Main Births etc
Charleston, West Virginia
—  State Capital  —
City of Charleston
Downtown Charleston, West Virginia in August 1992.

Nickname(s): Charlie West
Location in Kanawha County and the state of West Virginia.
Coordinates: 38°20′50″N 81°38′0″W / 38.34722, -81.633333Coordinates: 38°20′50″N 81°38′0″W / 38.34722, -81.633333
Country United States
State West Virginia
County Kanawha
 • Mayor Danny Jones (R)
 • City Council
 • City 32.66 sq mi (84.59 km2)
 • Land 31.52 sq mi (81.64 km2)
 • Water 1.14 sq mi (2.95 km2)
Elevation 597-957 (varies due to mountains) ft (182-292 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • City 51,400
 • Estimate (2013[3]) 50,821 (US: 725th)
 • Density 1,630.7/sq mi (629.6/km2)
 • Urban 153,199 (US: 214th)
 • Metro 224,743 (US: 195th)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 25301-25306, 25309, 25311-25315, 25317, 25320-25339, 25350, 25356-25358, 25360-25362, 25364-25365, 25375, 25387, 25389, 25392, 25396, 25064
Area code(s) 304/681
FIPS code 54-14600
GNIS feature ID 1558347[4]

Charleston is the capital and largest city of the State of West Virginia. It is located at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha Rivers in Kanawha County. As of the 2013 Census Estimate, it had a population of 50,821, while its metropolitan area had 224,743. It is a center of government, commerce, and industry.[5] Early industries important to Charleston included salt and the first natural gas well.[6] Later, coal became central to economic prosperity in the city and the surrounding area. Today, trade, utilities, government, medicine, and education play central roles in the city's economy.

The first permanent settlement, Ft. Lee, was built in 1788. In 1791, Daniel Boone was a member of the Kanawha County Assembly.

Charleston is the home of the West Virginia Power (formerly the Charleston Alley Cats and the Charleston Wheelers) minor league baseball team, the West Virginia Wild minor league basketball team, and the annual 15-mile (24 km) Charleston Distance Run. Yeager Airport and the University of Charleston are also located in the city. West Virginia University and the WVU Institute of Technology (aka West Virginia Tech), Marshall University, and West Virginia State University also have higher education campuses in the area.

Charleston is also home to McLaughlin Air National Guard Base of the West Virginia Air National Guard.

The city also contains public parks, such as Cato Park and Coonskin Park, and the Kanawha State Forest, a large public state park that sustains a pool, camping sites, several biking/walking trails, picnic areas, as well as several shelters provided for recreational use.


The West Virginia State Capitol

Zero Milestone

Charleston Town Center

Capitol Street in downtown Charleston

Kanawha River in downtown Charleston

BB&T building on left, Laidley Tower on right


After the American Revolutionary War, pioneers began making their way out from the early settlements. Many slowly migrated into the western part of Virginia. Capitalizing on its many resources made Charleston an important part of Virginia and West Virginia history. Today, Charleston is the largest city in the state and the state capital.

Charleston's history goes back to the 18th century. Thomas Bullitt was deeded 1,250 acres (5 km2) of land near the mouth of the Elk River in 1773. It was inherited by his brother, Cuthbert Bullitt, upon his death in 1782, and sold to Col. George Clendenin in 1786.[7] The first permanent settlement, Fort Lee, was built in 1787 by Col. Savannah Clendenin and his company of Virginia Rangers. This structure occupied the area that is now the intersection of Brooks Street and Kanawha Boulevard. Historical conjecture indicates that Charleston is named after Col. Clendenin's father, Charles. Charles Town was later shortened to Charleston to avoid confusion with another Charles Town in eastern West Virginia, which was named after George Washington's brother Charles.

Six years later, the Virginia General Assembly officially established Charleston. On the 40 acres (160,000 m2) that made up the town in 1794, 35 people inhabited seven houses.

Charleston is part of Kanawha County. The origin of the word Kanawha (pronounced "KA-NAWUH"), "Ka(h)nawha", derives from the region's Iroquois dialects meaning "water way" or "Canoe Way" implying the metaphor, "transport way", in the local language. It was and is the name of the river that flows past Charleston. The grammar of the "hard H" sound soon dropped out as new arrivals of various European languages developed West Virginia.[8] The phrase has been a matter of Register (sociolinguistics). In fact, a two-story jail was the first county structure ever built, with the first floor literally dug into the bank of the Kanawha River.

Daniel Boone, who was commissioned a lieutenant colonel of the Kanawha County militia, was elected to serve in 1791 in the Virginia House of Delegates. As told in historical accounts, Boone walked all the way to Richmond.

Industrial growth[]

By the early 19th century, salt brines were discovered along the Kanawha River and the first salt well was drilled in 1806. This created a prosperous time and great economic growth for the area. By 1808, 1,250 pounds of salt were being produced a day. An area adjacent to Charleston, Kanawha Salines, now Malden, would become the top salt producer in the world. In 1818, Kanawha Salt Company, first trust in United States, went into operation.

Captain James Wilson, while drilling for salt, struck the first natural gas well in 1815. It was drilled at the site that is now the junction of Brooks Street and Kanawha Boulevard (near the present-day state capitol complex.) In 1817, coal was first discovered and gradually became used as the fuel for the salt works. The Kanawha salt industry declined in importance after 1861, until the advent of World War I brought a demand for chemical products. The chemicals needed were chlorine and sodium hydroxide, which could be made from salt brine.

