Our newspaper gives a weekly assignment to its readers who want to submit photos on a given theme, themes that run from “Urban decay” to “Seeing red” to “Signs of spring.”
Along the same lines, the paper gave its photography staff an assignment to come up with a gallery on any theme that could run any time. For some reason, the title “Charleston streets, from A to Z” came to my mind right off the bat — two years ago.
After that, it was a matter of rummaging through the alphabetical listing of streets in an atlas for the assortment of names. Picking and choosing from among those and then scouting the possible intersections that each offered were the next steps in the hunt for pictures. So it was more of a slow on-and-off, start-and-stop marathon than an on-deadline dash.
Besides being a 26-picture trip through Charleston’s street names, this gallery reflects a little glimpse of life under those signs and along those streets in our historic, coastal community.
Some letters were easy and obvious, like America Street for the A and Zig Zag Alley for the Z.
Others presented a surplus of choices: Parrothead, Peachtree, Percy, Perry, Pinckney, Pitt, Poinsett, Poplar, Poulnot, President, Princess and Prioleau, with Princess rising to the top to complete a royal trio with King and Queen.
Access was sometimes the challenge. Immigration seemed like a timely first choice for the I, but since it ran through the State Ports Authority’s gated Columbus Street Terminal, the hunt continued. As a worthy second choice, how many of us knew that Charleston had an I Street, literally?
If Jonathan Lucas seems a bit obscure, it might be because the British inventor shipwrecked along the coast and ended up staying to revolutionize rice milling — more than 200 years ago.
To some, Menotti also may be a head-scratching name. But the Italian composer Gian Carlo Menotti helped to enrich the city’s cultural atmosphere by founding Spoleto Festival USA — just 40 years ago.
Back to the beginning. Brewster, Brigade and Broad all had merit, but it had to be Bee, especially since it intersected Bravo alongside the VA hospital in the city’s newly designated Medical District. So two B streets sharing the same signpost presented a two-for-one bonus.
Speaking of districts, Charleston has its own Wall Street, but at a half-block long, it has little in common with the more famous one in New York City’s financial district.
While peninsular Charleston was an abundant source for almost the entire alphabet, it fell short by two letters. West Ashley saved the day for X (Xavier) and Y (Yeamans).
On a final note, Duc’s Court is pronounced “Duke’s Court.” But with the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in town, it might be fitting to pronounce it the other way, if just for this weekend ...