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Charleston South Carolina

Introduction

Charleston is one of the oldest cities in South Carolina State. It is the second largest in the state of South Carolina and is one of the best tourist destinations in the United States. Its population is a mixture of different races; however, whites are the majority making up approximately 70% of the population. Charleston started as a “port city” has seen tremendous developments in different sectors, especially in agriculture, education and commerce. Currently, Charleston is the fastest growing municipality in the state of South Carolina and third largest in South Carolina in terms of population. With its rich history and well preserved historical architecture and its well-mannered people, Charleston is considered a popular tourist destination. Charleston city has received many awards, such as “America’s friendliest city” and “the politest city in the United States”, which have given national and international recognition to it. 

History

In the late 17th century, groups of colonists came from both England and West Indies to found a new town at Albemarle Point at the junction of Cooper and Ashley rivers (Butler, 2015; South Carolina Genealogical Society, 2015). A group of eight English men who were known as “Lords proprietors” were granted a charter by King Charles II in 1663 (South Carolina Genealogical Society, 2015). They discovered the land which they named Carolina in honor of the king, and the first settlers arrived in 1670 from England to establish a settlement named Charles town in honor of King Charles II. The name later became known as Charleston (South Carolina Genealogical Society, 2015). Charleston was chosen to be a “port city” and became the busiest seaport trade. Even though English were the original settlers, Charleston grew to become a mixture of different ethnic communities with many migrants coming from Bermuda, Caribbean, France, Germany, as well as Africans who were later brought in as slaves.

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With immigrants coming in from different regions, Charleston population became a mixture of different cultures, religions, and values. This diversity led to series of conflicts in the area, and Charleston experienced continuous social, economic and political change. Due to its bustling trade, Charleston became the capital of South Carolina until 1790, when the capital was moved to Columbia. The city thrived economically due to its seaport trade and agriculture in which rice and cotton were dominant cash crops; later, after the civil war of 1856, industries were established from the era of postbellum (South Carolina Genealogical Society, 2015).

Charleston mixed ethnic communities led to rise of different religious groups such as Roman Catholicism, Judaism, and other Protestants denominations. Racial discrimination was rife, and blacks were constantly alienated from the city’s affairs. This led to splashes of violence between the black and white communities, as whites fought to maintain their supremacy. Political struggle in the regions led to revolts and riots with blacks facing constant intimidation during elections. Economically, blacks were undermined, as they were subjected to lower wages and discrimination in the work force, which initiated civil rights movement. Example is the Charleston hospital strike event by blacks in 1969.

 
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The language spoken in Charleston is predominantly English, which originated from early settlers. However, different languages have emerged over time due to different ethnic groups and intermarriages. Gullah language is still spoken by many African Americans. Charleston is also often referred to as holy city because of many churches in the region. The region is open to many Protestants denominations besides Roman Catholic (Saint Mary of the Annunciation). Anglican churches (Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul), Jewish synagogue (Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim) and African Methodist for blacks are main churches in Charleston that have influenced social behavior of the area. The city also boasts of different social events such as fashion week, international film festival, food festival, light festival, art festival, among many others. Currently, the total population stands at approximately 129,000 as recorded by 2013.

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Geography

Geographically, Charleston is located at the junction of Ashley River and Cooper River, and it occupies eighty-seven square miles (South Carolina Genealogical Society, 2015). It is located along the coast of Atlantic Ocean. Because of its geographical location, Charleston is one of the busiest seaport trades. Its closeness to Atlantic Ocean provides many economic and recreational benefits. The Atlantic Ocean connects the city with other parts of the world thus promotes trades by easy shipping of goods in and out the region. The beaches are tourist destinations for many tourists across the country. The rivers Ashley and Cooper and the Atlantic Ocean have open opportunities in fishing industries. The rivers are also used in electricity production for the residents of Charleston. Furthermore, Charleston islands such as Folly Island and Kiawah Island are settlement areas and escape for many of its residents (South Carolina Genealogical Society, 2015). 

