Downtown Charleston's neighborhoods, explained 

A borough by any other name

From our 2016 College Student Guide.

Learning your way around campus is one thing, but on top of that, many new students have found themselves in a completely foreign city that is equal parts 1800s and modern day. Don't let the anachronisms and odd names get you down though. Here's a simple guide to what's what around the peninsula.

1. Harleston Village

No, we didn't forget the "C." Harleston Village, while the bane of spell-checks everywhere, is actually quite the popular spot for college students. Those with the pleasure of calling this area home will find themselves a stone's throw from most CofC academic buildings and a short walk away from some choice hangouts. You've got a healthy selection of coffee shops without "star" or "bucks" in the name, such as Black Tap and Kudu, as well as plenty of options for lunch close by campus, like Caviar and Bananas, or the ever-affordable, late-night haven that is Jimmy John's.

2. Radcliffeborough

Welcome to the party. Running from Calhoun to Morris between Rutledge and King, Radcliffborough puts you in prime territory to live it up. In this little stretch of Charleston, you'll find two of the most popular bars among of-age students — A.C.'s and Midtown. A.C.'s serves up greasy and good late-night eats, although we recommend checking out their menu any hour of the day. A five dollar cheeseburger for lunch, dinner, or a snack sounds like a good damned deal to us. Radcliffeborough is also home to the Addlestone Library, which we hope you visit, ya know, sometimes.

3. Cannonborough/Elliotborough

A good lesson to learn early in college is to take the good with the bad. The Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood will help facilitate this. While those who call this neighborhood home will be surrounded by a wealth of dining options like Taco Spot, Fuel, D'Als, and even your own Minibar, you will also be forced to contend with a nightmarish amount of road work that's currently laying waste to the streets. Just keep an eye out for the men and women in the orange vests and hard hats as you make the trek to campus each day and you should be fine. On the bright side, hotdog vendors and food trucks have started to set up shop in the area on weekend nights, so you can grab a quick bite to eat on your walk back from King Street.

4. Ansonborough

Encompassing the Historic Market area, Waterfront Park, and its fair share of hotels, expect to see plenty of tourists traipsing their way through Ansonborough. But in between all that, this heavily residential area offers a quiet retreat away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Charleston, complete with tree-lined streets, Gadsdenboro Park, and a nearby Harris Teeter for those times when you actually have money for groceries.

5. Mazyck-Wraggborough

Caught between King Street and East Bay, those residing in this impossibly-named little slice of Charleston have plenty of options when it comes to unwinding. You can make your way over to Marion Square, which is especially nice when the farmers market is in full swing, or bebop over to Bay Street Biergarten for a game of corn hole, which also could use a better name. In this neighborhood, you'll also find the Charleston County Public Libraries' main branch. Located right next to a Starbucks, this convergence creates some type of studying mecca for those needing to cram.

6. East Side

You'll find more longtime residential areas along the East Side than you will student-friendly apartments — because it's important that people actually try to make their homes on the peninsula. Those looking to rent will want to keep an eye out along Nassau and Columbus streets. Living on the East Side, you'll find yourself near Upper Meeting Street's offerings, with a grocery store, Bi-Lo, and groovy workout studio, Ride-Rev, Charleston's version of SoulCycle.

click to enlarge SCOTT SUCHY
  • Scott Suchy

7. West Side

Warning about the West Side: Whether or not you're a believer in global warming, don't be surprised if you step out your front door to find a foot of water standing between you and class. If this is your first time living on the coast, you may want to invest in a tide chart and some galoshes because those tides do get pretty high on the West Side. Wet socks aside, this residential area does offer a few perks, such as a close proximity to the home of the RiverDogs, Recovery Room, and one of the peninsula's few record stores — The Vinyl Countdown.

8. North Central

As Charleston has grown, North Central has become ground zero for some of the best places to grab a bite in town. Recent additions include barbecue behemoths Lewis and Home Team, as well as burger hot spots Moe's Crosstown and Rutledge Cab Co. But don't let the name fool you. While Rutledge might be able to serve you up something special, they won't give you a ride to class. So make sure you keep that bike in working order for the long commute to campus.

9. Hampton Park Terrace

If you prefer trees and green grass over concrete and commotion, this is the perfect spot for you. Bordering Hampton Park, you'll have plenty of space to walk your dog or take a jog without having to worry about the constant threat of oncoming traffic. Also, after a nice game of flag football or losing your frisbee in the pond, you can grab a bite to eat at The Park Cafe.

10. Wagener Terrace

As a student, you'll likely find yourself in the minority among the families and young professionals that populate Wagener Terrace. This is the neighborhood you move to when it's time to settle down and make a go at being a parent, so don't rub your free, unencumbered youth in everyone's faces if you choose to reside here. If you're a nice enough neighbor, they may even offer you a ride to class in their minivans.

11. South of Broad

This is most likely the side of Charleston you've seen on TV. Horse-drawn carriages populate the streets South of Broad, leading sightseers on tours of Charleston's most historic homes. If you somehow manage to find yourself living in this area, you're going to want to keep it quiet. People paid a lot of money to live in this neighborhood and they don't need to put up with your malarkey. But on the off chance that you do have the cash and tranquil demeanor necessary to hand your hat South of Broad, take the time to enjoy a nice stroll down the Battery and soak up the natural beauty of the harbor.

12. King Street Historic District

This is the part of town you'll probably be hearing the most about. King Street is the heart of Charleston nightlife, so there's a good chance the most wild and crazy stories from your fellow classmates' will start out with "You'll never guess what we saw on King last night." In other words, if you are the only person you know living in this neighborhood, expect plenty of guests. Just make sure you don't let all that's fun about living in Charleston distract you from your studies. Your parents would not be pleased.


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