Lowcountry at High Tide
A History of Flooding, Drainage, and Reclamation in Charleston, South Carolina
For centuries residents have made many attempts, both public and private, to manipulate the landscape of the low-lying peninsula on which Charleston sits, surrounded by wetlands, to maximize drainage, and thus buildable land and to facilitate sanitation. Christina Butler uses three hundred years of archival records to show not only the alterations to the landscape past and present, but also the impact those efforts have had on the residents at various socio-economic levels throughout its history.
Wide-ranging and thorough, Lowcountry at High Tide goes beyond the documentation of reclamation and filling and offers a look into the life and the history of Charleston and how its people have been affected by its unique environment, as well as examining the responses of the city over time to the needs of the populace. Butler considers interdisciplinary topics from engineering to public health, infrastructure to class struggle, and urban planning to civic responsibility in a study that is not only invaluable to the people of Charleston, but for any coastal city grappling with environmental change.
Illustrated with historical maps, plats, and photographs and organized chronologically and thematically within chapters, Lowcountry at High Tide offers a unique look at how Charleston has kept—and may continue to keep—the ocean at bay.
About the Author
"An important reference tool for historians of coastal cities and lovers of Charleston, Lowcountry at High Tide builds on urban infrastructure history... Students and other readers of Butler's case study of Charleston will find lots of intellectual and archival breadcrumbs leading to research opportunities into additional topics relevant to contemporary life in the midst of accelerating climate change and global warming."—The Public Historian
"Butler's work is impeccably researched, drawing from maps, plats, city records, local newspapers, and contract daybooks. This book offers scholars interested in Charleston's built environment a detailed, block-by-block account of the city's history focused on the nitty-gritty of sewers, street fill, and storm drains. . . . More important, Lowcountry at High Tide provides important historical context for understanding Charleston's relationship with land and water. Given the environmental challenges the city faces today, this is perhaps the book's greatest contribution."—The Journal of Southern History
"Lowcountry at High Tide is a much-needed study of landmaking in Charleston that also includes the related topics of drainage and filling existing land. Using public records, Christina Butler has traced Charlestonians's efforts to create raised, dry - and healthy, attractive, economically viable - land from their original low, inlet-laced peninsula."—Nancy Seasholes, author of Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston
"Christina Butler describes a growing but low-lying city where the ground surface was constantly in flux. The filling and draining that characterized Charleston from its earliest days had both short-term and long-range consequences for the livability of the peninsula, and for the archaeological record of these processes. Some may surprise you."—Martha Zierden, The Charleston Museum
"A new and compelling perspective on the history of Charleston. Synthesizing primary documents, maps, and property records, Butler painstakingly chronicles 340 years of Charleston's physical transformation through filling and drainage projects. More broadly, this book offers a much-needed historical framework for understanding the flooding issues currently facing Charleston and other coastal cities."—Jon Bernard Marcoux, Clemson University
Other Titles by Christina Rae Butler
Other Titles in NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection