What is it about cobblestone streets lined with those smooth oblong rocks that make us do a double-take? Charleston, South Carolina has many of these cherished roads – rock-lined paths that take us into the past as we cross their uneven, yet perfectly smooth surfaces.
Cobblestones, now a novelty, were once very common and were used largely as ballast on colonial ships to weigh them down when they didn't have enough cargo.
As a result, many of the stones ended up on wharves as they were removed upon arrival to make room for the cargo. Eventually, Charlestonians grew tired of muddy, sandy streets and so the stones ended up being plopped into the soft ground to make the streets more navigable for carriages and horses.
Here are some of the cobblestone streets still in place in the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina.
1. Maiden Lane
It's thought that at one time, Charleston had more than 10 miles of cobblestone streets.
2. Philadelphia Alley
Only a handful remain today, and a few, like Philadelphia Alley, are a combination of cobblestone and Belgian block or red brick.
Although, 25 years ago Philadelphia Alley was more dirt than block or stone. Who's to say if the surface was restored to a previous state or just covered in cobblestones and block/brick to conform.
3. Chalmers Street
Perhaps the most famous street in all of Charleston, Chalmers Street is often referred to as "Labor Lane."
In the 18th and 19th centuries Chalmers' cobblestones were set in sand (not mortar) and made for a very bumpy ride.
Charleston lore tells a tale of the scores of pregnant women who, upon riding over Chalmers' uneven cobblestones, would go into labor. Thus, the nickname "Labor Lane." Is it fact or fiction?
4. Gillon Street
Who can really say? But one thing's for sure: one trip over a cobblestone street in your vehicle may convert you into a believer. Just think about how it felt in a carriage!
5. N. Adgers Wharf
Charleston has managed to preserve more than a couple of these wonderful old cobblestone streets.
N Adgers Wharf will carry you down a lovely old street in the direction of Charleston's harbor.
The street is paved with cobblestones and some Belgian block and lined with wonderful old homes and buildings.
6. S Adger's Wharf
On the next street over, you'll find S Adgers Wharf - also lined with gorgeous trees and old homes and headed in the direction of the water.
Both intersect Charleston's well-traveled East Bay Street and are steps away from the famous Rainbow Row.
7. Longitude Lane
Two of the "streets" featured here are so narrow they're actually more like "alleys." Number two above, Philadelphia Alley and here, Longitude Lane.
Longitude Lane is an amazing walk into a narrow navigable street with 2-3 old single-family homes you'll be sure to gawk at - both for their beauty and the fact that someone actually lives on this skinny cobbled street.
We thought you might want to see these up close. So we've rounded up the seven above cobblestone streets in Charleston's historic district and dropped them into a self-guided expedition for you to uncover each one in person. Find a cool morning or breezy evening and you should be able to reach them all on foot in under 30 minutes.
Although this ultimate Charleston "road-trip" actually requires no vehicle, you can get to them all by car if you wish.
Here's a link
to the Google walking map . You'll find these seven cobblestone streets in South Carolina too charming for words.
Have you encountered any cobblestone streets in Charleston? What about other cities in South Carolina? We’d love to know in our comments!