The City Magazine Since 1975

Window Shopping

December 2016
Window Shopping
In this photograph, taken on Christmas Eve 1937, pedestrians are beckoned by lower King’s window displays

Although an insignificant thoroughfare throughout the 1700s, King Street became Charles Towne’s mercantile mecca by the Antebellum Period. As the city grew, the focus of expansion shifted from east-west to north-south, a trend we see exemplified by the retail-rich King Street. In this photograph, taken on Christmas Eve 1937, pedestrians are beckoned by lower King’s window displays; we may surmise that these last-minute shoppers were headed to Walgreens Drugs, located at 270 King, for a hot meal or malted milkshake at the soda counter. After refueling, they may have walked half a block to the Kress “five-and-dime” store at 281-283 King for stocking stuffers, or to the Wilbur-Rogers Clothing Store at 273 King for a single-breasted suit or Panama hat. Today, Charlestonians may follow the same route as their metropolitan forebearers, visiting, respectively, River Street Sweets, H & M, and Lucky Brand. While the soda counter is unfortunately no more, beleaguered shoppers may end their night with a meal at Sermet’s Downtown, located at 276 King Street, which served as a home for the South Carolina Power Company nearly 80 years ago. 

Photograph by Morton Brailsford Paine, courtesy of The Charleston Museum 

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