Rainbow Row is one of the most photographed locations in Charleston, South Carolina, popular with photographers, Instagrammers, and tourists alike. The charming, pastel facades of the homes are an easily-recognised and much-beloved hallmark of this charming southern city.
Rainbow Row’s Georgian houses (the longest stretch of them in America) face the Cooper River; at the time of their original construction, they fronted directly onto the water before the land was gradually filled in and the riverfront pushed back. One popular legend has it that the homes were brightly painted so that sailors returning from sea could recognise them, but in reality this picturesque stretch is due to an idea by an enterprising Charleston woman.
Once considered a dangerous, undesirable slum of the city, the thirteen houses of Rainbow Row were transformed in the 1930s and 40s thanks to the efforts of Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge.
She reinvented several of the historic homes, electing to paint them bright pink and thus kickstarting a revitalization effort of the area. The pink house, with its distinct two-garage front, became the anchor of Rainbow Row.
Other homeowners did the same, and the result of their efforts is a lovely stretch of East Bay Street.
On a pleasant day in Charleston, the row hosts a constant stream of tourists who have come to see the historic pastel homes for themselves.
It’s always busy, but Rainbow Row should be a stop on any first-time visitor’s itinerary to Charleston as an iconic landmark of the city.
Have you been to Charleston? Did you love Rainbow Row, or was it overrated? I’d love to hear about your experience!