Charleston, So Much to See
08 November 2010
Yesterday afternoon Alan and Gerri had bicycled over from the marina in which Civil Twilight was berthed farther down the Ashley River in Charleston. With significant enthusiasm they related some of what they had seen during the day with friends of theirs who live on a boat much of the year right in Charleston and are native by several generations. Gerri's suggestion for today was to bicycle through the historic downtown district (Gerri had discovered a slick little app earlier for the Iphone/Ipad that provided an aural walking tour of the historic district complete with pictures.)
So with Ipad, backpack and bicycle we were off, excepting Nancy, who remembers a childhood incident that destroyed both her bicycle and her interest and now insists walking is more seemly. (And she does walk with alacrity - sometimes I bicycle and she walks and she arrives at the same time I do.)
Charleston is a city made for bicycles; at least bicycles owned by those whose confidence and energy level like mine that is somewhat diminished . Charleston is dead flat and often offers broad sidewalks with little pedestrian traffic. The street pattern is generally gridlike, that allows for a measure of intuitive navigation. And today the weather was perfect.
Starting with the Marketplace, a flea market that goes back to the origins of the city itself, we toured several public buildings and churches. But what charmed the soul and captivated the eye are the magnificently maintained historic homes, mostly dating back 200 years or more. Many of the homes have small alleyways which were developed to allow better air circulation during the debilitatingly hot and humid summer months in the decades before air conditioning became available. Some of the homes have lavishly landscaped courtyards. Most have a wrought iron gate of some time and many have iron fencing as well.
Most of the streets have palmettos and other trees for shade and many homes have one or two-story covered verandas, known locally as piazzas that usually face a small alleyway. The homes range in size from large (such as the ones above on the Charleston waterfront) to more modestly sized townhouses. Overall the effect was visually stunning. Everywhere one walked the gentle potpourri of colors of the homes, the textures, the vibrant greens of plantings everywhere suffused the soul with an emotional warmth that by comparison simply outshines the historic areas of other cities we have walked or lived in.