Rainbow Row, Charleston

Rainbow Row, Charleston (must see)

Rainbow Row, a series of thirteen pastel-colored mansions facing the Cooper River, is one of the most iconic and photographed sights in the United States. The vibrant, historically accurate colors are a testament to Charleston's Caribbean heritage, a legacy of the English settlers from Barbados who were among the city's earliest residents.

These homes are exceptionally old, considering Charleston's history of fires, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Most of them were built between 1730 and 1750 when they were located right along the Cooper River, serving as storefronts on the wharf. Later, the street was built on top of landfill, creating the current landscape.

Various myths surround the choice of colors. Some claim that intoxicated sailors returning from the port could remember their lodgings based on color, while others suggest that the colors were chosen to indicate the buildings' purpose as stores, making it easier for illiterate slaves to identify where they could shop.

One way or another, each of these houses has a fascinating story to tell about its origin and inhabitants. Despite facing natural calamities and the Civil War, they have remarkably remained intact and have weathered the test of time. If you examine them closely, you can see signs of renovations, including earthquake rods reinforcing the structures to ensure their stability.

Rainbow Row also holds significant importance in American historic preservation. These were the first Charleston homes to undergo restoration and recovery from early-20th-century deterioration. The restoration efforts on Rainbow Row directly inspired the creation of the Preservation Society of Charleston, the first organization of its kind in the United States.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Charleston. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Rainbow Row on Map

Sight Name: Rainbow Row
Sight Location: Charleston, USA (See walking tours in Charleston)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Charleston, South Carolina

Create Your Own Walk in Charleston

Create Your Own Walk in Charleston

Creating your own self-guided walk in Charleston is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Harleston Village Walking Tour

Harleston Village Walking Tour

Founded in the 18th century, the historic Harleston Village is a charming neighborhood in Charleston, South Carolina. The rich past and vibrant present of this area make it a popular destination for tourists.

At the heart of Harleston Village lies the College of Charleston, an esteemed institution of higher learning, established in 1770, adding a great deal of academic flair to the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Charleston Introduction Walking Tour

Charleston Introduction Walking Tour

A popular tourist destination and a major port city in South Carolina, Charleston is fit to impress anyone with its Southern charm, friendliness, and rich history. Founded in 1670 as Charles Town, honoring King Charles II of England, this was the first comprehensively planned town in America.

The city's significance in American history is tied to its role as a key slave trading port. The...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
French Quarter Walking Tour

French Quarter Walking Tour

A historic district in downtown Charleston, The French Quarter is named so for the high concentration of French merchants that once lived in the area and left their mark on it. The name was coined in 1973, when preservation efforts began for warehouse buildings on the Lodge Alley block. That same year the district was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The busy neighbourhood...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Downtown Historical Churches Tour

Downtown Historical Churches Tour

Charleston, South Carolina, is also sometimes called the “Holy City.” This is due to the large number of churches found here. Needless to say, the most fascinating of them are concentrated in the Downtown area, each with its unique charm and significance.

Among such temples of distinction is Saint Matthew's Church, an enduring symbol of Charleston's German Lutheran community. Its...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Historical Houses Tour

Historical Houses Tour

Charleston is steeped in history. Walking the colorful, narrow cobblestone streets of one of America's oldest towns, with its stunningly preserved colonial homes, you can see its story play out before your eyes practically everywhere you turn. Indeed, Charleston is among the most celebrated places in the U.S. to explore fine examples of American architecture and its progression through time.
...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles