Charleston County, South Carolina

Charleston County is located in the U.S. state of South Carolina along the Atlantic coast. As of the 2020 census, the population was 408,235,[1] making it the third most populous county in South Carolina (behind Greenville and Richland counties). Its county seat is Charleston.[2] It is also the largest county in the state by land area. The county was created in 1800 by an act of the South Carolina State Legislature.[3]

Charleston County
Official seal of Charleston County
Official logo of Charleston County
Map of South Carolina highlighting Charleston County
Location within the U.S. state of South Carolina
Map of the United States highlighting South Carolina
South Carolina's location within the U.S.
Coordinates: 32°49′N 79°54′W / 32.82°N 79.9°W / 32.82; -79.9
Country United States
State South Carolina
FoundedJanuary 1, 1800
Named forKing Charles II
Largest cityCharleston
 • Total1,357.99 sq mi (3,517.2 km2)
 • Land917.98 sq mi (2,377.6 km2)
 • Water440.01 sq mi (1,139.6 km2)  32.40%
 • Total408,235
 • Estimate 
 • Density444.71/sq mi (171.70/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional districts1st, 6th

Charleston County is included in the Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area. It is in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina.

History Edit

Charleston County was chartered in 1785 but was quickly dissolved after disputes by the residents about governance. The county was later redrawn in 1798 with the boundary lines taking effect on January 1, 1800.[4] The county seat and largest city in both the county and state is Charleston. Both the county and town was named after King Charles II.

Geography Edit

Interactive map of Charleston County

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,357.99 square miles (3,517.2 km2), of which 917.98 square miles (2,377.6 km2) is land and 440.01 square miles (1,139.6 km2) (32.40%) is water.[5] It is the largest county in South Carolina by total land and water area.

National protected areas Edit

State and local protected areas/sites Edit

Major water bodies Edit

Adjacent counties Edit

Major highways Edit

Major infrastructure Edit

Demographics Edit

Historical population
2022 (est.)419,279[7]2.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
1790-1960[9] 1900-1990[10]
1990-2000[11] 2010-2015[12]

2020 census Edit

Charleston County racial composition[13]
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 263,560 65.2%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 91,746 26.3%
Native American 857 0.4%
Asian 7,461 1.83%
Pacific Islander 319 0.08%
Other/Mixed 15,012 3.68%
Hispanic or Latino 29,280 5.3%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 408,235 people, 165,568 households, and 95,785 families residing in the county.

2010 census Edit

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 350,209 people, 144,309 households, and 85,692 families residing in the county.[14][12] The population density was 382.3 inhabitants per square mile (147.6/km2). There were 169,984 housing units at an average density of 185.6 units per square mile (71.7 units/km2).[15] The racial makeup of the county was 64.2% white, 29.8% black or African American, 1.3% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 2.7% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 5.4% of the population.[14] In terms of claimed ancestry, 11.3% were German, 11.0% were English, 10.2% were Irish, and 9.8% were American.[16]

Of the 144,309 households, 27.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.5% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 40.6% were non-families, and 30.1% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 2.96. The median age was 35.9 years.[14]

The median income for a household in the county was $48,433 and the median income for a family was $61,525. Males had a median income of $42,569 versus $34,195 for females. The per capita income for the county was $29,401. About 11.5% of families and 16.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under age 18 and 10.8% of those age 65 or over.[17]

2000 census Edit

As of the census[18] of 2000, there were 309,969 people, 143,326 households, and 97,448 families residing in the county. The population density was 338 people per square mile (131 people/km2). There were 141,031 housing units at an average density of 154 units per square mile (59 units/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 61.9% White, 34.5% Black or African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.12% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.99% from other races, and 1.16% from two or more races. 2.40% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 9.6% were of American, 9.5% English, 9.1% German and 7.6% Irish ancestry.

There were 123,326 households, out of which 28.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.20% were married couples living together, 15.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.20% were non-families. 28.30% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the county, the age distribution of the population shows 23.70% under the age of 18, 12.00% from 18 to 24, 30.30% from 25 to 44, 22.00% from 45 to 64, and 11.90% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county is $37,810, and the median income for a family was $47,139. Males had a median income of $32,681 versus $25,530 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,393. About 12.40% of families and 16.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.90% of those under age 18 and 12.70% of those age 65 or over.

