Introduction to Charleston, South Carolina

The second-largest city in the state of South Carolina is the city of Charleston, which serves as the county seat of Charleston County. Founded in 1670 by English settlers, the city was originally named Charles Towne after King Charles II of England. The original capital of the Carolina colony, Charleston marked the southernmost point of English settlement during the late 1600s. Although its earliest settlers primarily came from England, colonial Charleston also became home to a combination of ethnic and religious groups, owing to its prominence as a developing seaport town. Incorporated as a city in 1783, Charleston was to play an active role in the Civil War almost a century later, when it was more or less under siege by Union naval and land forces for three years. Twenty years after the war, Charleston was nearly destroyed by an 1886 earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale. Despite these setbacks, Charleston survived and prospered and many of Charleston's historic buildings remain intact to this day. Present-day Charleston has become the largest business and financial center for the southeastern section of South Carolina and an important South Atlantic seaport.

Charleston is served by two interstate highways (Interstates 26 and 526), four major U.S. Highways, and seven major South Carolina state highways. The city is home to the College of Charleston, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the Citadel, among other institutions of higher education. As of 2004, the largest employer in the Charleston metropolitan area is SPAWAR (the US Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command).

Attractions in Charleston

Throughout its history, Charleston has served as a cultural capital of the South. Visual arts are well represented here with the Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston's premier art museum, in addition to numerous art galleries. Each spring, Charleston is host to Spoleto Festival U.S.A., a 17-day art festival featuring a variety of artistic performances. Other annual events include the Moja African-American Arts Festival, the Worldfest Charleston International Film Festival, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, the Christmas Parade of Boats, and the Christmas in Charleston Celebration.

As an early colonial city, Charleston is replete with museums and historical attractions. The Old Exchange and Customs House in downtown Charleston ranks with Boston's Faneuil Hall and Philadelphia's Independence Hall as one of the three most important Colonial buildings in the country. Charleston is also home to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, and Fort Moultrie, the site of a critical British defeat in the Revolutionary War. Patriot's Point, located across the river in nearby Mount Pleasant, is home to the USS Yorktown and several other naval vessels. Other museums and historical sites include:

  • The Charleston Museum: The oldest museum in the nation.
  • American Military Museum
  • Children's Museum of the Lowcountry
  • Edisto Island Museum
  • Karpeles Manuscript Museum
  • Postal Museum
  • Shem Creek Maritime Museum
  • Summerville Dorchester Museum
  • The Citadel Museum
  • The Confederate Museum

Typical of coastal cities, recreation in Charleston focuses on water. The city's eight-acre Waterfront Park attracts many visitors annually and is a popular destination for residents as well. Charleston is home to numerous parks, including Beachwalker Park, Folly Beach County Park, Isle of Palms County Park, James Island County Park, North Charleston Wannamaker County Park, Old Santee Canal Park, and Palmetto Islands County Park, just to name a few. Charleston's mild climate makes tennis and golf year-round sports, and the city is home to 40 tennis courts and a municipal golf course. Nature lovers can visit Charleston's South Carolina Aquarium, the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, or Angel Oak, a 65-foot tall 1,400-year old oak tree which provides a 17,000 square foot area of shade.

Although there are currently no major league professional sports teams in the city of Charleston, the city has several minor league teams. The Charleston RiverDogs are a Minor League Baseball Club playing in the South Atlantic League. The RiverDogs are the single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. The South Carolina Stingrays, who play in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), are an affiliate of the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals. The Charleston Battery is a pro soccer team playing in the United Soccer League (USL). They play their games at Blackbaud Stadium, the first privately-funded stadium in the United States devoted specifically to soccer. The newest addition to the Charleston pro sports scene is the Charleston Sandsharks, formerly of the National Indoor Football League, who will be playing their 2007 season as members of the World Indoor Football League.


Total Population 127,694
Male Share of the Population 47.4%
Female Share of the Population 52.6%
Senior Citizens 13.2%
Employed Population 16+ 65,980
Age of the Population 34


% of people married 39.1%
Average household size 2

Education and Earnings

Population % with Bachelor Degree or Higher 49.5%
Median Earnings25+ $38,558
Median Earnings Without High School Qualification $15,424
Median Earnings With High School Degree $25,578


Median Family Income $77,816
% Above Poverty Level 82.2%
% Below Poverty Level 17.8%

Commute & Sprawl

Average Commute Time 22 minutes
% Working from Home 5.4%
% Walking and Biking to Work 8.8%
% Using Public Transportation 1.8%


People Living Alone 35%
Median Gross Rent $1,022
Median House Value $255,600


Other(often includes Hispanic and African American) 30.1%
US/American 0.1%
English 11.3%
Irish 11.2%

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Charleston Almanac

Category Value
Nearest Large City 177 miles S of Charlotte, North Carolina
County Charleston
Metro Area Charleston - North Charleston
Standard Zip Codes 29401, 29403, 29404, 29405, 29406, 29407, 29412, 29414, 29418, 29420, 29424, 29425, 29492
P.O. Box Zip Codes 29402, 29410, 29413, 29415, 29416, 29417, 29419, 29422, 29423
Company Zip Codes 29409
Phone Area Codes 843
Time Zone Eastern (-5 hours from GMT)
Daylight Savings The city observes Daylight Saving Time.
Latitude 32.776
Longitude -79.931

Charleston Climate

Nearest Weather Stations


  • Temp ranges are avg daily min and max for the month
  • Precipitation is rainfall (and rainfall equiv of snowfall)

Distance 0.5 miles
Jan Temp 42 to 57 F
Apr Temp 59 to 73 F
Jul Temp 77 to 89 F
Oct Temp 62 to 75 F
Annual Precip 46.3 inches
Distance 4.8 miles
Jan Temp 38 to 57 F
Apr Temp 54 to 72 F
Jul Temp 74 to 89 F
Oct Temp 58 to 76 F
Annual Precip 49.3 inches
Distance 32.9 miles
Jan Temp 34 to 59 F
Apr Temp 49 to 77 F
Jul Temp 69 to 93 F
Oct Temp 52 to 77 F
Annual Precip 51 inches

Neighborhood and Nearby Area Names

According to the US Postal Service, Charleston, its neighborhoods, and/or surrounding areas are also referred to as:

Cainhoy (29492)

Charleston Heights (29418)

Chas (29406, 29407, 29410, 29412, 29413, 29414, 29415, 29417, 29418, 29419, 29420, 29423, 29424, 29425, 29401, 29402, 29403, 29404, 29405)

Daniel Island (29492)

James Island (29412)

Pinehaven (29405)

Wando (29492)

Note that not all alternate names are acceptable for use in US Post Office addresses.

Nearby Cities and Towns

Location Population Median Family Income
Folly Beach 2,715 $113,108
Goose Creek 39,408 $65,797
Isle of Palms 4,274 $110,398
Kiawah Island 1,432 $145,417
Mount Pleasant 74,952 $102,068
North Charleston 104,146 $46,801

Source: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015, www.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/.

Charleston Public Libraries

Charleston County Public Library
Charleston, South Carolina
(843) 805-6801
Library Web Site

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More Information for Librarians

Charleston Hospitals

(Government - State)
(843) 792-2300
Emergency Service: Yes

(Voluntary non-profit - Private)
(843) 724-2800
Emergency Service: Yes

(843) 797-8800
Emergency Service: Yes

(Voluntary non-profit - Church)
(843) 402-1006
Emergency Service: Yes

(Government - State)
(843) 792-2300
Emergency Service: Yes

Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
109 Bee Street
(843) 577-5011 or (888) 878-6884
Emergency Service:

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Charleston High Schools

(Sorted by Number of Students)

Serves 2,191 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 15.8

A Charter School.
Serves 1,550 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 15.5

A Title I School.
Serves 701 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 15.3

Serves 114 students.
Student/teacher ratio: 7.1

Additional Details
Charleston Colleges
Charleston colleges and trade schools.
Charleston Graduate Schools
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Charleston Careers
Charleston career and employment information.
Study Online in Charleston
Historic Charleston


U.S. Custom House c1900.

Select a photo to view (Source):

U.S. Custom House c1900.

St. Philip's Church c1900.

St. Michael's Church. between 1900 and 1910

Additional Resources
Info for Charleston Government Officials

Are you an official in the Charleston government or quasi-government agency such as the chamber of commerce, visitors bureau or economic development council? If so, visit our information page for government officials to see how CityTownInfo can support you.

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