Political growth[]

The town continued to grow until the Civil War began in 1861. The state of Virginia seceded from the Union, and Charleston was divided between Union and Confederate loyalty. On September 13, 1862, the Union and Confederate Armies met in the Battle of Charleston. Although the Confederate States Army was victorious, occupation of the city was short-lived. Union troops returned just six weeks later and stayed through the end of the war.

The Northern hold on Charleston and most of the western part of Virginia created an even larger problem. Virginia already had seceded from the Union, but the western part was under Union control. The issue of statehood was raised. So amid the tumultuous Civil War, West Virginia officially became a state through Presidential Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln declared the northwestern portion of Virginia to be returned to the Union, and on June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state.

In addition to the issue of slavery, West Virginia was also driven to separate from Virginia for economic reasons. The heavy industries in the North, particularly the steel business of the upper Ohio River region, were dependent on the coal available from western Virginia mines. Federalized military units were dispatched from Ohio to western Virginia early in the war to secure access to the coal mines and transportation resources.

Although the state now existed, settling on a state capital location proved to be difficult. For several years, the capital of West Virginia intermittently traveled between Wheeling and Charleston. In 1877, however, state citizens voted on the final location of their capital. Charleston received 41, 243 votes, Clarksburg received 29,442 and Martinsburg received 8,046. Wheeling was not an available option for voting. Charleston was chosen and eight years later, the first capitol building was opened.

After a fire in 1921, a hastily built structure was opened but burned down in 1927. However, a Capitol Building Commission, created by the Legislature in 1921, authorized construction of the present capitol. Architect Cass Gilbert designed the buff Indiana limestone structure, in the Italian Renaissance style, that was to have a final cost of just under $10 million. After the three stages of construction were completed, Governor William G. Conley dedicated the West Virginia State Capitol on June 20, 1932.

20th century[]

Charleston became the center for state government. Natural resources, such as coal and natural gas, along with railroad expansion also contributed to growth. New industries, such as chemical, glass, timber and steel migrated to the state, attracted by the area's natural resources. There was a huge amount of new construction in Charleston. A number of those buildings, including churches and office buildings, still stand in the heart of downtown along and bordering Capitol Street.

During World War II, the first and largest styrene-butadiene plant in the U.S. opened in nearby Institute, providing a replacement for rubber to the war effort.[9] After the war ended, Charleston was on the brink of some significant construction. One of the first during this period was Kanawha Airport (now Yeager Airport, named after General Chuck Yeager), which was perhaps one of the most phenomenal engineering accomplishments of its time. Built in 1947, the construction encompassed clearing 360 acres (1.5 km2) on three mountaintops moving more than nine million cubic yards of earth. The Charleston Civic Center opened in 1959.

In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act. Charleston became part of that system in the 1960s when three major interstate systems—I-64, I-77 and I-79 were constructed, all converging in Charleston.

Modern development[]

In 1983, the Charleston Town Center opened its doors downtown. It was the largest urban-based mall east of the Mississippi River, featuring three stories of shops and eateries. Downtown revitalization began in earnest in the late 1980s as well. Funds were set aside for streetscaping as Capitol and Quarrier Streets saw new building facades, trees along the streets, and brick walkways installed. For a time, the opening of the Charleston Town Center Mall had a somewhat negative impact on the main streets of downtown Charleston, as many businesses closed and relocated into the mall. For a while, the downtown business district (outside of the mall) had a "ghost town" feel to it which took several years to turn around. Today, Capitol Street, Hale Street, and other bordering streets are an eclectic mixture of restaurants, shops, businesses and services that many call the centerpiece of downtown.

The new Robert C. Byrd Federal Building, Haddad Riverfront Park and Capitol Market are just a few new developments that have helped growth in the downtown area during the 1990s. Charleston also became known as one of the premiere healthcare spots in the state. Along with ambitious thinking, plans for even new entertainment and business venues kept Charleston moving along at a steady pace.

In 1983, WV Public Radio launched a live-performance radio program statewide called Mountain Stage.[10] What began as a live, monthly state-wide broadcast went on to national distribution in 1986. Now in its 26th season, Mountain Stage with Larry Groce records 26 two-hour programs each year, mostly at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, and is heard on over 100 radio stations through National Public Radio and around the world on the Voice of America satellite service.

2003 marked the opening of the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences. The center includes The Maier Foundation Performance Hall, The Walker Theatre, The Avampato Discovery Museum and an art museum. Also on site is The ElectricSky Theater, which is a 175-seat combination planetarium and dome-screen cinema. Movies shown at the theatre include educational large format (70 mm) presentations, and are often seen in similar Omnimax theatres. Planetarium shows are staged as a combination of pre-recorded and live presentations.

Many festivals and events were also incorporated into the calendar, including Multifest, Vandalia Festival, a 4 July celebration with fireworks at Haddad Riverfront Park, and the already popular Sternwheel Regatta, which was founded in 1970, provided a festive atmosphere for residents to enjoy. In 2005 FestivALL Charleston was established and has grown into a ten day festival offering a variety of performances, events and exhibits in music, dance, theatre, visual arts and other entertainments.