However, the geographical location of Charleston has caused the region to experience major catastrophes and diseases. In 1886, Charleston experienced a major earthquake that caused approximately eighty deaths; besides, the city sits at the Woodstock Fault that that is said to cause averagely two tremors a year (South Carolina Genealogical Society, 2015). The city has also experienced occasional malaria outbreaks due to its closeness to the two rivers. In addition, the geographical location of Charleston has put it at risk of attack by the enemies and pirates. The islands, for example, have been a subject of contention that led to series of wars. In 1889, hurricane caused devastation to the island, resulting in homes being destroyed and much damage to the residents (South Carolina Genealogical Society, 2015). Periodical flooding is also common in Charleston, leading to impassable roads and destruction of properties, electricity lines and farms.

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Charleston experiences dynamic weather conditions, especially during winter periods, when there is alternation of arctic and tropical air (City-Data, 2009). The temperature of the region is averaged annually at 56.2° F, and summer periods are characterized by hot and humid weather (City-Data, 2009). The region often experiences heavy rains and thunderstorms and is also known to be the foggiest region, which occasionally affects sea and air transportation (City-Data, 2009).

Mobility of Residents and Tourism

Charleston has many modes of transport thanks to its geographical location. The city’s transportation includes air, road and sea. Charleston has an airport called Yeager Airport built in 1940s; it had been known as Kanawha airport before it was renamed after General Charles S. "Chuck" Yeager (City-Data, 2009). It has private aviation facilities and provides operation for six commercials airlines (City-Data, 2009). It also has three interstate road networks that link Charleston to its neighbors Virginia, Cleveland, West Virginia turnpike, and Virginia border. The links are I-64, I-77 and I-79 (City-Data, 2009). The road network allows residents of Charleston to access other areas, such as Virginia, Pittsburgh, New York, and Cleveland, by road. The region also has a rail transport system which enables train transportation. Sea transport also offers mobility to the residents of Charleston. The Charleston harbor is a popular destination of many ships, ferries and boats.

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Charleston is a popular tourist destination due to its rich tourist attraction sites. The geographical location of the region places Charleston in the map of “must visit destinations” for tourists. Charleston has rich historic buildings with unique architectures. Historical buildings in Charleston are well preserved; thus, many tourists visit this area to catch a glimpse of historical buildings their architectural design and other old artifacts associated with the buildings.

In particular, the old churches of Charleston such as St. Luke chapel and Stella Maris catholic are examples of over sixteen churches in the region that attract tourists. Charleston museums, such as Nathan Russell Museum House, Aiken-Rhett House Museum, and Gibbes Museum of Art, have wide range of exhibits about the history of Charleston, which are attractive to tourists who want to know more about the city. Charleston beaches are also major resort for tourists, as well as Charleston harbor.

Education

Charleston has one of the best education systems with average test scores higher than national and state test scores (Areavibes Inc., 2016). According to recent statistics, 90% of people in Charleston have completed eighth grade, 90% have completed high school, and 47% have completed a bachelor degree (Areavibes Inc., 2016). Education system comprises public school sponsored by the local government, private schools, and special needs schools for people with special needs. Statistics shows that there are 38 total numbers of public schools, 26 private schools and a total of 11 post-secondary schools (Areavibes Inc., 2016). The student to teacher ratio stands at 14 to 1. The local government offers post-secondary students loans to finance their education. Besides, student scholarships and grants are also available for the applicants to aid in financing their post-secondary education. The scholarship categories include Palmetto fellow scholarship, South Carolina hope scholarship and legislative incentives for future excellence. The special needs schools with subsidized fees are operated in the city specifically for impaired children. The annual dropout rate is at 3.4 %, and there is no gender discrimination as boys and girls are given equal chances.

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Conclusion

To summarize, Charleston is one of the fastest growing cities in the state of South Carolina and third largest in South Carolina in terms of population. Charleston geographical location is factor that has influenced its economic and political dimension. The area has been characterized by mixed ethnic groups such as Hispanic, African American, whites, Latin, among many others, that has enriched its culture and greatly influenced its politics and economy. Charleston has rich tourist attractions such as old churches, old buildings, and museums, which are a popular destination for many tourists. Charleston has one of the best education systems in South Carolina with equal opportunities for boys, girls, and people with special needs. Different programs such as SC HOPE Scholarship and Palmetto Fellows Scholarship have been put in place to offer financial aid to different categories of people. Due to its indisputable benefits for both natives and visitors, Charleston city has received many prestigious awards and has been recognized all over the world.

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