Charleston , Berkeley , and Dorchester. As of the U. Census, the metropolitan statistical area had a total population of , people. North Charleston is the second-largest city in the Charleston—North Charleston—Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area and ranks as the third-largest city in the state; Mount Pleasant and Summerville are the next-largest cities.
These cities combined with other incorporated and unincorporated areas along with the city of Charleston form the Charleston-North Charleston Urban Area with a population of , as of [update]. The traditional parish system persisted until the Reconstruction Era , when counties were imposed. When the city of Charleston was formed, it was defined by the limits of the Parish of St. Michael, now also includes parts of St. Andrew's Parish, and St. John's Parish, although the last two are mostly still incorporated rural parishes.
History[ edit ] The Pink House , the oldest stone building in Charleston, was built of Bermudian limestone at 17 Chalmers Street, between and Main articles: It took seven years before the group arranged for settlement expeditions. In , Governor William Sayle brought over several shiploads of settlers from Bermuda , which lies due east of Charleston although closer to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.
These settlers established Charles Town at Albemarle Point on the west bank of the Ashley River a few miles northwest of the present-day city center. The British Crown did not approve the one attempt to do so in the s.
The settlers declared war on them in October The Charlestonians initially allied with the Westo , a slaving northern tribe that had grown powerful trading for guns with the colonists in Virginia.
The Westo had made enemies of nearly every other tribe in the region, however, and the English turned on them in Destroying the Westo by , the settlers were able to use their improved relations with the Cusabo and other tribes to trade, recapture runaway slaves , and engage in slaving raids of Spanish -allied areas. Not only was this location more defensible, but it also offered access to a fine natural harbor, which accommodated trade with the West Indies. The new town was the 5th-largest in North America by On December 7, , the Lords Proprietors decided to separate the Province of North Carolina from Charles Town's government, although they continued to own and control both regions.
A smallpox outbreak hit in , followed by an earthquake in February whose ensuing fire destroyed about a third of the town. Charles Town suffered between 5 and 8 major yellow fever outbreaks over the first half of the 18th century. It developed a deserved reputation as one of the least healthy locations in British North America for whites, although mistaken observations over the period led some doctors to think that blacks had a natural immunity to the disease.
Both black and white locals appear to have developed a general immunity to the disease by , with future outbreaks lasting until tending to kill only new arrivals, prompting its local name as "stranger's fever". Although it did not have the high fatalities of yellow fever, it caused much illness and was also a major health problem through most of the city's history before dying out in the s after use of pesticides.
Charles Town was fortified according to a plan developed in under Governor Nathaniel Johnson. The early settlement was often subject to attack from sea and land. Both Spain and France contested England's claims to the region. Native Americans and pirates both raided it, though the Yamasee War of the s did not quite reach it.
Charles Town was besieged by the pirate " Blackbeard " for several days in May ; his pirates plundered merchant ships and seized the passengers and crew of the Crowley. Blackbeard released his hostages and left in exchange for a chest of medicine from Governor Robert Johnson. Charlestown was a center for inland colonization of South Carolina , but remained the southernmost point of English settlement on the American mainland until the Province of Georgia was established in The first settlers primarily came from England and its colonies on Barbados and Bermuda.
The latter planters brought African slaves with them who had been purchased in the islands. Early immigrants to the city included Protestant French , Scottish, Irish, and Germans, as well as hundreds of Jews , predominately Sephardi from England and the Netherlands. Catholic emancipation did not proceed in earnest until after the onset of the American Revolution.
By , however, the majority of the colony's population were black Africans. They had been brought to Charlestown on the Middle Passage , first as "servants" and then as slaves.
Many slaves were sold from here. Rainbow Row 's 13 houses along East Bay Street formed the commercial center of the town from the colonial period through the early 20th century. At the foundation of the town, the principal items of commerce were pine timber and pitch for ships and tobacco. The early economy developed around the deerskin trade, in which colonists used alliances with the Cherokee and Creek peoples to secure the raw material used for Europeans' buckskin pants, gloves, and bookbindings.
Records show an average annual export of 54, skins for the years from to At the same time, Indians were used to enslave one another. From to , approximately 40, native men, women, and children were sold through the port, principally to the West Indies but also to Boston and other cities in British North America.
The profitability of growing rice led the planters to pay premiums for slaves from the "Rice Coast" who knew its cultivation; their descendants make up the Gullah. Within three years, British subsidies and high demand had already made it a leading export. The white community had recently been decimated by a malaria outbreak and the rebels killed about 25 white people before being stopped by the colonial militia; the rebellion resulted in whites killing 35 to 50 black people.
The Negro Act also tightened controls, requiring one white for every ten blacks on any plantation and banning slaves from assembling together, growing their own food, earning money, or learning to read. Drums were banned owing to Africans' use of them for signaling, although slaves continued to be permitted string and other instruments. By the midth century, Charlestown, described as "the Jerusalem of American slavery, its capital and center of faith", : From , many were sold from the newly constructed Gadsden's Wharf , where six slave ships at a time could tie up.
The plantations and the economy based on them made this the wealthiest city in British North America  and the largest in population south of Philadelphia. In , the city's 11, inhabitants—half slaves—made it the 4th-largest port after Boston , New York , and Philadelphia. The elite used this wealth to create cultural and social development. America's first theater building was constructed here in ; it was later replaced by today's Dock Street Theater. The Library Society was established in by well-born young men who wanted to share the financial cost to keep up with the scientific and philosophical issues of the day.
This group also helped establish the town's college in , the first in the colony. Until it was acquired by the state university system in , the College of Charleston was the oldest municipally supported college in the United States.