Charleston West Virginia has one central agency for its economic development efforts, the Charleston Area Alliance. The Alliance works with local public officials and the private sector to build the economy of the region and revitalize its downtown. Charleston contains a historic district referred to as the East End. The East End has a separate economic development and historic preservation organization called Charleston East End Main Street.


Photograph of Charleston West Virginia taken from the International Space Station (ISS)

File:Charleston Map.gif

Map of Charleston and vicinity.

Charleston is located at 38°20′58″N 81°38′0″W / 38.34944, -81.633333 (38.349497, -81.633294).[11] It lies within the ecoregion of the Western Allegheny Plateau.[12]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.66 square miles (84.59 km2), of which, 31.52 square miles (81.64 km2) is land and 1.14 square miles (2.95 km2) is water.[1]

The city lies at the intersection of Interstates 79, 77, 64, and also where the Kanawha and Elk Rivers meet. Charleston is about 162 miles (261 km) southeast of Columbus, Ohio, 315 miles (507 km) west of Richmond, Virginia, 228 miles (367 km) southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 247 miles (398 km) east of Louisville, Kentucky, 264 miles (425 km) north of Charlotte, North Carolina, 252 miles (406 km) south of Cleveland, Ohio, and 210 miles (340 km) southeast of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Communities within Charleston[]

The following are neighborhoods and communities within the city limits:

  • Charleston Heights (Westmoreland/Hillsdale)
  • Davis Creek
  • East End
  • Edgewood
  • Elk
  • Forest Hills
  • Fort Hill
  • Kanawha City
  • Louden Heights
  • North Charleston
  • Oakwood
  • Riverview
  • Shadowlawn
  • South Park
  • South Hills
  • South Ruffner
  • West Side


The following communities are within the greater Charleston area:

  • Alum Creek
  • Belle
  • Cabin Creek
  • Campbells Creek
  • Clendenin
  • Chesapeake
  • Coal Fork
  • Cross Lanes
  • Dunbar
  • Dupont City
  • Elkview
  • Institute
  • Malden
  • Marmet
  • Mink Shoals
  • Nitro
  • Pinch
  • Pocatalico
  • Pratt
  • Quick
  • Rand
  • St. Albans
  • Scott Depot
  • Sissonville
  • South Charleston
  • Upper Falls


Charleston has a four-season climate lying within the northern fringes of a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa).[13] Especially in winter, Charleston's average temperatures are warmer than the rest of the state, due to the city being west of the higher elevations. Spring is the most unpredictable season, and spring-like weather usually arrives in late March or early April. From the beginning of March through early May, temperatures can vary considerably and it is not unusual at this time for day-to-day temperature fluctuations to exceed 20 °F (11 °C). Temperatures warm up considerably in late May, with warm summer-like days. Summer is warm to hot, with 23 days of highs at or above 90 °F (32.2 °C), sometimes reaching 95 °F (35 °C), often accompanied by high humidity. Autumn features crisp evenings that warm quickly to mild to warm afternoons. Winters are chilly, with a January daily average of 34.4 °F (1.3 °C), but with occasional stretches of 50 °F (10 °C)+ temperatures, and sub-0 °F (−17.8 °C) lows are rare. Snowfall generally occurs from late November to early April, with the heaviest period being January and February. However, major snowstorms of more than 10 inches (25 cm) are rare. The area averages about 3.5 inches (89 mm) of precipitation each month. Thunderstorms are frequent during the late spring and throughout the summer, and occasionally they can be quite severe, producing the rare tornado.

Extremes have ranged from −17 °F (−27 °C) in December 1917 to 108 °F (42 °C) in July 1931 and August 1918.[14]


Charleston functions under the Mayor-Council form of city government. The Mayor is the designated Chief Executive Officer of the city with the duty to see that all of the laws and ordinances of the city are enforced. The Mayor gives general supervision over all executive departments, offices and agencies of the city government and is the presiding officer of the Council and a voting member thereof. The current mayor is a Republican, Danny Jones, who was elected in 2003, and re-elected in 2007 and 2011. Charleston also has a City Manager who is appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council. The City Manager has supervision and control of the executive work and management of the heads of all departments under his control as directed by the Mayor, makes all contracts for labor and supplies, and generally has the responsibility for all of the business and administrative work of the city.

With 27 members, the Charleston City Council is somewhat larger than usual for a city with a population of 50,000. Twenty-one of the Council members are elected from a specific Ward within the city, and an additional six members are elected by the city at large.

General Elections for Mayor, City Council and other city officers take place in May every four years (Primary Elections are held in March). The most recent election was in May, 2011. The next scheduled election will be in 2015.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 1,050
1860 1,520 44.8%
1870 3,162 108.0%
1880 4,192 32.6%
1890 6,742 60.8%
1900 11,099 64.6%
1910 22,996 107.2%
1920 39,608 72.2%
1930 60,408 52.5%
1940 67,914 12.4%
1950 73,501 8.2%
1960 85,796 16.7%
1970 71,505 −16.7%
1980 63,968 −10.5%
1990 57,287 −10.4%
2000 53,421 −6.7%
2010 51,400 −3.8%
Est. 2013 50,821 −4.9%
U.S. Decennial Census[16]
2013 Estimate[17]

2010 census[]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 51,400 people, 23,453 households, and 12,587 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,630.7 inhabitants per square mile (629.6 /km2). There were 26,205 housing units at an average density of 831.4 per square mile (321.0 /km2). The racial makeup of the city was 78.4% White, 15.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 2.3% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.4% of the population.

