Charleston, a port of entry, capital of a county of its own name, and the largest city of South Carolina, is situated on a tongue of land between the rivers Ashley and Cooper, which unite immediately below the town and form a beautiful and spacious harbour, communicating with the ocean at Sullivan's Island, a popular sea-bathing resort, 7 miles below. It is 118 miles NE. of Savannah, 580 miles SW. of Baltimore, and 540 miles SSW. of Washington. A shifting sandbar extends across the mouth of the harbour, but the new jetties (1878-88) secure a depth of 20 feet of water. The harbour is defended by Castle Pinckney and Fort Sumter, each on an island, the former 2 and the latter 6 miles below the city, and also by Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's Island. At the entrance of the harbour is a flashing light 125 feet high. Charleston is regularly built, and extends about 3 miles in length and nearly l 1/2 mile in breadth. It has a copious water-supply" from a large artesian well (1970 feet deep). Among the public buildings are the custom-house, city hall, court-house, citadel, academy of music, theatre, orphan asylum, and police barracks. The custom-house is a handsome edifice, built of granite and white marble. At the southern extremity of the city is a small park called the Battery or White Point Garden, with a fine promenade on the sea-wall. The Charleston College (1785; reorganised 1837) has an excellent museum of natural history. Here are also a medical college, the state military academy, etc. Charleston is the seat of an Episcopal and a Roman Catholic bishop. St Michael's Church (Episcopal) is a brick structure, with a steeple 180 feet high, and a chime of bells imported from England in 1764. Charleston is a commercial rather than a manufacturing city, and was formerly the chief cotton port of the United States; but since the civil war it has not developed so rapidly as other ports, and at the close of the 19th century the exports had been declining. They now average from $7,000,000 to about $11,000,000 per annum, the principal items being cotton and phosphates. The other exports are rice, lumber, and naval stores. The imports ($1,500,000 to $2,000,000 yearly) are chiefly salt, iron, ale, brimstone, kainite, and fruits from the West Indies. There is a large wholesale distributing trade in dry-goods, clothing, drugs, etc.; and the city has large machine-shops, cotton-presses, grist-mills, cotton-mills, rice-mills, a bagging-factory, shipyards, a good dry-dock for large ships, and extensive manufactures of phosphate of lime, which abounds in the vicinity. The city was founded in 1680; a few years later a company of French Huguenots settled here. In 1776 Charleston repulsed a British squadron; in 1780 it surrendered to Sir Henry Clinton. On 12th April 1861, the Confederates began the civil war by the bombardment of Fort Sumter, which they took the next day. In 1861 half the city was destroyed by fire, and a considerable part was not rebuilt until after 1865. After a long siege and bombardment, begun in 1863, the place was evacuated by the Confederates, February 17, 1865. On 31st August 1886 a severe earthquake destroyed or seriously injured nearly 7000 buildings. Pop. (1800) 18,711; (1840) 29,261; (1880) 49,984; (1891) 54,955; (1901)55,807.
Charleston, or Kanawha, capital of West Virginia, on the Great Kanawha River, at the mouth of the Elk, 369 miles WNW. of Richmond by rail. Large quantities of bituminous coal and salt are procured near by. Charleston was made state-capital in 1885, as it had already been in 1870-75. Pop. 12,000.