Downtown Charleston is typically referred to as the Historic District but within the city center, a host of smaller neighborhoods exist, each offering a unique personality and experience for visitors. In our newest blog series, we will introduce you to some of Charleston’s most notable neighborhoods, starting with arguably its most famous – South of Broad.
As its name suggests, South of Broad is located south of Broad Street, at the southernmost tip of the peninsula. Bordered by the Cooper and Ashley Rivers, this primarily residential area offers spectacular views of the Charleston harbor, where the two rivers meet the Atlantic Ocean. The neighborhood is also home to Rainbow Row, one of the most famous streets in all of Charleston.
Concierge Tip: A visit to South of Broad isn’t complete without a stop at The Battery. Wander along the newly renovated, raised promenade for unparalleled views of the harbor. See if you can spot Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began, in the distance!
Considered the most exclusive and affluent of the downtown neighborhoods, South of Broad is also one of it’s oldest with residences dating back to 1721. While a variety of architectural styles exist, most homes were built by wealthy plantation owners or merchants in the Georgian-Palladian style. Located on one of the most picturesque streets south of Broad, The Sword Gate House (located at 32 Legare Street), is named after the distinctive “Sword Gates” that stand guard at the entrance to the property. Each half of the gate has a central cross, formed by a vertical spear and a horizontally placed broadsword. A matching pair mark the entrance to The Citadel, the military college located downtown.
Concierge Tip: While wandering South of Broad can be a history lesson in itself, consider a tour of one of the historic homes in the neighborhood. The Heyward Washington House, where George Washington stayed on his tour of the South, the Edmonston Alston House or the Calhoun Mansion, the largest private residence downtown at 24,000 square feet, are open for tours. The Old Exchange Building and Provost Dungeon, which offers daily tours, has hosted pirates, patriots and presidents since the Colonial era.
Points of Interest:
Famous for its lush gardens and detailed iron gate-work, South of Broad is best explored on foot or by horse-drawn carriage. Admire the flourishing window boxes and peak into the private gardens (but do mind your manners – these are private properties!) Look for urban alleyways like Stoll’s Alley, Philadelphia Alley or Price’s Alley, each offering an intimate view and journey back in time.
Concierge Tip: Plan to enjoy a picnic lunch at White Point Gardens after exploring the neighborhood. Stop by Goat. Sheep. Cow., with its 200-year-old brick walls and exposed beams, to pick up cheese, wine and charcuterie. Or, grab lunch from Burbage’s Grocery, a small, self-serve corner grocery in business since 1948.
While you may have known South of Broad as the title of a Pat Conroy novel (an author also see on our Portraits of Charleston wall), the neighborhood offers much more for visitors to Charleston. Grab a map from our concierge, and savor the best of the South as depicted through one of the most beautiful areas downtown.