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East Cooper's two beach-front islands are connected by one bridge but represent two distinct lifestyles.
Sullivan's Island lies at the entrance to Charleston Harbor and spent much of its history as a slave port.Its strategic position made it key to the seaward defense of the city of Charleston and it was fortified well into the 20th century. To Charlestonians of the late 19th and early 20th century, Sullivan's Island was the beach to which they escaped by boat when the summer heat grew unbearable.
Today, the island's military and beach-retreat heritage give the plce an elegantly shabby, slow-moving style that is unique among Southern beach communities. islanders have adapted abandoned fortifications and disused buildings from Fort Moultrie's sprawling past into creative living spaces and public uses. Victorian homes line shaded streets.
About 2,000 people live on the 3.3 square mile island, which remains a popular destination for beach-goers from Charleston and Mount Pleasant. But with no hotels, the beach is seldom crowded. Easements and strict regulations protect the island's dunes and maritime forests, and its lighthouse, which began operation in 1962 and was conveyed to the National Park Service in 2008.