Chucktown by water October 6th, 2008
DC this is not, but we got back from our little jaunt down to Charleston, SC over a week ago and I had still not posted any of the pictures from this lovely city. This shot is from a little sail boat cruise that we decided to take on our Saturday evening. It was a “two-hour tour” but thankfully we did not get shipwrecked like Gilligan and crew of the S.S. Minnow.
All things considered, Charleston would not be a bad place to get “shipwrecked” and have to stay for a while. The historic core was beautiful and had more restaurants and bars than you could shake a stick at. Tremendous efforts had clearly been made to maintain the size, scale, and character of the development, redevelopment, and growth in and about the downtown area. This is great from a preservationist point of view but I felt that the area could really be re-energized by some new development and more progressive architecture. Part of the charm of old European cities (much, much older than Charleston) is the way that the fabric of the city has been able to absorb new ideas and adapt to tasteful changes in architectural styles and forms. This enriches the built environment in these regions and allows you to see them as living, growing, changing cities instead of ones that locked in to a certain time period and refuse to see beyond their own immediate horizon. Judging by the number of permits that I saw in the windows for the most minor changes to the exteriors of the buildings I suspect that it would take a paradigm shift in the thinking of the Charleston Board of Architectural Review to see new development of this character.
As you get away from the historic area (which as far as I could tell only inhabited by tourists and which “locals” generally avoided) and closer to the University of Charleston the town started to feel a bit more real. Throngs of people were out on King St. doing general life things, shopping, getting groceries, going to class, working out, etc, etc. Marion Square had a lively farmers market that made the market downtown feel like a cheap flea market full of worthless chotskies and overpriced sweetgrass baskets. Marion Square also supplied Charleston with a much needed open piece of green for residents and passer-bys to congregate in and partake in the oh-so-important activity of people watching. The historic area had Waterfront park which was equipped with a few “wading” fountains and offered visitors some beautiful views but lacked a central focus and was too spread out to ever seem very populated. It was a pleasant enough place to go and read if you could snag one of the swinging benches but the location and design of the park kept it somewhat isolated from any of the “action” happening in the city surrounding.
The scale and speed of Charleston was ideal for seeing on a nice beach cruiser style bicycle. We rented a couple of these from our hotel and perused the town. As the city itself is not very large this allowed us to get a nice quick lay of the land within a couple hour time frame. At the end of the day we enjoyed our time in Charleston very much and while the city seems to have a bunch of things to work on it I would be hard pressed to name a more “pleasant” town with seeming genuinely nicer people. That being said I think I would start to get a bit claustrophobic if I was to spend an extended amount of time here, at this point in my life anyway….maybe I’ll work on getting that vacation home down there…
tags: bicycle, fountains, Olympus XA-2, parks, XA2
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