivals such as the Food and Wine Festival and the renowned Spoleto Arts Festival.

Photos by Daniel Herbin