In the 2000 census, the county population was classified as about 86% urban. The Charleston-North Charleston Metropolitan Statistical Area includes the populations of Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties.

Law and government Edit

From 1895 to 1973, when the state constitution was amended to provide for home rule in the counties, the counties had limited powers, under what was called "county purpose doctrine."[19] Essentially the General Assembly governed the counties through their state legislative delegations and, with one state senator per county, the state senator was particularly powerful. In the 1940s, Charleston County adopted a council-manager form of county government to better handle its needs.[20] In 1975 the state's Home Rule Act established a larger role for the county governments.

Charleston County has a large geographic area represented by a nine-member county council. From the turn of the 20th century into the 1960s, most African Americans were excluded from voting by the state's disenfranchising constitution and discriminatory practices. This gradually changed after passage of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Since 1969, members of the county commission have been elected in a modified at-large system for nine seats from four residency districts. Elections are held every two years for staggered four-year terms. Three Council seats are reserved for residents of the City of Charleston, three for residents of North Charleston, two for residents of West Ashley, and one for residents of East Cooper.[21][22] The council elects a chairman from its members for a limited term of two years, but chairs can be re-elected.

Charleston County was "one of only three counties in South Carolina to elect its entire county council at-large. It was "the only county with a majority white population to do so."[21] At-large positions favor candidates who can attract a majority of the votes, reducing representation from smaller portions of the population, or geographic areas.

In 1989 county residents proposed a referendum to change representation on the county council to election from single-member districts, which would have provided more opportunity for the sizable minority to elect candidates of their choice. This proposal was narrowly defeated in what both the county and the US government later defined as a racially polarized election. It was supported by 98% of the African-American minority voters; 75% of the white-majority voters rejected the referendum.[22] In practice, the at-large system results in the dilution of votes of the significant minority of African-American voters, who comprise more than one-third of the electorate. In practice, the minority voters have been unable to elect a candidate of their choice in all but a few elections in the three decades since the system was established.[22]

In January 2001, the US Department of Justice filed suit against the county government for racial discrimination based on the at-large system, which the suit contended violates Sec.2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by diluting voting power.[23] The department had tried to negotiate with the county over changes in November 2000. Four voters independently filed suit as plaintiffs against the county on the same basis, and the District Court combined the cases. Justice officials noted that the at-large seats dilute the voting strength of the African-American minority in the county, who in 2000 comprised 34.5% of the population. In all but a few cases over three decades, they have been unable to elect candidates of their choice to the county commission. Whites (European Americans) comprise 61.9 percent of the population in the county.[18] Since the late 20th century, the white majority has elected Republican Party candidates.

The DOJ officials noted that the voting preference issue is not just a question of ethnicity; voters in black precincts in the county had rejected a Republican African American as a candidate for the council; they supported the Democratic at-large candidate. The suit noted that historically, black and white precincts in Charleston County have consistently supported different candidates for the council. It noted that, because of the white majority and the large geographic area, which increases costs for campaigning, "white bloc voting usually results in the defeat of candidates who are preferred by black voters."[23] DOJ noted that blacks lived in compact areas of the county, were cohesive in voting, and could comprise the majority in three districts if the county seats were apportioned as nine single-member districts. They could vote and gain representation proportional to their part of the citizenry.[23]

In United States v. Charleston County, SC (March 2003), the District Court ruled that Charleston County improperly diluted the voting strength of African-American voters "by maintaining an at-large voting system in a manner which violated Section 2." It enjoined the county from using that system, noting that the "Order is radically not a condemnation of the citizenry of Charleston County but rather a recognition that the specific bulwark of an at-large system, in twisted concert with the particular geographic and historical realities of this County, unlawfully and institutionally inhibit a community of voters in Charleston County from equal access to the electoral process."[24]

