Colonial Lake, Charleston

4.4
#12 of 14 in Nature in Coastal South Carolina
Colonial Lake is a tidal pond in Charleston, South Carolina with wide walkways around it. The area is used as a park. For many years the lake was known as the Rutledge Street Pond; some residents still call it "The Pond." It acquired the name Colonial Lake in 1881, in honor of the "Colonial Commons" established in 1768.
The lake and its park were part of the Commons established by an Act of the Commons House of Assembly in 1768, setting aside the area forever for public use. The actual lake was created in 1869 when Lynch St. (now Ashley Ave.) was extended south to Broad St., enclosing the area now occupied by the lake. The tradition that the lake was developed as a small boat harbor for planters apparently has no foundation in fact. Most likely, it served as mill pond for a succession of sawmills which operated in the vicinity.
In 1875, a local mill owner, Patrick P. Toale, received a lease for some of the land surrounding the lake. When he tried to purchase the property, local citizens strongly opposed the request and filed a lawsuit to prevent the deal. Judge J.B. Kershaw sided with the opponents, ordering that all remaining property held by the city be retained for the benefit of all Charlestonians and that a commission be created to oversee the property.
The park around the lake was developed in the 1880s. The current configuration of a lake within concrete embankments with a wide promenade on all four sides was largely completed by 1885.
"Gala Week" used to be held in the fall of the year, with a fireworks display on the west side of the Pond, which was then an undeveloped area. Spectators filled to park and crowded onto boats in the lake. Boats were a popular feature of Colonial Lake, and the city even began requiring licenses for them to maintain order on the pond in 1910. Starting that same year, a series of boat and "tub" races were staged in the lake for local boys with money awarded to the winners. For a time, the lake was closed off from the Ashley River with a wire screen and stocked with fish for recreational fishing.
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.0
16 reviews
TripAdvisor
  • This is always a beautiful place to take a short walk. There is plenty of parking on three sides of the park. There is lots of nice greenery surrounding the lake.  more »
  • This appears to be where the locals hangout. Popular to do here - walk, jog, dog- walking, biking, fishing, sitting, daydreaming, people watching, relaxing, loving life. The landscape is well-tended a...  more »

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