Charleston in South Carolina lies on the Atlantic coast of the United States. It boasts a wealth of 18th and 19th century mansions, but is probably best known in American history as the site where the Civil War began at Fort Sumter. Despite its great popularity as a tourist destination, the city has managed to retain its quaint atmosphere while still being an energetic and real working town. Today, Charleston is a compelling place to visit, especially the historic district featuring tall, narrow houses of multi-colored stucco adorned with wooden shutters and ironwork balconies. Hidden gardens, leafy patios, palm trees, a semitropical climate and an easy-going atmosphere complete the picture of one of the most beloved cities of the South and was recently acclaimed the most courteous city in the U.S. Charleston's historic district includes Joseph Manigault House, built around 1803 and considered one of the finest Adamesque mansions in the country, and The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. Also worth a visit are the botanical treasures of Middleton Place, which boasts the oldest landscaped gardens in America.
Founded in 1670 by a group of English aristocrats as an intended moneymaking venture, ‘Charles Towne' swiftly boomed as the port to serve the rice and cotton plantations. In Colonial times, Charleston was one of the four largest cities on the Eastern Seaboard. Prosperous plantation owners amassed their wealth farming vast areas of cotton, rice, and indigo. During the summer months, Charleston society blossomed with festive events, theatre, and elaborate musicales. It was the epitome of European luxury in the New World.
But the Civil War also started here at Fort Sumter on an island in the harbour. The city was damaged by fire in 1861, by Union bombardment in 1865 and a catastrophic earthquake in 1886. When the rest of the state became industrialized, Charleston was the exception. Only with the arrival World War II did the city regain importance as a port and naval base. Since then a steady program of preservation and restoration has made tourism one of Charleston's main industries.
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