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Rainbow Row, Charleston

4.1
#13 of 38 in Sightseeing in Charleston
Landmark Tourist Spot
Rainbow Row is the name for a series of thirteen colorful historic houses in Charleston, South Carolina. It represents the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the United States. The houses are located north of Tradd St. and south of Elliott St. on East Bay Street, that is, 79 to 107 East Bay Street. The name Rainbow Row was coined after the pastel colors they were painted as they were restored in the 1930s and 1940s. It is a popular tourist attraction and is one of the most photographed parts of Charleston.HistoryRainbow Row originally fronted directly on the riverfront of the Cooper River, but that land was subsequently filled in. Merchants constructed commercial buildings with stores on the first (ground) floor and living quarters above. Most of the buildings had no interior access between the first and second floors; exterior stairs were located in the yards behind the houses. In 1778, a fire destroyed much of the neighborhood, and only 95 to 101 East Bay Street were spared.After the Civil War, this area of Charleston devolved into near slum conditions. In the 1920s, Susan Pringle Frost, the founder of the Society for the Preservation of Old Dwellings, now the Preservation Society of Charleston, bought six of the buildings, but she lacked the money to restore them immediately. In 1931, Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge purchased a section of these, house numbering 99 through 101 East Bay, and began to renovate them. She chose to paint these houses pink based on a colonial Caribbean color scheme. Other owners and future owners followed suit, creating the "rainbow" of pastel colors present today. The coloring of the houses helped keep the houses cool inside as well as give the area its name. By 1945, most of the houses had been restored.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
873 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • Very touristy spot here. We were told it is one of the most photographed spots in the U.S. It very unique and cool to see a long row of houses, each it's own unique style and color. A short walk from ...  more »
  • I'm not sure how this is an 'attraction', it's a small group of houses painted multiple colors with a walkway. It's nice to look at as you walk by, but I do not recommend devoting any time to this.  more »
  • This entire neighborhood and area around the Rainbow Row is stunning and so charming, I wouldn't go out of my way to land on the "Rainbow Row" itself as it doesn't seem to offer a lot that the rest of...  more »
Google
  • Nice place to walk after lunch or dinner. The colorful row of townhouses looks really cute during the day. Proximity to major restaurants and waterfront park makes it an easily accessible place.
  • Venerable Rainbow Row, the most-pictured landmark in Charleston, is a must-see. These 13 contiguous Georgian-architecture buildings were built 1748 to 1845 as a waterfront commercial district. They were designed to be stores on the lower level, with residences upstairs. The colorful paint was added by an owner in the '30's.
  • Beautiful houses. The history of them alone is awe inspiring. I was amazed at the narrowness of the fronts but how deep the lots were.
  • Cute row of colorful houses! I would say the only thing is there is a lot of car traffic and parked cars which obstruct the nice view. Great photo opps in front of the houses and flower planters.
  • Beautiful historic street along East Bay in Charleston. Definitely a photoop you don't want to miss. Just come early to beat traffic.

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Where to stay in Charleston

Charleston is serviced by dozens of local hotels and practically every major U.S. chain. Expect to pay top dollar for a room on the downtown peninsula, particularly if you wish to stay in one of the historic hotels. The upside of taking a room there is the proximity of all major attractions--you won't need a car to explore and enjoy your visit. Less expensive options are available in North Charleston, West Ashley, and Mount Pleasant, where you'll find all kinds of inns for the budget-conscious traveler.
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