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From Our Editors
Al Ray's enthusiasm for Charleston's history is infectious. This passion carried him through the rough-going early days of his tour-guiding career, which started in 1980, he says, “with a pitchfork atop a pile of hose dung in a carriage barn on State Street.” Today, the Charleston native—whose forefathers arrived in the city in 1792—shares his deep knowledge while touring Charleston's oldest neighborhoods.
Tours casually wind down the city's cobblestone streets, past precolonial and postcolonial buildings that display a confluence of architectural styles, from Georgian to Greek Revival. As tourists snap pictures of wrought-iron gates, classical columns, and carbonite-encased cotton gins, Al shares stories about the people and events—such as the approximately 40% of slaves who entered the United States through Charleston—that transformed a 1670 pioneer settlement into a cultural hub of the South by the mid-1800s.