Charleston’s Historic District is now on the World Monuments Fund’s “2012 Watch List” because of a perceived threat to the city’s historic culture–the increase in cruise ships arriving in the port city. New-York based World Monuments Fund is a non-profit that helps preserve and protect historic and ancient sites across the nation.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley says a recent Carnival Cruise Lines debate with several environmental groups and some Charleston citizens has drawn attention to the ships–making them appear as a threat. However, he says more people are for the cruise business.
“There’s some people that downtown who are against the cruise business, but more people downtown are for it. It really is a very tiny, vocal, well-funded, organized minority (who’s against it),” says Riley.
Some Charleston citizens who live in the historic district are criticizing the tourists Carnival brings in to the city–saying their apparral is not up to standards with the tourists the city would want.
However, Mayor Riley disagrees, saying the cruise passengers help business.
“My ancestors from Ireland, England and Germany all in the 1800s came to Charleston and came on a ship–and probably when they got off the ship they might not have had their Sunday finery on. They might not have owned any Sunday finery,” says Riley.
Riley says many people move to Charleston expecting to live in some sort of resort. He says that’s not Charleston–
“This is a city and it’s a wonderful, diverse city. It’s a waterfront city and we’ve got longshoreman, and crate forwarders and suppliers working on the waterfront where people have worked since we were a city and we are going to keep it that way,” says Riley.
World Monuments Fund’s announcement comes four months after the National Trust for Historic Preservation put Charleston on its watch list for the same reasons.
Charleston has about 4.3 million visitors from around the world in a year.