Drunken fistfights. People stumbling into traffic. Tipsy travelers relieving themselves on lawns and buildings.

Welcome to the flip side of Upper King Street's robust rebirth as an entertainment district.

In the past two years, police have racked up 1,047 arrests on Upper King and neighboring streets, with alcohol-related arrests up about 34 percent this year over 2012. Serious crimes like robbery and rape are rare here.

The majority of busts are booze- and conduct-related, statistics show.

Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said it's a challenge managing large crowds moving from bar to bar. Officers must keep things flowing while watching revelers to ensure that minor problems don't erupt into something worse.

"There are just so many different things going on at once," Mullen said. "If you're not very careful and attentive to what's going on, it can become problematic very quickly."

In October, a bar argument turned into an assault down the road after security workers booted those involved and didn't call police. One man ended up hospitalized.

Police have reminded bar owners to keep them in the loop, but Mullen is generally pleased with the bars' efforts to clear sidewalks and keep outside patrons in orderly lines.

Police are adding 12 officers to entertainment districts around King and Market streets to help with crowd control, and the city is mulling a taxi stand on Upper King to help revelers get on their way after a night on the town.

"We want people to have a good time while they're down there, but to also keep safety in mind," said Lt. Charles Hawkins, who oversees patrols in the area. "We don't want to be talking about what happened Thursday, Friday and Saturday in a courtroom on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday."

Glenn Smith