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How the city grew




Marguerite Couturier Steedman


The "Grand Modell of Charles Town" included the lower peninsula city of Charleston up to present-day Beaufain Street. The peninsular area north of the town, from an early period, was called Charles Town Neck, and later Charleston Neck. As the town grew, it continued to be applied always to the area beyond the city limits. The early city directories reserved a separate section for residents of The Neck.

It was some time before all of the area within the Grand Modell was developed. Large tracts persisted, such as Lot No. 80 of the Grand Modell, containing a little over nine acres on the north side of the creek where Market Street now runs. Granted to Sir Peter Colleton and sold by his grandson John Colleton in 1736, the tract was laid out as Colleton Square by 1739. Another large tract of 34 acres located north of Broad Street and west of Archdale Street was laid out by the heirs of Isaac Mazyck in 1742.

Outside the Grand Modell, landowners to whom had been granted large tracts of land or who had acquired them through the years, laid out on The Neck numerous subdivisions of real estate called Boroughs of Villages. In most instances these were given the names of the developing landowners.

The suburbs of Ansonborough, Rhettsbury, Middlesex, the Glebe Lands and Harleston Village were laid out before the Revolution, in the area between the town boundary and the new street called Boundary Street (now Calhoun).

After the Revolution, the city was incorporated in 1783 with Boundary Street as the northern boundary. By an act of March 13, 1789, the boundaries were extended to include the two blocks lying between Meeting and St. Philip streets, south of Hutson and Vanderhorst streets, containing the sites on which the Orphan House and the Tobacco Inspection were to be built. By Acts of December 13, 1815 and December 21, 1822, the eastern and western boundaries were declared to be the channels of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers.

After the Revolution, suburbs were developed north of Boundary Street, including Mazyckborough, Wraggborough, Radcliffeborough, Cannonborough, Elliottborough, Islington,, Hampstead, and the Villages of Washington and Newmarket. The latter, developed on lands of the Blake family, took its name from one of the famous race-tracts, the Newmarket Race Course.

An Act of December 19, 1849, annexed to the city that part of the Parish of St. Philip which lay between the then existing northern boundary (Boundary or Calhoun Street) and a line drawn due west from the Cooper River to the Ashley River, by the junction of Meeting and King streets. This line ran through the center of Mount Pleasant Street and was the city's northern boundary for more than 120 years. The boundary was advanced up The Neck again in 1969, 1970 and 1976.

In 1960, the city began to expand across the Ashley River, with the annexation of a portion of St. Andrew's Parish. Expansion of the city west of the Ashley has continued into the 1980s.

Approximate population figures for the City of Charleston were: 1,000 to 1,200 in 1690; 6,800 in 1742; 12,000 in 1775; 23,300 in 1820; 40,500 in 1860; 52,300 in 1880; 55,807 in 1900; 70,200 in 1950; 66,945 in 1970; 69,510 in 1980. In December 1983 the Trident Chamber ofr Commerce estimated the population of the city at 72,000 and of the metropolitan area at 291,400.