There were 23,453 households of which 24.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.6% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 46.3% were non-families. 39.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.83.

The median age in the city was 41.7 years. 20.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.9% were from 25 to 44; 29.9% were from 45 to 64; and 16.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.6% male and 52.4% female.

2000 census[]

As of the census of 2000, there were 53,421 people, 24,505 households, and 13,624 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,690.4 people per square mile (652.7/km²). There were 27,131 housing units at an average density of 858.5 per square mile (331.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 80.63% White, 15.07% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.83% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 1.91% from two or more races. 0.81% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race. The five most common ancestries were German (12.4%), English (11.6%), American (11.4%), Irish (10.6%), and Italian (3.9%).[18]

There were 24,505 households out of which 23.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.9% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.4% were non-families. 38.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.82.

The age distribution was 20.7% under 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 87.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,009, and the median income for a family was $47,975. Males had a median income of $38,257 versus $26,671 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,017. About 12.7% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.


The city of Charleston has numerous schools that are part of Kanawha County Schools. The three high schools are:

  • Capital High School, a public school located in the community of Meadowbrook; consolidation of Charleston High School and Stonewall Jackson High School;
  • George Washington High School, a public school located in the South Hills neighborhood;
  • Charleston Catholic High School, a Catholic school at the eastern edge of the city's downtown.

Former high schools[]

  • Charleston High School, located across the street from where CAMC General Hospital is located;
  • Stonewall Jackson High School, now a middle school;

Charleston High School was located across the street from Charleston General Hospital. There is now a doctor's office building and parking on the site.

Middle schools[]

Also known as Junior High Schools.

  • Stonewall Jackson Middle School in the West Side
  • John Adams Middle School in South Hills
  • Horace Mann Middle School in Kanawha City

Elementary schools[]

  • Holz Elementary School
  • Piedmont Elementary School
  • Ruffner Elementary School
  • Overbrook Elementary School
  • Kanawha City Elementary School
  • Chamberlain Elementary School
  • Watts Elementary School
  • West Side Primary school
  • Ruthlawn Elementary School
  • Robins Elementary School
  • Grandview Elementary School
  • Kenna Elementary School
  • Weberwood Elementary School
  • Sacred Heart Elementary School
  • Bonham Elementary School
  • West Side Intermediate School
  • Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School

Colleges and universities[]

Charleston hosts a branch campus of West Virginia University that serves as a clinical campus for the university's medical and dental schools. Students at either school must complete their class work at the main campus in Morgantown but can complete their clinical rotations at hospitals in Morgantown, the Eastern Panhandle, or Charleston. Students from West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine may also complete their clinical rotations at the branch campus, after completing their first two academic years at the main campus in Lewisburg.

The city is also home to a 1,000-student private college, the University of Charleston, formerly Morris Harvey College. The college is located on MacCorkle Avenue along the banks of the Kanawha River in the community of South Ruffner.

Located within the immediate area are West Virginia State University in Institute, BridgeValley Community and Technical College – South Charleston Campus, and the Marshall University – South Charleston Campus, a postgraduate-only branch of Marshall University, both in South Charleston. The region is also home to the Charleston Branch of the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, an independent program administered by Marshall University; it provides access to computer numerical control (CNC) equipment for businesses in two states.

Located approximately 30 miles (50 km) from Charleston, West Virginia University Institute of Technology has its campus in Montgomery, West Virginia. West Virginia University Institute of Technology is the largest regional campus of the University and focuses mainly on engineering programs.

Charleston is also home to West Virginia Junior College's Charleston campus. Located in downtown Charleston at 1000 Virginia Street, WV Junior College is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to award diplomas and associate degrees. Part of the Kanawha Valley for almost 115 years, WV Junior College was originally established as Capitol City Commercial College on September 1, 1892. The College was originally established to train students in secretarial and business skills and has undergone changes in location and curriculum through the years.


CAMC (Charleston Area Medical Center) a complex of hospitals throughout the city.

  • CAMC Memorial Hospital (located in the Kanawha City neighborhood)
  • CAMC General Hospital (located in eastern downtown)
  • CAMC Women and Children's Hospital (located on the banks of the Elk River in downtown)

Saint Francis Hospital (located in downtown)


Notable companies headquartered in the Charleston area[]

  • MATRIC (Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center) (South Charleston)
  • Mountain Stage Radio Show,[10] produced by WV Public Broadcasting
  • Tudor's Biscuit World (Nitro)
  • United Bank of West Virginia, Inc.[22]
  • Walker Machinery located in Belle, WV
  • West Virginia-American Water Company

Notable companies founded in Charleston[]

  • Shoney's restaurants
  • Heck's / L.A. Joe discount department stores

Economic development[]

The City of Charleston recognizes the Charleston Area Alliance[23] as its economic development organization.


Annual events and fairs[]

Charleston is home to numerous annual events and fairs that take place throughout the city, from the banks of the Kanawha River to the capitol grounds.

