So you from out of town?
I thought so - Crocs with socks. That fanny pack is very stylish, too, by the way.
Are you looking for some cheap entertainment? Maybe a little H?
I've got some good stuff here: high-quality History.
This is not that homogenized stuff they give you on the licensed tours. This is real Charleston history. Uncut.
Just climb in this rickshaw and we'll get going.
Wait, be cool. It's the cops. Ask me where the aquarium is - fast.
Got to be careful, the city's cracking down. See, we're cutting into their business. And their business is history. It's a multi-billion dollar industry.
It's sort of like how the state outlawed video poker so it wouldn't compete with the lottery. Free enterprise? These guys aren't buying it.
Look, you can't get this stuff anywhere else. Really. You need a taste? Fine.
See that big brick building out there in the water?
Fort Sumter. First shots of the Civil War, right there.
You like that? There's more where that came from.
Now, this is your basic entertainment district.
This is where they corral y'all, around the Market.
The Market is where you get your T-shirts, your sweetgrass baskets, your pralines. Tourist central.
No, it didn't used to be the slave mart. That's a few streets down.
This entertainment district is very important to Charleston. We get about 4 million visitors a year, and that's big money. And all of those tourists end up here at some point. This is where you find most of the restaurants.
This is where you catch a "licensed tour."
The city has restrictions on those folks, makes 'em take a test to learn local history. They only allow so many to operate, make them stick to pre-selected routes. It's very regimented.
Back when the rickshaws came in, 20 or 25 years ago, we asked to be tour vehicles. The city said no.
They said they had to manage traffic for residents and visitors. See, those horse buggies carry 12, maybe 15 people. That's efficient.
A rickshaw can only carry two tourists - three if you haven't been eating at Jestine's.
The city said we couldn't put 100 rickshaws on the streets carting tourists around. We came back later and applied as transportation. You know, like taxis - just taking folks from Point A to Point B.
So some of us talk a little. What's the big deal?
I'll tell you, it is to some people. Back in the fall the police busted this other rickshaw guy, fined him $1,000 just for talking about our wonderful city.
Just talking. It's crazy.
This is Marion Square.
Part of the old walled city is beneath this patch of grass - big scene during the Revolutionary War. This is where we tried to hold off the British.
It didn't work.
These days, some locals feel like we're under siege again, only this time it's tourists and the companies that feed off them.
The downtowners don't like the buses rolling through their neighborhoods, they hate the horse carriages and they despise us.
They say we're too slow, always blocking traffic. Even when we aren't talking about JFK meeting that spy woman here back in the day.
So we like to pedal a little history. Get it?
It was some South of Broaders who ratted out that other rickshaw guy. And the city takes what downtown folks say real seriously, most of the time.
They've even got a special team of cops set up just to deal with the entertainment district. They ran the sting on that rickshaw driver. Made the downtown folks real happy. We call it the War on Touror.
Some locals want to know why the police spend so much time on this stuff when there are burglaries, robberies, drug dealers out there. People are shooting people and some folks want to know why the city spends time and money to run an undercover operation on a bicyclist.
Good question. But hey, that's Charleston - conflict runs all through our history.
So where can I drop you?
The cruise ship terminal?
Buddy, you'd better be careful around here. Because if you think these folks don't like rickshaws ...
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com.
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