Today approximately 4.51 million people visit Charleston annually, generating an estimated economic impact of $3.22 billion.
Founded and settled by English colonists in 1670, Charleston grew from a colonial seaport to a wealthy city by the mid-eighteenth century. Through the mid-nineteenth century, Charleston’s economy prospered due to its busy seaport and the cultivation of rice, cotton, and indigo.
In April of 1861, Confederate soldiers fired on Union-occupied Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, thus signaling the beginning of the Civil War. Charleston was slow to recover from the devastation of the war. However, its pace of recovery became the foundation of the city’s greatest asset – its vast inventory of historically significant architecture. Short on capital after the war, Charleston was forced to repair its existing damaged buildings instead of replacing them.
After the war, Charleston gradually lessened its dependence on agriculture and rebuilt its economy through trade and industry. Construction of the Navy Yard in 1904, just north of the city’s boundaries, pushed Charleston vigorously into the twentieth century. During the first few decades of the 1900’s, industrial and port activities increased dramatically. Later, major sources of capital came from the Charleston Naval Base, the area’s medical industry and the tourism industry.