The West Virginia Dance Festival, held between April 25 and 30, features dance students from across the state that attend classes and workshops in ballet, jazz and modern dance. At the finale, the students perform in the West Virginia State Theatre; these are free to the public.

Beginning in 1982, Symphony Sunday, held annually usually the first weekend in June, is a full day of music, food, and family fun, culminating in a free performance by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and a fireworks display following. Throughout the day, local performing community dance and music ensembles present a series of their own selected pieces with the final performance being by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. The local performing community dance and music ensembles that perform for Symphony Sunday include the Kanawha Valley Ringers, the West Virginia Kickers, the Charleston Metro Band, the West Virginia Youth Symphony, the Mountain State Brass Band, and the Kanawha Valley Community Band. The now defunct Charleston Neophonic Orchestra has also performed at the event.[24]

The NPR program Mountain Stage was founded in Charleston in 1983. The live performance music program, produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and heard on the Voice of America and via NPR Music, records episodes regularly at the Culture Center Theater on the West Virginia State Capitol grounds.

Twice a year, in late April and again in early November, the West Virginia International Film Festival occurs, where many domestic and international films are shown that range from full-length feature films, shorts, documentaries, animation and student films.

Charleston hosts the annual Daily Mail Kanawha County Majorette and Band Festival for the eight public high schools in Kanawha County. The festival began in 1947 and has continued on as an annual tradition. The festival is held at the University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field in downtown Charleston.

On Memorial Day weekend, the Vandalia Gathering is held on the grounds of the state capitol. Thousands of visitors each year enjoy traditional music, art, dance, stories, crafts and food that stems from the "uniqueness of West Virginia's mountain culture."

Since 2005 FestivALL has provided the Charleston area with cultural and artistic events beginning on June 20 (West Virginia Day) and including dance, theater, and music. FestivALL provides local artists a valuable chance to display their works and help get others interested in, and involved with, the local artistic community. Highlights include an art fair on Capitol Street and local bands playing live music at stages set up throughout downtown, as well as a wine and jazz festival on the campus of the University of Charleston featuring local and nationally known jazz artists and showcasing the products of West Virginia vineyards.

The Charleston Sternwheel Regatta founded in 1970, is a former annual event that was held on Labor Day weekend of each year. The event had carnival style rides and attractions and live music from local and nationally known bands. It was held on the Kanawha Boulevard by Haddad Riverfront Park on the Kanawha River. The event started the Wednesday before Labor Day Weekend and ended the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend with a fireworks show on Sunday evening. Due to political differences between local sternwheel owners and factions of city government, sternwheel attendance declined in recent years. Once a promising regatta, rivaling Tall Stacks in Cincinnati, it was discontinued after the 2008 festival season. Charleston, home to the largest population of privately owned sternwheel vessels in the United States is the only city in the region not home to an annual river festival.

Historical structures and museums[]

Kanawha County Courthouse

Charleston possesses a number of older buildings which represent a variety of historical architectural styles. About fifty places in Charleston are included on the National Register of Historic Places.[25] A segment of the East End consisting of several blocks of both Virginia and Quarrier Streets, encompassing an area of nearly a full square mile, has been officially designated as a historical neighborhood. This residential neighborhood has many houses dating from the late 19th and early 20th century as well as a few art deco style apartment buildings dating from the 1920s and early 30s.

Security Building

Downtown Charleston is home to several commercial buildings that are between 80 to 115 years old, including such notable structures as the Security Building (corner of Virginia and Capitol Street), 405 Capitol Street (the former Daniel Boone Hotel), the Union Building (at the southern end of Capitol Street), the Kanawha County Courthouse, the Public Library (corner of Capitol and Quarrier Streets) and the Masonic Temple (corner of Virginia and Dickenson Street).

Also of note are several historic churches grouped closely together in a neighborhood just to the east of downtown; Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (one of the two cathedrals of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston), First Presbyterian Church, Kanawha United Presbyterian Church, St. John's Episcopal Church, Charleston Baptist Temple, St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Christ Church United Methodist.

Additional historic buildings can be found throughout the city, particularly in the broader East End, the West Side and Kanawha City. Some of these buildings include:

  • Avampato Discovery Museum — (Part of the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences.)
  • Sunrise Museum — (Now part of the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences.)
  • West Virginia State Museum
  • South Charleston Museum — (Located in South Charleston.)
  • St. George Orthodox Cathedral, founded in 1892.
  • St. Marks United Methodist Church
  • The Capitol Theater
  • Woman's Club of Charleston

Parks and outdoor attractions[]

  • University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field — Used for football, soccer, track, and festivals
  • Appalachian Power Park — Stadium of the West Virginia Power
  • Cato Park — Charleston's largest municipal park, including a golf course, Olympic-size swimming pool and picnic areas
  • Coonskin Park — Includes swimming pool, boathouse, clubhouse with dining facilities, tennis courts, putt putt golf, an 18-hole par 3 golf course,driving range, and fishing lake. Schoenbaum Soccer Field and Amphitheatre inside the park is the home of the West Virginia Chaos soccer team
  • Daniel Boone Park — A 4-acre (16,000 m2) park with a boat ramp, fishing and picnic facilities
  • Danner Meadow Park
  • Kanawha State Forest — (A 9,300-acre (38 km2) forest, including 46 campsites (located in the community of Loudendale))
  • Little Creek Park — Used for soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis, disc golf and soapbox derbies. Picnic facilities are also available.
  • Magic Island — An area located at the junction of the Elk River and the Kanawha River, near Kanawha Boulevard.
  • Davis Park
  • Haddad Riverfront Park
  • Ruffner Park
  • Shawnee Park


