Fun Facts About Charleston, SC
In 1663, England’s King Charles II awarded the Carolina territory to eight loyal friends who had helped him regain the throne after years in exile. In 1670, the first expedition sailed across the Atlantic and established the province’s first settlement, which they called Charles Town. The name would hold until after the American Revolution when victorious colonists shortened the name to Charleston.
In 1761, two tornadoes—one barreling down the Ashley River, the other down the Cooper River—converged over Charleston’s harbor. So powerful was the combined twister, one witness wrote, that it “plowed the Ashley River to the bottom and lay the channel bare.” Four people were killed, and five ships sunk.
Charleston was the frequent target of pirate attacks in its early days. In 1718, none other than Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard, attacked several ships trying to enter the harbor. He took hostages and ransomed them for a chest of medicine.
On August 31, 1886, the most massive earthquake ever recorded in the southeast United States occurred near Charleston. The 7.8-magnitude quake, which damaged buildings in states as far away as Ohio, killed 60 people and caused more than $5 million in damages. Included in that estimate were more than 14,000 destroyed chimneys.
In 1969, workers at the South Carolina Medical College Hospital went on strike to protest low pay and working conditions for minorities. The strike, which lasted four months, resulted in improvements for employees and became a model for healthcare labor efforts. It is also seen as a seminal moment in the Civil Rights movement, has drawn the support of such luminaries as Coretta Scott King and Ralph Abernathy.
The first theater in America, the Dock Street Theatre, was built in 1736 on the corner of Church and Dock Street. It burned down just a few years later, in 1740, but 200 years later, the City built a new Dock Street Theatre, which continues to stage performances to this day.
Charleston’s minor league baseball team, meanwhile, is partly owned by Bill Murray. Because, of course, it is. Murray, whose official title with the team is “Director of Fun,” holds a home near Charleston and can be frequently spotted around town.