Located between the historic Charleston peninsula and the barrier island beaches on Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms, Mount Pleasant has been one of South Carolina's fastest-growing communities for years.
An enviable location, well-regarded public schools, low crime, robust recreational offerings, and low taxes are among the reasons the population of this suburban bedroom community has nearly tripled since 1990, when the town had about 30,000 residents.
Go back to 1950, and Mount Pleasant was a small fishing village, home to less than 2,000. Mount Pleasant still calls itself a town, but it's now South Carolina's fourth-largest city after Charleston, Greenville and North Charleston.
While the rapid growth has chafed long-time residents, it has also supported the town's extensive public recreation programs for youths and adults, an ever-growing list of shops, restaurants and local services.
In some of the large, affluent subdivisions, the trucks and vans of local service providers can be seen arriving in the morning as residents drive off to work: the lawn services, mobile dog groomers, house cleaners, contractors and landscapers. The town has become a collection of large subdivisions, particularly in the north end of town near S.C. Highway 41, but there are also a number of older, traditional neighborhoods where the streets are laid out like a grid and all the houses are different.
The Old Village on the Charleston Harbor is where the town began, and its original traditional neighborhood. Some parts of the Old Village are close enough to Shem Creek that residents can walk there.
Scanlonville, a community founded in 1868 by freedman John Scanlon to provide land ownership opportunities to formerly enslaved people, is another of the town's oldest traditional neighborhoods. It's also one of small number of traditionally black communities within the town's boundaries.
Demographically, Mount Pleasant's residents are wealthier and better-educated than most in the Charleston area. An estimated 59 percent of residents age 25 or older have at least a college degree. The town's population is more than 90 percent white, more like a state in New England than most South Carolina communities, and real estate prices are the highest among large municipalities in the state.
Most residents of Mount Pleasant moved there, rather than grew up there, often relocating from other states.
Amid all the change, traditional makers of sweetgrass baskets still sell their wares from roadside stands on U.S. Highway 17, shrimp fresh off the boat is still sold along Shem Creek and beaches are still minutes away.