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Washington Square

Photo by Ron Anton Rocz

Although this park was officially named Washington Square in 1881 in commemoration of the centennial of the surrender of the British at Yorktown in 1781, it is still often referred to as City Hall Park, its old name.
The site of the park was originally covered with houses fronting Meeting, Chalmers, Broad and Market Square (later called National Bank Square), a small street running along the east and north sides of the Beef Market (later site of the National Bank, now City Hall), just as Court House Square still runs north and west of the Court House. In 1818, when the Bank of the United States bought the adjacent land and tore down houses to form this park. The fence and gate were erected in 1824.
Monuments in the park include the battered statue of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, who championed the cause of the American colonies against the Stamp Act. The work of Joseph Wilton, an English sculptor, the statue was erected at the crossing of Broad and Meeting Streets on July 5, 1770, and was this country's first monument erected to a public man. New York's marble statue of Pitt was erected two months and one day later (Sept. 7, 1770) and her bronze statue of King George III on August 16, 1770. Virginia's statue of Lord Botetourt, a royal governor (still standing at the College of William and Mary) arrived in 1773.
Charleston's statue of Pitt cost $1,000, a sum voted in May, 1766 by the Commons of the Assembly. In typical 18th century style, the statue portrays Pitt as a Roman orator clad in a toga, with one arm holding a scroll. The other arm, which was upraised, was broken off in 1780 by a shell fired from a British battery on James Island. The head was broken off accidentally when the statue was removed from the intersection in 1794, when it was considered an obstruction to traffic. It was first stored and later set up in the yard of the Orphan House, where the children described the figure as "George Washington just getting out of bed." In 1891, the statue was moved to Washington Square.
Other monuments commemorate the Confederate military; the Washington Light Infantry; the Charleston-born poet Henry Timrod (1829-1867); Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, commander of Confederate forces in Charleston during the Civil War; Elizabeth Jackson, mother of President Andrew Jackson, who died in a Charleston epidemic after serving as a volunteer nurse; and Francis Salvador, the first Jew elected to public office in America and the first Jew to die for his country in America. Salvador, who was elected to the First and Second Provincial Congresses of South Carolina, was killed and scalped by pro-British Cherokees in Ninety-Six District, on Aug. 1, 1776, at the age of 29.
Ravenel, Architects , 93. Rogers, Charleston in the Age of the Pinckneys , 58. Whitelaw & Levkoff, 82. Fraser, Reminiscences , 35-38.