Here in Charleston, children are heading back to school armed with freshly sharpened pencils and new backpacks. There’s something about this time of year that inspires learning, and Charleston certainly has her share of history lessons. So in honor of this back-to-school season, we share some facts about Charleston and popular attractions along with a few fun facts you can use to impress your friends.
- Benne Wafers are a uniquely Lowcountry snack. Dating back to Colonial times, the wafers came to America from East Africa during the slave trade era. “Benne” is the Bantu word for “sesame.” Sesame – with its mild, nutty taste – was wildly planted throughout the South.
- In 1886 an earthquake rocked Charleston and damaged 2,000 buildings and killed 110 people. Iron rods were run through building interiors and fastened to the exterior walls as protection from future earthquakes. You’ll see round and star-shaped bolts on the outside of many homes and commercial buildings downtown.
- St. Michael’s Church, 71 Broad St., is the oldest church edifice in the City of Charleston. It stands on the site of the first Anglican Church built south of Virginia. St. Michael’s 186-foot steeple is one of many church steeples dotting the Charleston skyline – contributing to the city’s nickname as the “Holy City.”
- Comedian Stephen Colbert, former star of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” and incoming host of CBS “Late Show,” grew up in Charleston.
- The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce was established in 1773. Still in operation today, it is the oldest chamber in the country.
- Joseph P. Riley Jr. was elected Charleston’s mayor in 1975. He is currently serving his final term as mayor.
- During the initial bombardment of Fort Sumter, the maximum range of the cannons was 2.4 miles. By the time the Union began bombarding the fort in 1863, this range had increased to 4.5 miles.
- One of those iconic Charleston photos is the tree-covered corridor that leads to Boone Hall Plantation. In 1743, the son of Maj. John Boone planted the live oak trees in two evenly spaced rows. Some 200 years later, the trees grew together to create an arched entryway dripping with Spanish moss and alive with Southern charm and grace.
- The USS Yorktown received the Presidential Unit Citation, and earned 11 battle stars for service in World War II. Much of the Academy Award-winning (1944) documentary “The Fighting Lady” was filmed on board the carrier.