Historic Charleston, SC — there is so much I could tell you about this area. When I first came to Charleston nearly 20 years ago, Historic Charleston — the Meeting St. area to be specific — was what I first saw. I can remember eating at Hymans Seafood and being just blown-away with how cool Charleston was.
As I write this today, some 20 years later, I am still blown-away by how cool Historic Charleston is. I have been fortunate enough to travel in Europe a lot and around the USA and I am convinced that Charleston holds its own with any place in the world. Rarely do you find so much culture, high-quality food and so many friendly people in such a relatively small town. This fact was backed up when Travel and Leisure Magazine voted Charleston the 4th best city in the USA or Canada, behind San Francisco, New York and Chicago — that is nice company to keep.
Aside from the accolades mentioned above, the main reason people come here to visit or live is the history of the Holy City (the moniker comes from all the church steeples in the city). You can walk the streets and view some of the most varied architecture in the United States. The inside of these homes and buildings are gorgeous and reflect the grace and elegance rooted in the Southern past.
When you visit, be sure you make it to King Street, where you’ll find some of the best shopping in the Southeast, rivaled only by Buckhead in Atlanta. Downtown restaurants you should try include Oak Steakhouse (pricey but delicious), Hank’s Seafood Restaurant, and Blossoms or Magnolias, which are both operated by same management group and next door to each other.
As for real estate in the Historic District, it continues to do very well in spite of down markets in the rest of the United States. Numerous antebellum mansions line Charleston’s streets. Some mansions are restored to their full historic glory while others have been converted to stylish condos. On Charleston’s upper East side and near the Medical University, several modern new constructions fit in well with the carefully preserved old architecture. The whole downtown area has seen a boom in revitalization.
The growth and redevelopment of downtown is largely attributed to the vision of Charleston’s mayor, Joseph P. Riley, a Charlestonian and the city’s mayor for over 30 years. Some of the top cities in the U.S. have recruited Riley to help run their governments because he is known as such a visionary.
If you are a retiree or interested in buying a second home in the Charleston area (and you have the money to spend), I strongly recommend taking a look at downtown. You are surrounded by great medical facilities and as I mentioned, all the amenities you could want in a city, most of it within easy walking distance of downtown homes.
For families, historic downtown Charleston can be a great fit if you are used to city living with your kids. The walkable city offers gorgeous parks, fun and informative museums and the aquarium. Unfortunately, the public schools in downtown Charleston experience many of the same problems as the urban inner-city schools of larger metropolises and do not rank among the best in Charleston County. The Charleston area does boast some fantastic (and expensive) private schools, including Porter Gaud and Ashley Hall, which are both very highly regarded.
As you can tell, I love the Historic area of Charleston. If you want a tour of homes in the Historic District, please just let me know a day and time that works for you. Thanks — Bob