Main Streets 2017: South Carolina
One of America’s most visually spectacular avenues, King Street runs from Charleston Harbor to uptown, with three sections rightly known for shopping opportunities — the Design District on Upper King, the Fashion District on Middle King, and the Antique District on Lower King.
The City of Charleston dates to 1670, and King Street has long been a central pathway for its settlement and growth. This began to be an important retail destination as early as the late 18th century, when wagons rumbled in carrying products of South Carolina’s inland settlements, to be traded for store-offered goods.
Charleston was the first U.S. city to enact a historic-preservation law and zoning ordinance, and its ongoing review standards have helped preserve King Street’s wealth of architectural styles, from Colonial and Georgian to Federal and Victorian. “Walking along King Street’s wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks is the most convenient way to visit the restaurants, shops, parks and local attractions,” advises the American Planning Association, which has named this one of America’s Great Places.
Midway on King Street is Marion Square, a 10-acre park that, for generations, has been a main gathering place for both local residents and many of the city’s nearly five million annual visitors. Major annual events here include the Southeastern Wildlife Festival, the Charleston Food & Wine Festival, the Spoleto Festival, the Piccolo Festival, Charleston Fashion Week and the Christmas Tree Lighting.
That’s not to mention the City of Charleston Farmers Market, which comes to life on Marion Square every Saturday, with more than 100 local vendors. “Go early to this Saturday downtown market, especially in summer, for the least bustle and first pick of peaches or tomatoes,” advises Travel + Leisure magazine.
Some 192 local businesses make their homes on King Street, part of which is shut down on the second Sunday of each month for outdoor dining, art and retail sales, and live music. You’ll find everything here from used books (in the popular Blue Bicycle Books) to … well, design, fashion and antiques! And thanks to city restrictions on building heights, King Street strollers can easily see the nearby harbor and many of the city’s church steeples. (Charleston has so many, in fact, it’s been called the “Holy City.”)
With all this to see, do and shop for, you’re sure to get hungry. When you do, the restaurants along this historic avenue will please your palate and fill your stomach the way only good Southern cooking can.
Primary photo taken by AudeVivere
Pride Parade photo taken by Donald West
Charleston, SC is home to a 2017-18 LifeChanger: Ylonda Nero-Anderson