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Why Not Charleston?

“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler….Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.”  

Roman Payne

NIGHTLIGHTS, CHARLESTON
NIGHTLIGHTS, CHARLESTON

There are some amazing places in this world, many of which I’ve seen and loved, some still on my bucket list. When considering great cities, places like New York, San Francisco, Paris, Rome, Vienna, Buenos Aires, Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong……well those and many more come to mind. Having been to and loved all of them, I am compelled to add just one more – my humble home city of Charleston, South Carolina.

SWEETGRASS ART
SWEETGRASS ART

“The city does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand.”

Italo Calvino

Asked by Accor Hotels to participate in their Three Things I Love About My Favorite City competition, I thought about all of the places I’ve been and the amazing people and sites I’ve seen along the way. At the end of it all, I found myself still in love with my adopted home city, Charleston SC.  What is it about Charleston that keeps me enthralled after 15 years? My challenge is not to come up with three things, rather it is to narrow my long list down to only three!

First, I suppose I would have to mention Charleston’s place in HISTORY.

SKYLINE VIEW
CHARLESTON, THE HOLY CITY

“The city buildings in the distance are holding up the sky, it seems.”

Markus Zusak

Although Europeans and Asians would laugh at our view of history, in fact as US cities go, Charleston has quite a place of honor. We are the home of the first shot of the American Civil War, which at 750,000 deaths is still the deadliest US war. North fought South and brothers fought brothers, nearly tearing our country in two. One of the contributing issues was a radically different belief in the right to own slaves. As a major port city during those times, many Africans were first delivered via slave markets in Charleston. Today, the Gullah culture remains as a strong reminder of those African roots, carefully preserved by the descendents of those early slaves. The sweetgrass basket pictured previously is one of many traditional art forms which can be seen throughout the city. In addition, Charleston (known as the Holy City) is home to over 100 churches specifically because of her religious tolerance during a time when such freedom was hard to find. The city was an early home to Hugenots and Jews among others, fleeing persecution in their countries of birth. Many of their houses of worship remain today.

ON THE WATER
ON THE WATER

“A city is more than a place in space, it is a drama in time.”

Patrick Geddes

Next, I would point to LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. Charleston is situated along the eastern seaboard of the southern US, on a peninsula formed by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers. Although our summers can be extremely hot and humid, ocean breezes provide relief from the worst of them. Tropical flowers like jessamine and oleander add color and fragrance to the air, and stately live oak trees with hanging Spanish moss shade many of our cobblestone streets. Graceful egrets and herons are plentiful year round, and friendly river dolphin are frequently seen meandering along our shores. Shrimping takes place from November through May, providing a delicious fresh catch to our many wonderful restaurants – contributing to Charleston’s reputation as a mecca among foodies nationwide.

THREE LIVE OAKS
THREE LIVE OAKS

“A city is not adorned by external things, but by the virtue of those who dwell in it.”

Epictetus

Finally, and most importantly, I submit there is no city anywhere more charming than Charleston. Yes, SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY is real, and very much alive here in Charleston. Our little city of roughly 125,000 people has received so many awards they are difficult to count. Among them, Friendliest City in the US, Top City in the US and Canada, Top Travel Destination in the World, Best Place to Retire – the list goes on and on. Why so many awards for a relatively inconsequential city? For so many reasons, but chief among them, I believe, the residents and their incredible southern charm. Here, the people smile and say hello as you walk down the street, they say please and thank you, they welcome you into their homes and businesses, they assume the best and cause you to deliver it back. I submit a small example from my personal experience.  When I first moved to Charleston I was on my way to a large, sold out performance at a major downtown facility. When I realized I’d left my tickets at home and didn’t have time to retrieve them and still make the performance, I called the venue. I was told it would be no problem, simply report to the ticket counter upon arrival, show them my drivers license and they would show me to my seat. Try THAT in any of the other cities on the list and let me know how it goes!

CITY HALL, CHARLESTON
CITY HALL, CHARLESTON

 “A city is not an accident but the result of coherent visions and aims.”

Leon Krier
I love Charleston for so many reasons, her history, location and her people tops among them. A lively jazz scene, great restaurants, historic plantations, thriving colleges, charming antique shops and wonderful medical care are a few of the others. One early evening stroll along Charleston’s Battery, warm breezes blowing the scent of jasmine as dolphins swim along the river beside the antebellum mansions might convince you to love her too. With thanks to Accor Hotels for their invitation, I submit Charleston, South Carolina as My Favorite City – Why Not?!
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92 thoughts on “Why Not Charleston? Leave a comment

  1. I have to admit, I will be quite biased here as well ~ Charleston is simply one of those mythical cities for me (thank you Tina Schell and Pat Conroy)…and now you paint it so beautifully with these words and images.