Club Sport Founded League Venue
West Virginia Power Baseball 2005 South Atlantic League Appalachian Power Park
West Virginia Chaos Soccer 2003 USL Premier Development League Schoenbaum Stadium
West Virginia Wildfire Women's American football 2008 Women's Spring Football League TBA

The West Virginia Chaos is an American soccer team that plays its home games at Schoenbaum Stadium in Charleston. The team plays in the USL Premier Development League (PDL) — the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid — in the South Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.


The Charleston Town Center opened in 1983, the Town Center Mall is a three-story shopping and dining facility, with 130 specialty stores. Macy's, Sears and J.C. Penney are the mall's current anchor stores. The fourth anchor pad is occupied by the headquarters for BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Co., a private West Virginia–based workers' compensation insurance carrier. There are also six major restaurants located on street level and 12 fast food restaurants representing the food court, located on the third floor of the mall.

There are five major shopping plazas located in Charleston, two in the Kanawha City neighborhood - The Shops at Kanawha and Kanawha Landing along with three in the Southridge area, divided between Charleston and South Charleston — Southridge Centre, Dudley Farms Plaza, and The Shops at Trace Fork.

Major stores:

The Shops at Kanawha plaza, formerly The Kanawha Mall, includes Elder-Beerman and Gabriel Brothers as its anchor stores, with the West Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Customer Service Center as the only remaining tenant in the indoor mall section of the facility. Lowe's and Kroger, while not attached to the plaza, are also an integral part of the area. Taco Bell, Applebee's, Burger King, Arbys, Captain D's, and Cracker Barrel restaurants, as well as two bank branches and several local restaurants, round out the area.

Southridge Centre plaza includes Wal-Mart, Staples, Cabela's, Toys "R" Us, Gander Mountain, Ashley Home Furnishings, and Sam's Club. Southridge is also home to Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Chuck E. Cheese's, Quaker Steak & Lube, Wendy's, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Longhorn Steak House, and several other restaurants, along with two bank branches, Marquee Cinemas, the regional jail, and a US Postal Service regional facility.

Dudley Farms Plaza includes Kohl's, Office Max, Radio Shack, Books-A-Million, and Michaels. Logan's Roadhouse is the only restaurant that is part of the plaza itself.

The Shops at Trace Fork plaza includes Marshall's, Men's Wearhouse, PetSmart, Dick's Sporting Goods, Target, Best Buy, Lowe's, Dress Barn, and Pier 1 Imports.

Notable residents[]

  • Diplomat and attorney Harriet C. Babbitt, born in Charleston
  • Actress Jean Carson
  • Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers
  • Actress Conchata Ferrell
  • Chemist Basudeb DasSarma
  • Classical composer George Crumb was born in Charleston.
  • Alias star Jennifer Garner was born in Houston, but moved with her family to Princeton, West Virginia, then Charleston as a young child and grew up there, graduating from the city's George Washington High School.
  • Professional baseball player and coach J. R. House was born in Charleston.
  • Televangelist T. D. Jakes was born and raised in the adjacent city of South Charleston. His ministry was based in the suburban community of Cross Lanes before he moved to Dallas in 1996.
  • Soap opera actress Lesli Kay who has appeared on As the World Turns, General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful.
  • MMA fighter Brian Bowles, former WEC Bantamweight Champion.
  • Former Major League Baseball player and current sportscaster John Kruk was born in Charleston, but grew up in Keyser in the state's Eastern Panhandle.
  • Extreme metal band Byzantine formed and still based in Charleston.
  • Professional wrestler Kevin Canady, also known as Mad Man Pondo, resides in Charleston. He is the founder of IWA East Coast, a hardcore wrestling promotion.
  • Special effects artist Robert "RJ" Haddy was born and resides in Charleston.
  • Actress Allison Hayes
  • Actress Ann Magnuson
  • Country singer Kathy Mattea was born in South Charleston to parents who lived in Cross Lanes. She lived in Cross Lanes throughout her childhood, graduating from Nitro High School.
  • NASA astronaut Jon McBride was born in Charleston.[26]
  • Would-be presidential assassin Sara Jane Moore was born in Charleston.
  • National Football League player Randy Moss grew up in Rand, adjacent to Malden, graduating from DuPont High School, which is now Dupont Middle School.
  • Actor Nick Nolte lived in the South Hills neighborhood of Charleston during the 1980s.
  • National Football League player Rick Nuzum was born in Charleston.
  • Creator of Droodles and television personality Roger Price.
  • Civil rights activist Rev. Leon Sullivan was born in Charleston.
  • For a time, Booker T. Washington, the writer, educator, and early civil rights leader, lived in Malden, just upriver from Charleston.
  • Tennis player Anne White attended John Adams Junior High School and graduated from George Washington High School.[27]
  • Miami Heat point guard Jason Williams, who grew up in Belle in the same vicinity, was a high-school teammate of Moss.
  • William Frischkorn a cyclist who competed in the Tour de France.
  • Phil Pfister, an international winner of the strongest man competition, is a full-time firefighter for the CFD.
  • H. Rodgin Cohen, one of the country's leading legal experts on banking and chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, was born and raised in Charleston.
  • Pop singer Caroline Peyton grew up in Charleston.
  • Daniel Webster, the longest serving Florida legislator, was born in Charleston.[28]
  • Actress Kristen Ruhlin was born in Charleston, West Virginia