The county appealed. In July 2003, the 4th Circuit Appeals Court found that historic voting in the county was racially polarized and that minority candidates had mostly not been successful in seeking office, two conditions that are recognized under the law as showing discriminatory effects of the voting system in the county.[22] As of July of that year, the 4th Circuit Court affirmed the District Court's ruling,[25] and on 29 April 2004 issued its written decision affirming the District Court.[21] Based on historical and economic analysis, the courts found that race was a more important issue than partisanship in influencing the outcome of the elections.[21] The county appealed to the US Supreme Court, and a certiorari was denied in November 2004.[26]

The County Council system was changed in 2004 to elect individuals from nine single-member districts, with members serving four-year staggered terms. As of January 2015, elected members of the council include 4 White Republicans, 2 White Democrats and 3 African-American Democrats.[27] Republican Elliott Summey was elected by council members as chairman, replacing Democrat Teddie Pryor, who had served for six years. Summey had served as his vice-chair for five years. Pryor was first elected to the council in 2004. Summey was first elected in 2008.[28]

Charleston County is split between South Carolina's 1st congressional district, represented by Republican Nancy Mace, and South Carolina's 6th congressional district, represented by Democrat Jim Clyburn.[29]

In 2020, Joe Biden received 55.5% of the vote, the best Democratic performance since Franklin Roosevelt in 1944.

Politics Edit

United States presidential election results for Charleston County, South Carolina[30]
Year Republican Democratic Third party
No.  % No.  % No.  %
2020 93,297 42.63% 121,485 55.51% 4,075 1.86%
2016 75,443 42.78% 89,299 50.64% 11,603 6.58%
2012 77,629 48.01% 81,487 50.39% 2,591 1.60%
2008 69,822 45.21% 82,698 53.55% 1,914 1.24%
2004 70,297 51.57% 63,758 46.77% 2,261 1.66%
2000 58,229 52.23% 49,520 44.42% 3,727 3.34%
1996 48,675 50.34% 43,571 45.06% 4,442 4.59%
1992 47,403 48.00% 40,095 40.60% 11,251 11.39%
1988 49,149 59.28% 32,977 39.77% 790 0.95%
1984 53,779 63.83% 29,481 34.99% 1,000 1.19%
1980 44,111 55.13% 32,727 40.90% 3,174 3.97%
1976 34,010 49.18% 34,328 49.64% 817 1.18%
1972 39,863 68.79% 16,855 29.09% 1,229 2.12%
1968 24,282 43.45% 18,343 32.83% 13,255 23.72%
1964 32,509 69.06% 14,564 30.94% 0 0.00%
1960 21,223 63.86% 12,010 36.14% 0 0.00%
1956 7,487 29.86% 4,028 16.07% 13,558 54.07%
1952 20,087 66.85% 9,959 33.15% 0 0.00%
1948 562 4.05% 2,660 19.15% 10,671 76.81%
1944 1,184 13.80% 6,260 72.95% 1,137 13.25%
1940 1,372 14.42% 8,145 85.58% 0 0.00%
1936 417 4.95% 8,015 95.05% 0 0.00%
1932 451 7.73% 5,351 91.74% 31 0.53%
1928 1,759 28.95% 4,298 70.75% 18 0.30%
1924 361 11.94% 2,554 84.49% 108 3.57%
1920 373 11.25% 2,929 88.36% 13 0.39%
1916 129 6.26% 1,929 93.64% 2 0.10%
1912 34 1.75% 1,760 90.35% 154 7.91%
1908 347 15.82% 1,814 82.68% 33 1.50%
1904 195 10.03% 1,750 89.97% 0 0.00%
1900 271 13.55% 1,729 86.45% 0 0.00%
1896 1,262 36.36% 1,660 47.82% 549 15.82%
1892 430 21.55% 1,564 78.40% 1 0.05%

Law enforcement Edit

Sheriff Kristin Graziano was elected in 2020, becoming the first woman and first openly gay person to serve as sheriff in South Carolina.[31]

Emergency services Edit

Volunteer Rescue Squad Edit

The Volunteer Rescue Squad consists of over 50 members and a physician. Members are certified in a variety of emergency skills, and many members are first responders.[32]