    It is a bit strange to compare history of any city in the US to Europe or Asia, but in this case it really does ring true. The architecture and culture seem so vibrant ~ both in photo and prose, and the beauty of the city is so well known as is the charm of its locals. The Three Live Oaks shot is one of those perfect shots that could be today or centuries ago ~ I too vote for Charleston on your list (and what a great list it is…). Cheers to a great weekend.

    • Thanks Randall. It’s a city that’s hard not to love after getting to know it! As for 3 live oaks, it’s been my biggest seller so I’m Particularly fond of it 😊. To be honest, it would have been my favorite even if it weren’t a big seller LOL.

      Sent from my iPad

      >

  2. Very nice photographs Tina, especially of the Oaks trees. I really enjoyed reading your description of this beautiful city. Thanks to you Tina, I have traveled vicariously to so many different parts of the world! And I absolutely love it 🙂

    • Happy you’ve joined me on some of my journeys Uday. The oaks are one of my very favorite things in our area. The Spanish moss back lights so beautifully when the sun hits them just right.

      • Don’t worry, no need for hurry. But don’t forget to shoot Trifles 😉 In few days i am going to post pics from Paris (Arc de Triomphe) etc. (In Black and White)
        The next posting on ROVIONDD is a painting by Cézanne Paul – Still Life with Apples
        Critic IS highly appreciated.

        iPad? This is luxury that i cannot afford. 🙂

  3. I’d love to visit Charleston one of these years. Beautiful shots and history, Tina. And I have not been receiving your posts, so I just unfollowed and refollowed! Hope this helps.

  4. Beautifully done Tina. Charleston is one of our favorite cities as well. Spent a lot of time there in another life. I think one of my three would have been the cuisine. 🙂 Best of luck to you with the Accor Hotels competition.

  5. Charleston sounds like a very nice place to visit! Looks like some great photo ops. My favorite pic in your gallery is the three oak trees. Might make it through your neighborhood in the next year or so. We are planning a trip across the southwest to visit our son who lives near Chapel Hill, NC. I see it’s only a 4-hour drive or so.

    • Funny, I don’t really think of us as Deep South, more like the southern end of the north LOL. One of the reasons we like it here is because we actually have 4 seasons (altho as a former northerner, you can barely call ours “winter” most of the time!)

  6. I would definitely echo your vote for Charleston as being a memorable city that everyone should visit at least once! I hope to get back again, since I barely scratched the surface during my visit there. What a wonderful selection of photos you used to represent the diverse faces of charming Charleston!

  7. FABULOUS shots of CHS!!! Boy u sure did capture its specialness and once again…your words are always so perfect!!!

  8. That’s a great summary of why Charleston. I feel the same way about Richmond, which (like Charleston) gets a lot of tourism. People pay to come here to visit! To not enjoy is for myself would be wrong.

    Nancy

  9. I’ve never been, and even though I now live north of the Mason Dixon line, I have always considered myself a southern girl. Being born in Georgia will do that, even though I have spent more of my life in California than any place else.

    I will visit Charleston someday.

  10. Tina – these photos are awesome, and your accompanying explanations capture precisely why we dearly love this city. Found myself nodding “yes, indeed” with each each successive one. Have to think your work is worthy of many competitions. (Joe Riley would certainly concur!) Will be interested in learning what “three things” you choose to submit. Thanks for sharing. Kathy

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  11. I’ve only viewed Charleston from the borders of the airport and have longed to get out and actually see it. Thank you for giving me your perspective on what looks like a fantastic city. Speaking of “city”…I had no idea that it was only 125K!! That’s the size of the town I live in and we have nowhere near the appeal. This definitely calls for a real visit 🙂

    • I’m with your husband WOC! Retired from NJ to SC and have never looked back. We chose charleston because, among other things, we still have 4 seasons., albeit mild ones.

  12. First, let me say.. lovely photos Tina! We have never been to Charleston but you have convinced me we have been missing a great city and we need to plan a trip there. Love the sweetgrass baskets and the Gullah culture. I enjoy reading books that feature the charming Southern personality of South Carolina. AND the FOOD!

  13. Hi Tina! Charleston is on my list too. We have spent a lot of time in Savannah, when our son was in school there, but we’ve only been to Charleston once. Time to go back! –Patti

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