History of the cityFounded and settled by English colonists in 1670, Charleston grew from a colonial seaport to a wealthy city by the mid-eighteenth century. Through the mid-nineteenth century, Charleston’s economy prospered due to its very busy seaport and the cultivation of rice, cotton, and of course indigo. 

It was April of 1861, that Confederate soldiers fired on Union-occupied Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, signaling the beginning of the Civil War. Charleston was slow to recover from the devastation of the war. However, its pace of recovery became the foundation of the City’s greatest asset – its vast inventory of historically significant architecture. Short on capital after the war, Charleston was forced to repair the existing damaged buildings instead of replacing them. 

After the war, the City gradually lessened its dependence on agriculture and rebuilt its economy through trade and industry. Construction of the Navy Yard in 1904, just north of the City’s boundaries, pushed Charleston vigorously into the twentieth century. During the first few decades of the 1900’s, industrial and port activities increased dramatically. Later, major sources of capital came from the Charleston Naval Base, the area’s medical industry and the tourism industry.  Did you know that now approximately 4.5 million people visit our city annually generating an estimated economic impact of $3.25 billion dollars.