EMS and local hospitals Edit

Emergency medical services (EMS) for the city are provided by Charleston County Emergency Medical Services (CCEMS) & Berkeley County Emergency Medical Services (BCEMS). The city is served by the EMS and 911 services of both Charleston and Berkeley counties since the city is part of both counties.[33]

Charleston is the primary medical center for the eastern portion of the state. The city has several major hospitals located in the downtown area: Medical University of South Carolina Medical Center (MUSC), Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center,[34] and Roper Hospital.[35] MUSC is the state's first school of medicine, the largest medical university in the state, and the sixth-oldest continually operating school of medicine in the United States. The downtown medical district is experiencing rapid growth of biotechnology and medical research industries coupled with substantial expansions of all the major hospitals. Additionally, more expansions are planned or underway at another major hospital located in the West Ashley portion of the city: Bon Secours-St Francis Xavier Hospital.[36] The Trident Regional Medical Center[37] located in the City of North Charleston and East Cooper Regional Medical Center[38] located in Mount Pleasant also serve the needs of residents of the city of Charleston.

Education Edit

Charleston County School District is the school district for the entire county.[39]

Recreation Edit

The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) operates numerous facilities within Charleston County.[40]

Beach parks
Fishing piers
Marinas and boat landings
  • Cooper River Marina
  • Multiple county-wide boat landings
Day parks
Water parks
  • Splash Island at Palmetto Islands County Park
  • Splash Zone at James Island County Park
  • Whirlin' Waters at North Charleston Wannamaker County Park

Off-leash dog parks are offered at James Island, Palmetto Islands, and North Charleston Wannamaker County Park.

James Island County Park, approximately 11 minutes by car from downtown Charleston, features a 50-foot climbing wall and bouldering cave; cabin, RV, and tent camping facilities; rental facilities, fishing dock, challenge course, kayaking programs, summer camps, paved trails, and many special events such as the Lowcountry Cajun Festival (usually the first weekend in April), East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival (3rd weekend in April), Holiday Festival of Lights (mid-November through the first of the year), and the summer outdoor reggae concerts.[41]

Communities Edit

Cities Edit

Towns Edit

Census-designated places Edit

Unincorporated communities Edit

Former communities Edit

Districts Edit

  • Awendaw-McClellanville Consolidated Fire District, made up of unincorporated parts of Northern Charleston County, the Town of Awendaw, and the Town of McClellanville.[42]
  • James Island Public Service District, made up of unincorporated parts of the island.[43]
  • North Charleston Public Service District, responsible for sewer lines and treatment in the City of North Charleston.[44]
  • St. John's Fire District, serving Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, unincorporated John's Island, and Wadmalaw Island.[45]
  • Saint Andrews Public Service District, made up of unincorporated parts of West Ashley.[46]
  • St. Pauls Fire District, made up of all of the Towns of Hollywood, Ravenel, Meggett and unincorporated parts of the southern end of Charleston County.[47]
  • West Ashley

Population ranking Edit

The population ranking is based on a 2023 estimate of Charleston County.[48]

= county seat

Rank Name Type Population
(2023 estimate)
1 Charleston City 160,403
2 North Charleston City 121,949
3 Mount Pleasant Town 93,757
4 Summerville Town 53,322
5 Ladson CDP 17,502
6 James Island Town 11,782
7 Hollywood Town 5,644
8 Isle of Palms City 4,453
9 Ravenel Town 2,636
10 Folly Beach City 2,119
11 Seabrook Island Town 2,144
12 Kiawah Island Town 2,066
13 Sullivan's Island Town 1,943
14 Meggett Town 1,393
15 Awendaw Town 1,380
16 Lincolnville Town 1,167
17 McClellanville Town 616
18 Adams Run CDP 442
19 Rockville Town 144

