Posts tagged “South Carolina

Follow the Signs

Posted on May 31, 2012

Billboards dot the roadside along most American highways today, making it difficult to imagine a time when highway signs not only drew close attention but even created a sensation. The following aerial views of two American tourist traps show the importance of highways in delivering visitors. While Wall Drug began as a small-town pharmacy with a Main Street storefront, South of the Border sprouted as a stop along U.S. Highway 301. Although both attractions built their reputations through shrewd advertising along hundreds of miles of roads, as detailed by historians Troy Henderson and Meeghan Kane in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition, the route of Interstate highways helped assure their continuation even as countless other roadside attractions closed after being marooned when the freeways whisked…

History on Hilton Head’s Heel

Posted on May 23, 2012

In John Sayles’s film Sunshine State (2002), one of the key story lines explores the conflict between the longstanding but threatened African American community of Lincoln Beach and a development company intent on building a new resort community called Exley Plantation. The film is patterned loosely on Amelia Island in northern Florida, where American Beach, a historically black beach town, has clung to its property despite some three decades of encroaching resort development, notably by Amelia Island Plantation. The story could have been set on any number of the so-called Sea Islands that stretch some 200 miles northward from Amelia into Georgia and South Carolina. On some islands, small communities of Gullah-speaking residents are descendants of enslaved people who worked rice, cotton, and indigo…

Building the Best Seaside Towns

Posted on May 17, 2012

Coastal Living recently revealed its list of the top 15 “Happiest Seaside Towns” in America. It is perhaps no surprise that the two communities atop the list – #1 Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and #2 Naples, Florida – reflect many years of careful planning as tourist destinations. In both places, a series of development companies with stringent regulations created and sustained compelling visions for these seaside communities. On Kiawah, following years in the hands of lumber interests in the middle years of the twentieth century, the still well-forested barrier island entered the hands of a Saudi Arabian oil company in the 1970s as an almost blank slate. The company drew on the talents of Charles Fraser, who as American Tourism contributor James Tuten details, carefully…

Stretching the Storyline in Charleston

Posted on May 2, 2012

Historic preservation has been the handmaiden of heritage tourism in countless places for more than a century. Originally confined to sites of particularly illustrious historical events and so-called “Great Men,” it emerged in the 19th century as an elite pastime. In the midst of rapid industrialization, urbanization, and immigration in the United States, native-born Americans turned to projects to bolster their own interest in preindustrial America. Places associated with the colonial era, Revolutionary War, and early national period found most favor into the 20th century. Charleston, South Carolina, continues to trade on its trove of architectural gems from the colonial period. Prior to the American Revolution, Charleston was among the preeminent seaport cities in British North America. Fearing the loss of a landscape that…