Charleston Population 2017

Charleston has a population density of 1,152 people per square mile (445/square kilometer) in the city property. The larger urban area has a population estimated at 550,000. Charleston is part of the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which comprises Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester counties. The Charleston MSA has a population estimated at 713,000, which makes it the 76th largest MSA in the country.

Charleston Demographics

According to the 2010 census, the racial composition of the city was 70% white, 25% African American, 1.6% Asian, and 1.5% two or more races. Hispanics and Latinos of any race make up 2.9% of the population.

Charleston was once one of the most dangerous cities in America based on the number of crimes committed per 100,000 people. The crime rate has been declining, however. In 1999, there were 597 crimes per 100,000 people, although the rate dropped to 236/100,000 people by 2011. This compares with the national average of 320/100,000 people.

Charleston History

When Charles II of England retook the throne in 1660, he granted a charter to the Province of Carolina and sent the eight Lord Proprietors in 1663. It took several years for them to arrange for expeditions, although the first -- Charles Town -- was founded in 1670. Charles Town (which was later changed to Charleston) was settled by people from Bermuda under governor William Sayle. The settlement quickly became a major port town.

In 1718, the town was attacked by infamous pirate Edward Teach, or Blackbeard. As the capital of the colony, Charles Town was the southernmost English settlement in America until the Georgia colony was established decades later. It was subjected to many attacks from France, Spain, and pirates for the 40 years.

Most early settlers were from England, the Barbados colony, and Bermuda. Among the first settlers were free people of color who were born in the West Indies to Englanders and Africans. Even in the beginning, Charleston attracted people from many religious and ethnic groups. In fact, it was once home to the richest and largest Jewish community in all of North America until 1830.

Charles Town was the largest and wealthiest city south of Philadelphia by the mid-1700s, becoming the 4th largest port in the colonies behind Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Charleston was a major point in Revolutionary War. While it lost its status of state capital in 1786, it became very prosperous with an economy dominated by plantations until the mid-19th century. By 1860, almost 18% of the city's black population were free people of color, or almost 8% of the total population.

Charleston's 300-year history is evident in most neighborhoods, especially the city center, which has a large and well-preserved residential historic area that's popular with tourists. The city's downtown is free of skyscrapers. Instead, Charleston boasts historic plantation homes alongside new retail development.

Charleston Population Growth

Charleston is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. The greater Charleston area has one of the highest growth rates in America as more people move from surrounding counties to enjoy the city's rapidly improving economy. According to new census estimates, the Charleston MSA (or the Tri-County Area) was the 12th fastest-growing metro area in the U.S.

By 2020, Charleston County was previously projected to have a population of 371,000, but these new estimates show the county has likely already hit this mark.

Year Population Change
2015 132,609 10.40%
2010 120,083 24.20%
2000 96,650 20.20%
1990 80,414 15.20%
1980 69,779 4.20%
1970 66,945 1.50%
1960 65,925 -6.10%
1950 70,174 -1.50%
1940 71,275 14.50%
1930 62,265 -8.40%
1920 67,957 15.50%
1910 58,833 5.40%
1900 55,807 1.60%
1890 54,955 9.90%
1880 49,984 2.10%
1870 48,956 20.80%
1860 40,522 -5.70%
1850 42,985 46.90%
1840 29,261 -3.40%
1830 30,289 22.20%
1820 24,780 0.30%
1810 24,711 31.30%
1800 18,824 15.10%
1790 16,359 0.00%

Charleston Population in 2017 Source: Billy Hathorn

Charleston Race Data

Race Population Percentage
White 89,907 71.66%
Black or African American 30,826 24.57%
American Indian and Alaska Native 179 0.14%
Asian 1,626 1.30%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 115 0.09%
Some Other Race 488 0.39%
Two or More Races 2,317 1.85%

Population Pyramid

Charleston Housing Indicators

Indicator Value
Total Housing Units 59,689
Owner-Occupied Units 28,063
Renter-Occupied Units 24,387
Median Home Value $255,600
Median Rent $1,022
Vacancy Rate 12.1%
Houses With Mortgage 20,107
Houses Without Mortgage 7,956
Median Number of Rooms (per House) 5.3

This chart shows the employment and labor force participation rates in Charleston for residents over 16 years of age. The 2015 unemployment rate is 4.5% and the labor force participation rate is 66.9%.

Charleston Family/Household Indicators

Indicator Value
Average Household Size 2.32
Average Family Size 3.02
Married Couple Families 19,620
Male Householder (no wife) Families 1,705
Female Householder (no husband) Families 5,991
Non Family Households
Unmarried Partner Households (Opposite Sex) 5.4%
Unmarried Partner Households (Same Sex) 0.4%