Notable people Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Charleston County, South Carolina". Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  3. ^ "Charleston County, South Carolina". Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  4. ^ "Charleston County, South Carolina". Retrieved September 7, 2022.
  5. ^ "2020 County Gazetteer Files - South Carolina". United States Census Bureau. August 23, 2022. Retrieved September 10, 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "SCDNR Public Lands". Retrieved April 1, 2023.
  7. ^ a b "U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Charleston County, South Carolina". Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  8. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  9. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  10. ^ Forstall, Richard L., ed. (March 27, 1995). "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  11. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. April 2, 2001. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  12. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 22, 2016. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  13. ^ "Explore Census Data". Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  15. ^ "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  16. ^ "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  17. ^ "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on February 13, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  18. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  19. ^ Charlie B. Tyler, "The South Carolina Governance Project", University of South Carolina, 1998, p. 221
  20. ^ Tyler (1998), "The South Carolina Governance Project"], p. 222
  21. ^ a b c d UNITED STATES v. CHARLESTON COUNTY SOUTH CAROLINA (Decided: 29 April 2004) Archived 10 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine, US Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, accessed 22 January 2015
  22. ^ a b c d United States v. Charleston County, SC, Nos. 03-2111; 03-2112, Dept. of Justice, Appeals for the 4th Circuit Court
  23. ^ a b c DAVID FIRESTONE (January 19, 2001). "U.S. Sues Charleston County, S.C., Alleging Violation of Black Voting Rights". New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  24. ^ "U.S. v. CHARLESTON COUNTY | 316 F.Supp.2d 268 (2003) | pp2d2681559 |". Leagle. Archived from the original on April 11, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  25. ^ "CIVIL RIGHTS ACCOMPLISHMENTS: ACTIVELY ENFORCING THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965" Archived 2015-01-23 at the Wayback Machine, Press Release, Department of Justice, 23 July 2003, accessed 22 January 2015
  26. ^ Cases Raising Claims Under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act: United States v. Charleston County (D. S.C. 2001) Archived 2015-01-24 at the Wayback Machine, Civil Rights Division, US Dept. of Justice, 2005
  27. ^ "Charleston County Council", Charleston County, SC, accessed 22 January 2015
  28. ^ Prentiss Findlay, "Elliott Summey becomes new Charleston County Council chairman", The Post and Courier, 6 January 2015
  29. ^ "South Carolina Senators, Representatives, and Congressional District Maps". Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  30. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  31. ^ Emily Williams (November 12, 2020). "Understand SC: Charleston's next sheriff talks reform after wave of new sheriffs elected". Post and Courier. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  32. ^ Charleston County Volunteer Rescue Squad Website
  33. ^ "Emergency Medical Services (EMS)". Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  34. ^ "Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center". Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  35. ^ Messmer, Carly. "Charleston Hospital – Roper Hospital – Roper St. Francis – Roper St. Francis".
  36. ^ "Roper St. Francis Healthcare | Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital". Archived from the original on April 20, 2009. Retrieved December 14, 2009.
  37. ^ [1][dead link]
  38. ^ RC. "Compassionate Pregnancy & Child Birth Services – East Cooper Medical Center". Archived from the original on February 1, 2009.
  39. ^ "2020 CENSUS - SCHOOL DISTRICT REFERENCE MAP: Charleston County, SC" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 9, 2022. Retrieved August 1, 2022. - Text list
  40. ^ "Charleston County Parks and Recreation | Official Website". Archived from the original on September 3, 2013. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  41. ^ "James Island County Park | Charleston County Parks and Recreation". Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  42. ^ "Awendaw Fire Department". Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  43. ^ "James Island Public Service District – Serving James Island, some residents of Charleston and Folly Beach.h." Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  44. ^ "Public Service Districts | Charleston County Government". Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  45. ^ "St. John's Fire District". St. John's Fire District. Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  46. ^ "FAQ". SAPSD. Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  47. ^ "St Paul Fire Department | Hollywood, SC". Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  48. ^ "Charleston County SC - Cities, Towns, Neighborhoods, & Subdivisions". Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  49. ^ Dorie J. Gilbert and Ednita M. Wright, African American Women and HIV/AIDS, Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Company, 2003, p. 154, accessed 23 January 2009

External links Edit

32°49′N 79°54′W / 32.82°N 79.90°W / 32.82; -79.90