The City Magazine Since 1975

A Shore Thing

A Shore Thing
July 2016
A quick look back at Isle of Palms history

First inhabited by Sewee Indians (who greeted English settlers by swimming to their ships and carrying them to shore), this seven-mile barrier island, originally called “Hunting Island,” and then “Long Island,” was purchased in 1899 by Dr. Joseph Lawrence, who renamed the yet-to-be-developed locale Isle of Palms, laying the foundation for the land’s transformation into a resort destination. In 1912, Charleston native James Sottile built a pavilion and amusement park that drew large crowds escaping the summer heat and bustle of downtown. After a decline in popularity during the Depression, the island went through a rejuvenation from the 1950s to 1970s, when low-cost housing for World War II vets attracted residents, and the rest of the world started to notice this charming coastal community, lush with its namesake sabal palms. In this photograph, bathing suit-clad beachgoers on the fishing pier (built in 1953) gaze upon the expansive shoreline, frequented by locals and tourists alike.  



Photograph reprinted from Images of America: Isle of Palms by Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer (Arcadia Publishing, 2005)