Isle of Palms – Isle of Palms, South Carolina
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Did you know that South Carolina has its own Long Island? Or at least it did at one time. Isle of Palms – one of several beautiful Charleston beaches – was called Hunting Island shortly after English settlers discovered it. The six miles of beach were later known as Long Island, a name credited to pirates. The island did not acquire its current name until 1898 when it was purchased by J.S. Lawrence, who constructed its first resort hotel and gave it the name Isle of Palms for its abundance of native palmettos (Sabal palmetto).
The island’s first inhabitants were Sewee Indians, who reportedly were friendly towards the English when their ships were sighted on the horizon of the Atlantic. According to local lore, the Native Americans swam out to greet the incoming ships, assisting with their safe arrival to shore. Pirates were also known to take refuge here, though beachcombers have yet to discover any treasure other than what the tide brings from the sea.
During the Revolutionary War 2,500 British troops never made it across the notorious Breach Inlet to neighboring Sullivan’s Island to attack Patriots at what is now known as Fort Moultrie. The inlet was too deep to wade across and too shallow to allow for boats. The geography of the inlet was one of several factors that helped Patriots secure a victory at the infamous Battle of Sullivan’s Island. Today it it still inadvisable to enter Breach Inlet, which possesses dangerous riptides.
Isle of Palms was also the point during the Civil War where the CSS H.L. Hunley entered the ocean to sink the USS Housatonic, making it the first submarine to sink an enemy ship. The submarine itself sunk to the ocean floor soon afterwards, to be discovered and recovered in 1995 four miles off the coast of Sullivan’s Island.
After World War II the beach town became a thriving residential area for soldiers returning from war and establishing homes. The addition of the Ben Sawyer Bridge in 1946 further connected people from Mt. Pleasant to the beaches of Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms and created more housing demands. Prior to the construction of this bridge, people crossed to the islands by ferry. In 1993 the Isle of Palms connector bridge was completed, making the beach even more accessible – and more populated. Today the town is a mixture of full-time residents and vacation home owners.
Isle of Palms Info
Address: Palm Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451
Isle of Palms Map
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The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Isle of Palms, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!