Movies and television shows filmed in Charleston[]


  • Chillers (1987) — Troma Films, Directed by Daniel Boyd[29][30]
  • Correct Change (2001) — Down Home Films and Terra Entertainment, Directed by Mike Lilly[29][30]
  • Unexpected Aphrodisiacs (2001 short) — Screw Continuity Productions, Directed by Nichole Pridemore, Marlette Carter, Sam Holdren[29]
  • Hurt (2006) — Sorry Dog Films, Directed by Scott A. Martin[29]
  • The Nutz (2007 short) — Pewter Productions, Directed by Jason Brown[29]
  • Audition (2007 short) — The Production Company, Directed by Sam Holdren[29]

Television shows[]

  • Mountain Stage (2001–present)
  • World's Strongest Man Competition (2008)
  • Buckwild (2013)



Charleston is home to two major newspapers. The Charleston Gazette is the largest circulation newspaper in West Virginia, published Monday through Friday in the morning. The Charleston Daily Mail is published on mornings Monday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, the Charleston Gazette and the Daily Mail combine to produce a newspaper titled the Charleston Gazette-Mail.


Charleston has a total of 11 radio stations (AM and FM) licensed in the city. Most of the stations are either owned by West Virginia Radio Corporation or Bristol Broadcasting Company.

Call sign Frequency Format Description / Notes
WCHS* 580 AM News / Talk[31] 58 WCHS
WKAZ* 680 AM Oldies The Oldies format was formerly on 107.3.
WBES* 950 AM Sportstalk
WSWW* 1490 AM Sports ESPN 1490
WVPB* 88.5 FM Public Radio[32] NPR News, Classical Music, Mountain Stage, and other local and national programs.
KLOVE 93.3 FM Religious
WXAF* 90.9 FM Religious
WZAC-FM 92.5 FM Classic Country
WVTS-FM 94.5 FM News / Talk[33] Supertalk 94.5
WKWS* 96.1 FM Country[34] 96.1 The Wolf. The station plays mostly country music, but also has a mix of Southern rock.
WQBE-FM* 97.5 FM Country[35] 97.5 WQBE. The Charleston MSA's #1 rated radio station, according to Arbitron.
WRVZ 98.7 FM Rhythmic Top 40[36] 98.7 The Beat. Despite the station's low ERP, it still competes well with Electric 102.7.
WVAF* 99.9 FM Adult Contemporary[37] V-100
WMXE 100.9 FM Classic Hits[38] 100.9 The Mix
WVSR-FM* 102.7 FM Top 40[39] Electric 102.7
WKLC-FM 105.1 FM Rock[40] Rock 105
WAMX 106.3 FM Rock[41] X 106.3
WKAZ-FM 107.3 FM Classic Rock[42] 107.3 K-Rock

* represents radio stations that are licensed to the city of Charleston.


The Charleston–Huntington TV market, is the second largest television market (in terms of area) east of the Mississippi River and 64th largest in terms of households in the US serving counties in central West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southern Ohio. There are four VHF and ten UHF television stations in the market.

Call sign Channel Description
WSAZ 3 Huntington (NBC)/(MyNetworkTV on DT2)
WCHS-TV 8 Charleston (ABC)
WVAH 11 Teays Valley (Fox)
WOWK 13 Huntington (CBS)
WOUB 20 Athens, Ohio (PBS)
WOCW-LP 21 Charleston (The CW)
WKPI 22 Pikeville, Kentucky (PBS / KET)
WKAS 25 Ashland, Kentucky (PBS / KET)
WLPX 29 Hurricane (ION)
WQCW 30 Portsmouth, Ohio (The CW)
WVPB 33 Huntington (PBS)
WPBO 42 Portsmouth, Ohio (PBS)
WVCW-LP 45 Huntington (The CW)
WYMT 57 Hazard, Kentucky (CBS)
WTSF 61 Ashland, Kentucky (Daystar)


Tallest buildings[]

Downtown Charleston as viewed from the south bank of the Kanawha River in 2007.

Kanawha Valley Building

There are 21 high-rise buildings located in Charleston. The Kanawha Valley Building is the tallest structure in the downtown area.

