The City Magazine Since 1975

Window Shopping: How King Street developed as a bustling route of commercial activity

Window Shopping: How King Street developed as a bustling route of commercial activity
December 2022
WRITER: 

Today the vibrant thoroughfare hosts some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, hotels, and art galleries





Taken on Christmas Eve 1937, this image from Lowcountry photographer Morton Brailsford Paine shows pedestrians near illuminated storefronts, including the Walgreens drug store at 270 King. Serving as the main road in and out of the city until the mid-1700s, King Street developed as a route of commercial activity centered on the nearby waterfront. Despite economic devastation and record levels of unemployment during the Great Depression, cash-strapped Charlestonians continued to frequent the shopping district, which would eventually be part of a citywide urban revitalization project in the 1950s. Today, the bustling thoroughfare boasts a mix of national and local retailers, as well as restaurants, bars, hotels, art galleries, and businesses.