Love for Charleston

Cities, I think, are absolutely fascinating.

Especially the idea that the people, culture, architecture and industry of cities across the United States can vary so drastically.

The United States Custom House in Charleston, reflects the city's past as one of the busiest port cities in the nation.

A few weeks ago, I visited Charleston, S.C. during my spring break. It was my first time in Charleston, but also my first time in a true Southern city. I grew up right outside of New York City and attend school a few hours from Chicago, so my conception of a city has always been a place filled with sky-high buildings, honking cars and rushed, unfriendly people.

Charleston was definitely not that kind of place.

Famous Antebellum homes along the Promenade of The Battery. This type of architecture characterized buildings in the Old South from the time of the American Revolution to the beginning of the Civil War. Many of the homes are historic landmarks.

Charleston has a true Southern flavor, which I loved. Not only do people wave or smile at you on the street, but doormen pause to help tourists with directions and drug store owners actually let people use their bathrooms.

Southern charm is a real thing.


The city of Charleston has a very relaxed, quaint feel. Old buildings and narrow cobblestone streets reflect Charleston's preservation of traditional Southern culture.

Of course, the city itself is gorgeous, with its beautiful, pastel-colored Antebellum homes situated right on the water. The historic architecture and city layout gave Charleston a European feel, more so than anywhere else I’ve been on the East Coast.

The Battery in Charleston. Across the harbor sits Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

This vibrant metropolis holds close to its roots — so much of the city’s past remains present. Old stone blocks  even sit on street corners, once used to help men mount their horses, now active reminders of a genteel past.

And if I wasn’t already in love with the place, some key scenes in The Notebook were shot in Charleston. 

Dear Photograph

My friend Laura introduced me to the blog Dear Photograph, which showcases pictures taken of pictures from the past in the present.

Photo Courtesy: Dear Photograph

Some are funny: There’s a reason we had to paint those stairs blue.

Some are cute: The bike I have now goes a little faster.

Some are just touching: Thank you for everything we ever had.

But all the photographs make you think about the relationship between time and place, how quickly people grow and change while places can stay exactly the same.

In a CBS interview founder Taylor Jones said:

“What I’ve learned from blogging is people relate with emotion so if you’re making a blog it has to be good content, content that is going to be able to spread.”

He said he’s gotten “tons of emails” from people who say the blog  has given them a reason to see their parents and look through old photographs together.

To submit, upload your photos to  or email them to DEARPHOTOGRAPH@GMAIL.COM

© All Rights Reserved by and the original owners.

City of the Past

More Toledo Then & Now posts to come. For now, I want you to get a sense of the emptiness in Toledo that I mentioned in my last post, the contrast between tall buildings and beautiful architecture, and “For Sale” signs in just about every other shop window. I don’t want to create the impression that Toledo is a terrible city to live in, because it’s not. Just like with South Bend, if you open up to it, there are things to do in Toledo. And there is definitely history.

It’s just that Toledo’s past seems to hover over every street, over every building that was once “grand” and isn’t anymore. The past is so present; elderly people smile and shake their heads at the thought of the “old days.” It’s really unsettling to watch a Walmart bag roll for a mile down a major street, never passing a car or another person. Because this is not a rural town, this is a city.

Which has made me question the definition of “city”–what even makes a city a city? Is it the big buildings? The arts scene? The people? Can a city ever lose its “cityness?”

I get the sense Toledo has lost something that can never be recovered.  That’s what I want to pinpoint through these posts.

Sometimes I’ll take a walk around my apartment after work hours or on a weekend, and literally pass no one on the streets.

See slideshow below:

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