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Rainbow Row

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

83-107 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

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expert
Colm
Local tour guide
"Be sure to visit Rainbow Row early in the morning when the soft light perfectly accentuates the pastel colors of the houses and the streets are less crowded for photos. Also, locals know to stroll the nearby waterfront for a wonderful view of the harbor, a perfect complement to the charm of Rainbow Row."

What is Rainbow Row?

Rainbow Row is the name for a charming stretch of 13 historic houses on East Bay Street in the heart of Charleston, South Carolina. This iconic cluster is known for its pastel-colored facades, Georgian architecture, and its picturesque place in Charleston's history. Located near the waterfront, these homes are amongst the most photographed in the city, and for good reason—their vibrant hues are quite the sight when the soft light of the lowcountry washes over them. Here's a little-known fact: the colors of Rainbow Row aren't just for show; they historically had practical purposes such as reflecting sunlight and indicating different types of merchandise sold within.

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History of Rainbow Row

The history of Rainbow Row is a captivating tale dating back to the mid-18th century. These homes were built around 1740 and were originally used by merchants who had stores on the ground floor and lived above their establishments. However, their current appearance is the result of a 20th-century revitalization effort. After the Civil War and the subsequent decline of this area, Dorothy Porcher Legge purchased a section of these homes in the 1930s. She is credited with initiating the trend of painting these homes in pastel shades, which was inspired by Colonial Caribbean color schemes. This effort sparked a community-wide renewal, and the once dilapidated area became one of Charleston's most beloved neighborhoods—a process I affectionately refer to as Charleston's "rainbow revolution".

Why is Rainbow Row Important?

Rainbow Row's importance goes beyond its aesthetic appeal. It is a tangible representation of Charleston's resilience and commitment to preservation. The homes stand as a testament to the city's ability to restore and cherish its historical landmarks, turning them into a vibrant district alive with culture and beauty. These colorful homes have also become a symbol of Charleston and are emblematic of the city's rich architectural and cultural history. They remind us locals, and inform visitors, that taking the time to restore and care for historical treasures can breathe new life into a community. Have you ever thought about how a coat of paint can signify a new beginning? Well, Rainbow Row is a testament to that.

Things to Do & See at Rainbow Row

One of the best ways to experience Rainbow Row is simply by taking a leisurely stroll along East Bay Street, absorbing the ambiance of this historic area. Photography enthusiasts will find plenty of inspiration here, as the unique colors of the homes provide a perfect backdrop for snapping that quintessential Charleston shot. If you're keen on history, consider joining one of the many guided walking tours that delve into the stories behind the homes; they enhance your visit with anecdotes that you won't find in guidebooks.

If an immersive experience is what you're after, continue your walk along the Battery, explore nearby Waterfront Park, or visit the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon—hauntingly beautiful, literally and figuratively. The Charleston harbor views are unmatched, and you might spot a dolphin or two in the waters. As the evening falls, I often recommend grabbing a bite at one of the many exceptional restaurants in the vicinity—Charleston's culinary scene is a great way to taste the local culture, and it’s all just a stone's throw from Rainbow Row's vibrant facades. Which dish will be your favorite reflection of Charleston's charm?

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Frequently asked questions

What is Rainbow Row?

Rainbow Row is a historic and charming stretch of 13 colorful historic houses along East Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina. It's one of the most photographed parts of Charleston and known for its vibrant pastel colors.

Why is Rainbow Row in Charleston so famous?

Rainbow Row is famous for its unique history and beautiful array of pastel-colored houses. It represents Charleston's restoration and preservation efforts and has become an iconic symbol of the city's rich architectural heritage.

Can you tour the inside of the houses on Rainbow Row?

No, the houses on Rainbow Row are private residences and are not open to public tours. However, visitors can admire the exteriors of the homes and learn about the history of the area on various walking tours.

What is the best time to visit Rainbow Row?

The best time to visit Rainbow Row is in the morning or late afternoon when the sunlight enhances the colors of the houses and the street is less crowded, providing better opportunities for photography.

How do I get to Rainbow Row?

Rainbow Row is located on East Bay Street in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. It is within walking distance from many attractions in the historic district, and can also be reached by bicycle, car, or public transportation.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

83-107 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401, USA

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps