North Charleston is located near the Atlantic Ocean just north of Charleston in South Carolina. The city is bordered by Charleston to the south and east, the city of Hanahan to the north and east, the city of Goose Creek to the northeast, the unincorporated suburb of Ladson to the north, and the town of Summerville to the northwest. The Ashley River forms a large part of the southwest border of the city, and the Cooper River forms the southeastern border.
The area north of Charleston was developed as plantations be early colonists, but after the Civil War, it grew into an industrial center. Just after the turn of the 20th century, the U.S. Navy targeted a huge swath of land along the Cooper River for a new naval base, and planned neighborhoods began to unfold to house workers, the military and their families.
The North Charleston area boomed during World War II. The dynamic area incorporated as a city in 1972 and has expanded to include land in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties.
North Charleston is the third-largest city in South Carolina with a population of approximately 105,000. The military has historically had a large presence in the North Charleston and surrounding area. During the Cold War, the Naval Base (1902-1996) became the third largest U.S. homeport serving over 80 ships and submarines. In addition, the Charleston Naval Shipyard repaired frigates, destroyers, cruisers, sub tenders, and submarines. Also, the Shipyard was responsible for refueling nuclear subs. The Charleston Naval Base ranked as the largest employer of civilians in South Carolina into the 1990s.
During this period, the Weapons Station was the Atlantic Fleet's load out base for all nuclear ballistic missile submarines. In the early 1990s, the Charleston Navy Base was proposed for closure. In 1993, the Charleston Naval Base was given a closure date of April 1, 1996. Given its annual expenditures of approximately 1.4 billion dollars in the region, the base's closing represented a major loss of jobs and a blow to the entire Tri-County economy. Over the years, billions of dollars had flowed into the region's economy and hundreds of thousands of jobs were filled by military and civilian personnel, the vast majority being civilians.
Many military personnel who worked at or passed through the base returned to the city to retire. Following the closure of the Charleston Naval Base and the Charleston Naval Shipyard, parts of the base and dry-docks were leased out to various government and private businesses. Community parks for North Charleston were established on old base grounds, to include Riverfront Park.
In 2010, the Air Force Base (3,877 acres) and Naval Weapons Station (>17,000 acres) merged to form Joint Base Charleston. Today, Joint Base Charleston, encompassing over 20,877 acres and supporting 53 Military Commands and Federal Agencies, provides service to over 79,000 Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, DOD civilians, dependents, and retirees.
In October 2009, Boeing announced the selection of North Charleston for its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft assembly and delivery prep center. This positioned North Charleston as one of the major aircraft centers of the world.
With the arrival of Boeing Aircraft, the city has gained international importance and stature as one of only four places in the world for the manufacture and assembly of wide-body commercial aircraft. North Charleston is also the home to the Global Financial Services – Charleston (a section of the US State Dept), located at the old Naval Station. Global Financial Services – Charleston is responsible overall for more than 200 bank accounts in over 160 countries and 169 different currencies.
Since the construction of Palmetto Commerce Parkway, many businesses (including Venture Aerobearings, Daimler Vans Manufacturing, Cummins Turbo, and the VTL Group) have located and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in North Charleston's economy. Industrial hubs, such as this one, continue to provide high-paying jobs in the area.
Daimler Vans Manufacturing (Mercedes-Benz) recently announced a $500 million expansion at the Daimler Van plant.
The South Carolina State Ports Authority has four intermodal facilities, one of which is located in North Charleston. A new intermodal facility is being built on the former Charleston Naval Base. Each facility handles container, bulk, and break bulk cargo. With more than 2,000,000 square feet of warehouse and storage space, the port terminals can accommodate more than 17 vessels at a time. Veterans Terminal is designed mainly for bulk/break bulk cargo.
Today the Port of Charleston boasts the deepest water in the southeast region and regularly handles ships too big to transit through the Panama Canal. A next-generation harbor deepening project is currently underway to dredge the Port of Charleston's entrance channel to 54 feet and harbor channel to 52 feet at mean low tide.
North Charleston is an are in transition. With both the industrial and military roots, the city in recent years has committed to redeveloping its central neighborhoods and reinventing itself as a trendy and yet affordable place to live.
The City of North Charleston has since partnered with developers to infuse new life into the area's historic neighborhoods. Redevelopment areas include Park Circle, a community of neighborhoods planned early in the 20th century. Residential developments in the works, such as Oak terrace Preserve and Mixson, have earned a reputation for their sustainable building practices. Nearby Montague Avenue is a Main Street of the past alive again with shops and restaurants.
Redevelopment is ongoing on the former naval base as well, where once empty military buildings now bustle with art studios, private offices and other commercial activity collectively known as the Navy Yard at Noisette.
North Charleston remains a center of business activity for the region, with many of the Charleston area's commercial and industrial employers located there.
One of the area's major attractions is the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center and adjacent Charleston Area Convention Center. The complex is home to the Stingrays, a minor league hockey team, and is a venue for concerts, performances and meetings large and small. An $18 million expansion is under way for the coliseum that will include a new ticket window, upgraded box seats, better kitchen facilities and stage and sound improvements.
Nearby shopping areas include the Tanger Outlet Center and Northwoods Mall.
The Charleston International Airport is also located in North Charleston. Interstate 26 forms a spine that begins in Charleston and runs through North Charleston toward Columbia. Interstate 526, which has terminal points in Mount Pleasant and West Ashley, reaches across North Charleston.