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Isle of Palms Pier – Isle of Palms, South Carolina

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The Isle of Palms, located in Charleston County, lies across the Intracoastal Waterway from Mount Pleasant, just north of Sullivan’s Island. Originally called Hunting Island by the Sewee Indians, pirates who pillaged the eastern seaboard during the late 16th and early 17th centuries renamed it Long Island in light of the fact that it was the longest island between the Charleston peninsula and Bulls Bay, where colonists constructed a Martello Tower to watch for invading ships.

Isle of Palms Pier

Alistair Nicol of Mt Pleasant, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Its six miles of shoreline are among the most beautiful in the Lowcountry. In 1899, J.S. Lawrence purchased the island and gave it its current name in honor of its abundance of palmetto trees. In 1906, a 50-room resort hotel was built offering the first permanent accommodations on the island. The island became increasingly popular as it became easier to reach.

Isle of Palms Seashore Hotel

Postcard View, F. M. Kirby & Co., Early 1900s

An amusement park with a ferris wheel and pavilion was built in 1912 and existed in some fashion until around 1970. Residents of Charleston could take a ferry into Mt. Pleasant and catch a trolley by rail to the Island. Travel became even easier when the the Grace Memorial Bridge was constructed in 1929 allowing automobile traffic into Mt. Pleasant to catch the trolley. In 1946, a more permanent bridge replaced an earlier one linking the Isle of Palms with neighboring Sullivan’s Island added even more ease to traveling. The island was purchased that same year by developer J.C. Long of the Beach Company.

Isle of Palms Amusement Area

Postcard View, Tichnor Bros., Inc., Boston, Mass.

The Beach Company wanted the Isle of Palms to become a destination for people seeking furlough from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It hoped to create a tourist destination, and in 1953, a new fishing pier was constructed which was touted to be the longest in the Carolinas, reaching out 1,000 feet into the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The pier quickly became a favorite place to take in the scenery of the island and also offered excellent fishing opportunities. Located roughly 17 miles from Downtown Charleston, the island has gained popularity over the years and is now one of the region’s most visited beaches. The pier now belongs to the Sea Cabins and Oceanside Villas. Visitors of the resorts can enjoy fishing, dancing, and walking just as it was intended. For those who aren’t staying at the resorts, the pier still offers excellent opportunities for photography and respite from the intense sun. The pier is no longer the longest in South Carolina; the public pier at Folly Beach extends 45 feet further.

Isle of Palms Pier

Steve Rich of Aiken, 2012 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Newspaper Article on the Isle of Palms Pier Construction

The following article was published in the Charleston News and Courier (now called the Post and Courier) on April 10, 1953. It details the construction of the fishing pier on the Isle of Palms.

Isle of Palms Fishing Pier Construction

Caption: GOING FISHING — Driving the first piling for the 1,000 foot Fishing Pier at the Isle of Palms are Walter I Chapman Jr., mayor of the Isle of Palms, in cab; Robert C. Harley, president of the Exchange Club of the island; and J. E. Long (left), father of the J. C. Long, developer of the island resort. It is family tradition for the elder Mr. Long to be present at the groundbreaking of all new projects undertaken by J. C. and L. D. Long. The pier will be located east of the pavilion and will be the longest fishing pier in the Carolinas. It represents an investment of $100,000.

First Pile Is Driven for Big Isle of Palms Fishing Pavilion

By J. V. NIELSEN JR. News and Courier Staff Writer

A small group of Isle of Palms owners and contractors gathered on the front beach of the Isle of Palms to inaugurate construction of what was described by Mayor Walter I. Chapman Jr. as “the largest single attraction for tourists Charleston will have.”

The occasion was driving of the first pile for the new Isle of Palms Fishing Pier. The 1,000 foot structure will be the longest of the Carolina coast.

Besides Mayor Chapman, the gathering included John E. Long, father of J. C. Long, president of the Beach Co., owners of the pier, who sighted the location for the first pile.

Attending also was Robert C. Hartley, president of the Isle of Palms Exchange Club, which was active in sponsoring the pier, and Frank J. Still, manager of the Beach Co.

After piles have been driven on the beach decking will be constructed on them and the piledriver will be rolled out over the surf on the deck to extend the piling out into the ocean.

“This is the beginning of a big development of the Isle of Palms as a seaside resort,” Mayor Chapman said. “Projects of this nature are needed to attract visitors to Charleston and the island and I am hopeful that this is only the beginning of many such attractions.”

A piling contract has been let to the C. Y. Thomason Co. of Greenwood. The superstructure will be built by the Construction Service Co. of Isle of Palms.

Reflections on the Isle of Palms Pier

Photographer Suzanne Prior shares her photo (below) and says: “While on vacation in August 2017, my husband and I were staying at the Sea Cabins which is located right on the Isle of Palms Beach. One morning I couldn’t sleep and for once I was thankful. I walked down to the
beach and was greeted by this glorious sunrise with the stark contrast of the pier. The colors were amazing!”

Isle of Palms Sunrise

Suzanne Prior of Ladson, 2017 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Contributor Douglas Channer, whose photograph can be seen below, tells us about capturing his photo: “Taken on a VERY warm day in December, it was striking how the contrails contrasted with the sky. It was nearing sunset after a picture-perfect (pardon the pun) day.”

Isle Of Palms Pier Night

Douglas Channer of Summerville, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Add your own reflections here.

Isle of Palms Pier Map

Isle of Palms Pier – Add Info and More Photos

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 Pier, 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!

Please Share Your Thoughts!

The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!

5 Comments about Isle of Palms Pier

Beth C TateNo Gravatar says:
September 9th, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Would like to use this image for a client. How do I reach Steve Hammer?

sandraNo Gravatar says:
September 12th, 2012 at 11:55 am

I was there too. It was beautiful.

`Ann PhillipsNo Gravatar says:
June 15th, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Very good job, Ted. I liked it a lot.

RutNo Gravatar says:
April 27th, 2011 at 8:32 am

This is a beautiful picture!

RickyNo Gravatar says:
February 26th, 2011 at 10:36 pm

We were watching the movie Dear John, and my 7 year old says, “Dad that looks like Isle of Palms.” Sure enough it is! We vacation there every year! We love It.

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