By Minta Pavliscsak
If there is one thing Charleston, South Carolina will never be lacking, it is charm. In historic downtown Charleston, every street, store front, restaurant, park, and even alleyway has a way to make you point and say “awe”. Then, as if an automatic response, your camera is out taking pictures before you even realize it.
Follow us as we take a stroll down Philadelphia Alley and see alleyways as only Charleston knows how to do them.
This charming alley can be found between Queen Street and Cumberland Street. Often overlooked, Philadelphia Alley is one of the many hidden treasures Charleston offers. Dating back to 1776, Cow’s Alley as it was originally called, was access to rental homes behind Francis Kinloch’s house. He renamed it Kinloch’s Court after he widened it.
This alley has seen two fires in its lifetime, including the infamous fire of 1796, and another in 1810. Holding true to its name, The City of Brotherly Love stood by Charleston’s side by donating financially to aid in rebuilding this area in 1811.
What a more proper thank you than to forever give this beautiful strip of canopy covered, cobblestone refuge from the heat during the summer months, and the best place to listen to the bells of St. Phillips Church the honor of the name Philadelphia Alley.
Many locals refer to this passageway as Dueler’s Alley. Back when gentleman settled their disputes with pistols twenty-one paces away, this alley was the perfect setting in Charleston to do so. One of the most famous stories is of one man’s love and what he did to prove said love. Dr. Joseph Brown Ladd, known as the whistling doctor would eventually meet his demise as a result of a duel with Ralph Isaacs in 1786.
Many local ghost tour companies will tell the tale of the Whistling Doctor, and some Charlestonians have even said to have heard faint whistling while walking down the alley alone. Today you will find a tranquil, picturesque setting where each person you meet will pass you by with a friendly smile and nod. So as Robert Frost first suggest, take the road less traveled and be sure to explore Charleston’s only Philadelphia Alley.