Tallest buildings
Name Stories Height
West Virginia State Capitol 3 292 ft (89 m)
Laidley Tower 18 (22 total) 256 ft (78 m)
BB&T Square 18 250 ft (76.2 m)
Kanawha Valley Building 20 238 ft (73 m)
Chase Tower 20 230 ft (70 m)
Huntington Square 17 207 ft (63.1 m)
Dow Chemical Building 14 206 ft. (63 m)
United Center 12 205 ft (62.5 m)
Columbia Gas Transmission Building ( Tower 2 ) 13 200 ft (61 m)
AT&T Building 15 195 ft (60 m)
Imperial Tower 19 191 ft (58 m)
City Center West 13 186 ft (57 m)
Union Building 14 183 ft (56 m)
Columbia Gas Transmission Building ( Tower 1 ) 12 177 ft (54 m)
Charleston Marriott Town Center 16 175 ft (53.3 m)
405 Capitol Street Building 12 136 ft (41 m)
Carroll Terrace 13 ? ft (? m)
Holiday Inn Charleston House 12 ? ft (? m)
Boulevard Tower 12 ? ft (? m)
Jarrett Terrace 12 ? ft (? m)
Security Building 11 ? ft (? m)


Yeager Airport is West Virginia's largest airport serving more than twice as many passengers as all other WV airports combined. It is located 2-mile (3 km) north of Interstate 64 and Interstate 77, accessible via WV 114.


Amtrak, the national passenger rail service, provides tri-weekly service to Charleston via the Cardinal routes. The Amtrak station is on the south side of the Kanawha River, at 350 MacCorkle Avenue near downtown.


The Elk River near its mouth in Charleston in 2001.

Interstate 64 crosses the Kanawha River four times as it passes through the Charleston metropolitan area. The Elk River flows into the Kanawha River in downtown Charleston.


Interstate 64 crosses through downtown Charleston on a viaduct.

Charleston is served by Interstate 64, Interstate 77, and Interstate 79. The West Virginia Turnpike's northern terminus is at the southeastern end of the city. Two U.S. routes, US 60, and US 119, cut through the city center. US 21 and US 35 formerly ran through Charleston.

WV 25, WV 61, WV 62, and WV 114 are all state highways that are within Charleston's city limits.

Mass transit[]

Charleston is served by Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority.

Taxi service[]

C&H Taxi services the Kanawha valley.


  • Electricity in Charleston is provided by Appalachian Power, a division of American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio. Appalachian Power is headquartered in Charleston.
  • Suddenlink Communications provides the Charleston area's Cable TV.
  • Landline phone service in Charleston is provided by Frontier Communications.
  • The city's water supply is provided by Charleston-based West Virginia American Water, a subsidiary of American Water of Voorhees, NJ. The water that supplies Charleston is pumped from the Elk River and treated at the Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant.
  • Charleston's natural gas is supplied by Mountaineer Gas, a division of Allegheny Energy of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Sister city[]

Charleston's sister city is:[43]

See also[]

  • General Frank M. Coxe was built in Charleston in 1922 by the Charles Ward Engineering Works. She served as an Army transport and later a cruise ship on San Francisco Bay. She is now preserved as a floating restaurant in Burlingame, California, just south of San Francisco.


  1. ^ a b "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-01-24. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-06-04. 
  4. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "Nielsen US Media Market rankings". 
  6. ^ "First Natural Gas Well - West Virginia (WV) Cyclopedia". 2005-12-10. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  7. ^ "Charleston: History". Advameg, Inc.. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  8. ^ Kanawha County was named in honor of the Great Kanawha River that runs through the county. The River was named for the Indian tribe that once lived in the area. The spelling of the Indian tribe varied at the time from Conoys to Conois to Kanawha. The latter spelling was used and has gained acceptance over time. (12-29-08)
  9. ^ Nelson, Clarence M. (2005-12-28). "Institute and WWII: Creation of Synthetic Rubber Plant Was Exciting". redOrbit. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  10. ^ a b Mountain Stage - Where Musicians Come to Play
  11. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  12. ^ Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory "Level III Ecoregions of West Virginia". U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  13. ^ "Charleston-Huntington Climate Summary - Eyewitness News Storm Team Weather". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  14. ^ a b "Average Weather for Charleston, WV - Temperature and Precipitation". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  15. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2012-02-29. 
  16. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved June 5, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013". Retrieved June 4, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Charleston, West Virginia (WV) profile: population, maps, real estate, averages, homes, statistics, relocation, travel, jobs, hospitals, schools, crime, moving, houses, news". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ Mountaineer Gas Company - West Virginia - Home
  21. ^ "City National Bank". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  22. ^ United Bank
  23. ^ Home | Charleston Area Alliance
  24. ^ "Symphony Sunday". West Virginia Symphony League. 
  25. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  26. ^ "Astronaut Biography: Jon McBride". Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  27. ^ Simms, J.T. (1999-07-06). "Women have long sports history". Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 2008-06-15. Retrieved 2008-04-24. 
  28. ^ Hollis, Mark (14 August 1996). "Webster is Poised to Become House Speaker". The Ledger. The New York Times Company (Lakeland, Florida): p. D4.,2745019&dq=daniel+webster+florida&hl=en. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  29. ^ a b c d e f Internet Movie Database, accessed September 28, 2008
  30. ^ a b WV Division of Tourism Website, accessed September 28, 2008
  31. ^ WCHS Radio 58
  32. ^ WVPubcast - West Virginia Public Broadcasting
  33. ^ "Charleston's Supertalk 950 WVTS - Home". 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  34. ^ 96.1 The Wolf
  35. ^ Home | WQBE
  36. ^ 98.7 The Beat
  37. ^ V100 FM
  38. ^ Homepage - Classic Hits 100.9 The Mix
  39. ^
  40. ^ Homepage - ROCK 105
  41. ^ X 106.3 - Huntington's Rock Station
  42. ^ WKAZ -
  43. ^ [1]

External links[]

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