Modern Floods, Historic Fires, and Unstable Urban Landscapes in Charleston, South Carolina

Author(s): Sarah Platt

Year: 2017


The city of Charleston, South Carolina is situated on a peninsula in a naturally marshy environment threaded with tidal creeks. Since European settlers first began to develop the city in the late seventeenth century, these wet, low-lying areas were drained and filled in to accommodate expansion of the southern metropolis and combat disease. The result is a landscape, both in shape and relief, that has changed dramatically from one generation to the next. Fires, the threat of war, hurricanes, and slave rebellions all contributed to the making and remaking of this urban environment. Captured both in a carefully researched map constructed by Alfred Halsey in the 1950s and represented by a digital Geographic Information System (GIS) generated by the author, this paper argues for a landscape in constant flux that profoundly affects each generation’s relationship to the city around them. In light of recent construction projects on the peninsula destroying below-ground heritage despite robust protections for the built landscape on the surface, this raises important questions regarding archaeological interpretation of these complex urban sites and how those interpretations could be and are represented to the public.

Cite this Record

Modern Floods, Historic Fires, and Unstable Urban Landscapes in Charleston, South Carolina. Sarah Platt. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430876)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -91.274; min lat: 24.847 ; max long: -72.642; max lat: 36.386 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14776