History of Broad Street
By Eleanor Smythe
. This South of Broad article will feature Broad Street, a main artery that includes twelve blocks between Lockwood Boulevard and East Bay Street. The South of Broad neighborhood has a rich history, from the original walled city to the expansion of Murray Boulevard.
Despite natural disasters and economic downturns, Charleston has preserved Broad Street and
its rich colonial history, stunning 18th and 19th century architecture, and pedestrian orientation.
During the 1700s, the eastern portion of Broad Street was occupied solely by merchants and
craftsmen until the "Four Corners of Law" (Federal Courthouse and Post Office circa 1896, the County Courthouse originally built in 1753, City Hall circa 1899-1804, and St. Michael's Episcopal Church built between 1752 and 1761) were built on their respective
corners of Broad and Meeting Streets. The collection of buildings transformed Charleston into a
legal and financial capital. Towards the East, the 1771 Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
terminates Broad at East Bay Street and creates one of the most picturesque and photographed
vistas in Charleston.
West of Legare Street, Broad transitions into a residential setting dominated by a Live Oak and palm tree canopy, 19th century frame houses with intimate front yards, and the nine-acre Colonial Lake Park at the corner of Rutledge Avenue and Ashley, which was recently renovated by the Parks Conservancy.
Charleston has adopted numerous downtown plans that have continued to protect and enhance
Broad Street's unique character. Bluestone sidewalks, Palmetto trees, and gas street lights add
to the street's irresistible charm. Unlike other colonial cities, which have converted their civic
buildings into museums, Broad Street's are still used for their original purposes because of the
careful planning and preservation efforts that have helped them transition into the 21st century.
Today Broad Street is home to various businesses, residences and restaurants.
DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS, FEATURES
• The Grand Model of Charleston laid out the streets of the city's peninsula in 1680,
including Broad Street as an east-west connector
• Oldest frame structure in Charleston is constructed at 106 Broad St. (1715)
• St. Michael's Episcopal Church authorized by Common House of Assembly in 1751
• The State House cornerstone laid at the corner of Meeting and Broad Streets in 1756
• British siege of Charleston in 1779, destroying many buildings on Broad Street
• Wetlands filled in to develop western portion of Broad Street (1792)
• Federal Courthouse constructed at the "Four Corners of Law" (1886)