Saturday, 30 April 2016

Charleston Historic District Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 7.7 km (4.8 miles), terrain: flat

If any city inspired the term "gracious living", it must be Charleston. The huge ensemble of elegant homes and perfectly manicured gardens will leave you in awe at every turn. Even the cheaper houses incorporate the same design ideas that mark the most impressive mansions.
Home in historic Charleston
The first thing that you'll notice is the layout of the houses: many are built with the short end to the street, with a double-level porch running the length of the side, and a "privacy" door to the porch from the street. I've never seen such a design anywhere else, and it exudes a charm all its own. The porches were used as sleeping-porches in hot weather. And when you add a quiet garden paradise along the porches, the homes are turned into works of art.

This route will lead you down plenty of such streets, plus add some parks, waterfront, the market area and the downtown.

We'll start the run in Marion Square, in the heart of downtown. Everything south of this spot is historic, and the further south you run, the more upscale it gets.
Marion Square
So get yourself to Marion Square, at the corner of King Street and Calhoun. The square is named after Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion, also known as the "Swamp Fox". He and his small band of men helped keep a much larger British force occupied for much of that war.

Run to the southwest corner of the square and then turn south to run down King Street. This is the main downtown shopping street, and is fairly vibrant. But it is busy and full of traffic, so we'll get off it quickly.
Along King Street
Run south till the first turn to the right, George Street. This is already much quieter, and in a block comes to the campus of the College of Charleston. You'll pass an entry arch to the university and a pedestrian area.
College of Charleston campus
When George Street ends at Coming Street, turn left and then right at the first chance, onto Montagu Street, heading west. This is quieter than Coming, and you'll start seeing the typical Charleston houses here.

At Smith Street, turn south, so you will be heading to the most historic area, at the southern tip of the peninsula, with more typical homes.
One of the hundreds of elegant homes in Charleston
When Smith ends at Queen Street, turn right and run the short block to Colonial Lake, where you turn left onto Rutledge. The lake has recently been refurbished and replanted, thanks to a big group of volunteers.
Volunteers planting at Colonial Lake
Now follow Rutledge all the way to the waterfront, at Murray Boulevard.

At the water, turn left to follow this line of waterfront mansions. You can either run on the side with the houses, or run next to the seawall, but the sidewalk there is tilted and is a bit hard to run on. You can see James Island across the water.
Along Murray Boulevard
When you get near the eastern point of the peninsula, you'll pass White Point Garden, a pleasant park full of live-oak trees and cannons.
In White Point Garden
Just north of Murray Blvd. is South Battery, with more amazing mansions, so turn left there after rounding the park along the east.
Mansions along South Battery
Run west along Battery until you get to Legare Street, where you turn north and run by some of the biggest mansions in town, and some of the nicest gardens. This is also a favorite with the horse-carriage tours, who follow these streets (you can tell by the smell).

Two blocks later, you'll hit Tradd Street, another great street. Turn left here and you'll be running by "Rainbow Row", a row of colorful houses along this narrow lane.
Rainbow Row
Cross East Bay Street and run down the cobblestoned street to then turn north to run through Waterfront Park, with its pineapple fountain. Pineapples are symbols of welcome in Charleston.
Waterfront Park
When you come to the pier, turn left (west) and run east on Queen Street until you get to Church Street. Now turn right (north) and run the bend around St. Phillip's Episcopal Church, one of the oldest in town.
Carriage along Queen Street
In just two more blocks, you'll come to ground-zero for the city's tourism, the covered markets along Market Street. The area is full of people and carriages.

Turn right onto Market Street, but we'll just stay here for a block, so turn left after the first market building onto Anson Street, with its carriage houses for the tourist tours.
Carriage house along Anson
Anson is fairly quiet and has a variety of homes and businesses, with a historic flair. Keep running north on Anson until it ends at Calhoun, where you turn left and run the last block to Marion Square.

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