No more than five square miles, downtown Charleston sits on a peninsula that separates the Ashley and Cooper rivers and and slides north to North Charleston's border. Aerials of the squared-off Battery and photos of sweet-grass basket makers by the Four Corners of Law and horse-drawn carriages carting tourists are among the set-in-time images of the lower peninsula. Dozens of antebellum homes owned by governors, businessmen, plantation owners and freedmen date to the 1700s and many residences are from the 19th century. Sale prices are typically $800,000 to $4 million or more.
An explosion of hotel construction has brought new and renewed lodging from the Ashley River to upper King Street. Newly built mid-rise condos, townhomes and apartments scramble north to the Crosstown Expressway. Uptown, neighborhoods such as Wagener Terrace, North Central and Hampton Terrace undergo gentrification and small, decades-old craftsman and brick homes -- many once owned by black families -- sell for $500,000 and up and rent for $1,500-$2,000 a month.
Median home prices: $473,750 (Upper Charleston Peninsula) to $759,500. (Downtown Charleston).
Home sales: 644. Community high – Downtown Charleston, 438.
Grocery stores: 4.
Schools: Charleston County.
Golf courses: 0* (A number of courses a a few minutes from downtown; arguably the first golf links in America emerged at Harleston Green).
Entertainment: Fine dining; baseball, parties (Riley Park); tours (Historic district, Visitors Center, Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor); erudite (Charleston Museum, Gibbes Art Gallery); higher education (College of Charleston, The Citadel).
Retail: King Street central business district, City Market.
Major employers: MUSC and hospital district; lodging establishments; government, visitor related.
Directions: Enter city from Interstate 26, Savannah Highway, Ravenel Bridge. Main roads include East Bay, King, Meeting, Calhoun and Broad streets.
The Neighbors: Wealthy, college students, working class, diverse, educated, starting families, snow birds, retirees, singles, store owners, public servants.
Market: Plush 18th-19th century mansions, refurbished single homes, newer reproductions, restored freedman houses, water views, pricey with hefty tax and insurance bills.
You'll Love: Dining out, walking around town, riding a horse and carriage or rickshaw, restoring unique properties, watching the Riverdogs (minor league baseball).
Perfect For: History buffs, active adults, upscale professionals, preservationists, students pet lovers.