Department of medicine

History of Charleston

Charleston's unique character is anchored in its history and its preservation.  The site of the city's beginnings is located on the Ashley River at a site now preserved as the historical Charles Towne Landing, where English settlers arrived in 1670.  Charleston quickly became an attractive site for settlers due to its tolerance of religious freedom in addition to its lucrative seafaring trade.  By 1742, Charleston was ranked the fourth largest city in America.  Charleston has played a pivotal role in U.S. history, including being the site of the beginning of the Civil War.

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Notable Dates


Thomas Boone plants a number of live oaks along the entrance to his plantation, creating the moss-draped avenue of Boone Hall Plantation. 


The city changes its name from Charlestown to Charleston. 


The General Assembly charters the College of Charleston, making it the oldest municipal college in the country today.


 The State capital moves from Charleston to Columbia. 


The first bridge is built over the Ashley River....large enough for two carriages to pass easily. 


 The first native-born architect in America, Robert Mills, designs the first fireproof building in America, located at the corner of Chalmers and Meeting Streets. 


The Medical Society of South Carolina establishes the Medical College (Now the Medical University of South Carolina). 


The "Best Friend," the first locomotive built in America, becomes operational.  It ran from Charleston, SC to bamburg, SC. 


A native Charlestonian receives a patent for the first ice-making machine. 


The H.L. Hunley, a confederate submarine, sinks the USS Housatonic, becoming the first submarine to sink a vessel.


The Society for Preservation of Old Dwelling Houses, now simply known as the Preservation Society, was founded. 


The first Cooper River Bridge opens. 


Rainbow Row, inspired by citizen Dorothy Legge, began to be established.  Ms. Legge purchased 99 and 101 East Bay, renovating the valuable buildings that had been neglected over time.  Her purchase inspired others to purchase neighboring homes, and today this beautiful array of homes is one of the most famous landmarks of Charleston. 


Spoleto Festival USA begins its first season.  Based on a similar event in Spoleto, Italy, the festival offers dance, opera, plays, chamber music concerts, jazz and much more, attracting tourists from around the world. 


The 29th Ryder Cup takes place at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course.



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