Rainbow Row is the name for a series of colorful historic houses in Charleston, South Carolina. The houses are located north of Tradd St. and south of Elliot St. on East Bay Street. It is referred to as Rainbow Row for the pastel colors used to paint all of the houses. It is a common tourist attraction and is one of the most photographed parts of Charleston.
After the Civil War, this area of Charleston devolved into near slum conditions. In the early 1900s, Dorothy Porcher Legge purchased a section of these houses numbering 99 through 101 East Bay and began to renovate them. She chose to paint these houses pink based on a colonial Caribbean color scheme. Other owners and future owners followed suit, creating the “rainbow” of pastel colors present today. The coloring of the houses helped keep the houses cool inside as well as give the area its name.
Common myths concerning Charleston include variants on the reasons for the paint colors. According to some tales, the houses were painted in the various colors such that the intoxicated sailors coming in from port could remember which houses they were to bunk in. In other versions, the colors of the buildings date from their use as stores; the colors were used so that owners could tell illiterate slaves which building to go to for shopping.
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