Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Brief History of Charleston...

A long time ago, a bunch of white guys from Europe came over in smelly boats, stole the land from the native people, and then largely killed them off. Then the white guys imported a different bunch of native people from another continent, and made those people do all the really hard work. No, you won't read that in the real history books, but that pretty much sums it up. Happily, Charles Towne has never stopped trying to improve upon itself, and grown to be a true Grand Old Lady of the South.
It is impossible to walk or drive around town without bumping into some fascinating history along the way.
Barb and I always make it a point to get to know some local history wherever we journey to, and let me tell you there's plenty of it here! Just about each and every building has some historic significance. The Bureau of Architectural Review was established in 1931, and decreed that any building that is 75 years or older, cannot be torn down. So, yes, each year more buildings are added, but far more importantly, these buildings are also being restored to show their beautiful heritage.
everyone knows of the great earthquake in San Francisco, but did you know that before that, in 1886, Charleston had it's own earthquake and fire? The locals here had a clever idea to help strengthen the remaining buildings. In between the floors, they would attach bolts thru the length, and width, and secure them with nuts to tighten them up. So you see a lot of these black discs in between the floors of a lot of the property here. But in the oh oops category, years after some engineer type realized that they had all tightened the screws too much! So now, if another tembler rolls thru town, those are the buildings you really, really don't want to be in. Oh, oops.
And if you're the sort that enjoys Churches and Cathedrals, you will be in heaven here (all puns included). With about 90 different churches in Charleston, there is a wide variety of faith, and also history. You will also want to look at the link for Churches of Charleston, simply breathtaking.
But I suppose that were wondering when I would get around to the War Between the States, or the War of Aggression by the North? Yup, that's what they call the Civil War down here. And yes, they do have a rather different opinion as to it's causes than do the folks that live North of the Mason Dixon Line. Be that as it may, the opening volley of that conflict was right here in the harbor. Then towards the end of the war, when Charlestin was under seige by the Union, the very first submarine successful attack was performed by the CSS HL Hunley. It was to be a "one and done" however, as shortly after the submarine sank a war sloop, it too sunk under mysterious circumstance.
But going back before the war, you probably didn't know that Charleston was one of the most affluent cities in the State. In fact, there was far more wealth accumulated here than in New York city! This was largely due to rice plantations, and the back breaking labor done by slaves. Ironically, the slaves on the Rice Plantations were actually treated better than on other plantations, which could tend towards brutality of punishment. On a rice growing and producing facility, if you worked towards a certain daily quota, then you could even get a day off! Unheard of really. but after the end oof the war, and the slaves were freed, no one could operate the rice paddies at any where near a profit. Somehow I think that the former slaves were just fine with that.

1 comment:

  1. There will be a follow up coming along as really charleston didn't just stop during the Civil War...