Looking at Waterfront Park now, you would never guess that not so long ago in the history of Charleston, this once bustling area had declined to the point that it was almost unrecognizable as the busy section of harbor that it once was.
In the area of Charleston Harbor where we find Waterfront Park today, there were once very busy wharfs and ship terminals. Eventually the area began to decline, as sometimes happens, and by June of 1955, when fire ripped through a steamship terminal site, this part of the harbor was in ruins. The area was overgrown and strewn with the charred remains of the fire, mingling with rutted, graveled parking lots.
When Joseph P. Riley Jr. became Mayor, he made it a priority to make improvements to the area. He wanted to build a park. Despite a setback due to a hurricane that came through the area months before the park was set to open, on May 11, 1990, Waterfront Park opened to the public.
Waterfront Park consists of 8 acres along Charleston Harbor and nearby Cooper River. Just the view and the soft ocean breezes is enough to make anyone want to spend an afternoon.
The park is popular with both residents and tourists. The pier is a popular place to walk with children and the wading fountains are always a hit with families during the hot summer months. Spacious lawns and quaint garden areas are calling you to join them for a picnic. Complete with walking and jogging paths, picnic tables, wooden swings and large shade trees, Waterfront Park is the perfect place to spend a lazy summer day.
In 2007, Waterfront Park won a Landmark Award for maintaining its original design while still remaining relevant in Charleston. If you are visiting Charleston for the first time, you can make a whole afternoon of visiting Waterfront Park by combining it with a trip to nearby City Market or stopping for lunch down the street on East Bay.