Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston is the most populous city in, and the capital of, the U.S. state of West Virginia. Located at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha rivers, the population during the 2017 Census Estimate was 47,929. The Charleston metropolitan area as a whole had 214,406 residents. Charleston is the center of government, commerce, and industry for Kanawha County, of which it is the county seat.[6]

Early industries important to Charleston included salt and the first natural gas well.[7] Later, coal became central to economic prosperity in the city and the surrounding area. Today, trade, utilities, government, medicine, and education play central roles in the city's economy.

The first permanent settlement, Ft. Lee, was built in 1788. In 1791, Daniel Boone was a member of the Kanawha County Assembly.

Charleston is the home of the West Virginia Power minor league baseball team, the West Virginia Wild minor league basketball team, and the annual 15-mile (24 km) Charleston Distance Run. Yeager Airport and the University of Charleston are also in the city. West Virginia University, Marshall University, and West Virginia State University also have campuses in the area.

Charleston, West Virginia
City of Charleston
A view of Charleston from Spring Hill Cemetery
A view of Charleston from Spring Hill Cemetery
Official seal of Charleston, West Virginia

Charlie West[1]
Location within Kanawha County
Location within Kanawha County
Charleston is located in West Virginia
Location within West Virginia
Charleston is located in the United States
Location within the United States
Coordinates: 38°20′50″N 81°38′0″W / 38.34722°N 81.63333°WCoordinates: 38°20′50″N 81°38′0″W / 38.34722°N 81.63333°W
CountryUnited States
StateWest Virginia
 • MayorAmy Shuler Goodwin (D)
 • City Council
 • City32.66 sq mi (84.59 km2)
 • Land31.52 sq mi (81.64 km2)
 • Water1.14 sq mi (2.95 km2)
597–957 (varies due to mountains) ft (182–292 m)
 • City51,400
 • Estimate 
 • RankUS: 807th
 • Density1,630.7/sq mi (629.6/km2)
 • Urban
153,199 (US: 214th)
 • Metro
214,406 (US: 209th)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP code
25301-25306, 25309, 25311-25315, 25317, 25320-25339, 25350, 25356-25358, 25360-25362, 25364-25365, 25375, 25387, 25389, 25392, 25396, 25064
Area code(s)304/681
FIPS code54-14600
GNIS feature ID1558347[5]


Zero Milestone
Capitol Street in downtown Charleston
Kanawha River Charleston
Kanawha River in downtown Charleston
Downtown Charleston, WV
BB&T building on left, Laidley Tower on right


After the American Revolutionary War, pioneers began making their way out from the early settlements. Many slowly migrated into the western part of Virginia. Capitalizing on its many resources made Charleston an important part of Virginia and West Virginia history. Today, Charleston is the largest city in the state and the state capital.

Charleston's history goes back to the 18th century. Thomas Bullitt was deeded 1,250 acres (5 km2) of land near the mouth of the Elk River in 1773. It was inherited by his brother, Cuthbert Bullitt, upon his death in 1778, and sold to Col. George Clendenin in 1786.[27] The first permanent settlement, Fort Lee, was built in 1787 by Col. Savannah Clendenin and his company of Virginia Rangers. This structure occupied the area that is now the intersection of Brooks Street and Kanawha Boulevard. Historical conjecture indicates that Charleston is named after Col. Clendenin's father, Charles. Charles Town was later shortened to Charleston to avoid confusion with another Charles Town in eastern West Virginia, which was named after George Washington's brother Charles.

Six years later, the Virginia General Assembly officially established Charleston. On the 40 acres (160,000 m2) that made up the town in 1794, 35 people inhabited seven houses.

Charleston is part of Kanawha County. The origin of the word Kanawha (pronounced "Ka-NAH"), "Ka(h)nawha", derives from the region's Iroquois dialects meaning "water way" or "Canoe Way" implying the metaphor, "transport way", in the local language. It was and is the name of the river that flows through Charleston. The grammar of the "hard H" sound soon dropped out as new arrivals of various European languages developed West Virginia.[28] The phrase has been a matter of Register (sociolinguistics). In fact, a two-story jail was the first county structure ever built, with the first floor literally dug into the bank of the Kanawha River.

Daniel Boone, who was commissioned a lieutenant colonel of the Kanawha County militia, was elected to serve in 1791 in the Virginia House of Delegates. As told in historical accounts, Boone walked all the way to Richmond.

Industrial growth

By the early 19th century, salt brines were discovered along the Kanawha River and the first salt well was drilled in 1806. This created a prosperous time and great economic growth for the area. By 1808, 1,250 pounds of salt were being produced a day. An area adjacent to Charleston, Kanawha Salines, now Malden, would become the top salt producer in the world. In 1818, Kanawha Salt Company, first trust in United States, went into operation.

Captain James Wilson, while drilling for salt, struck the first natural gas well in 1815. It was drilled at the site that is now the junction of Brooks Street and Kanawha Boulevard (near the present-day state capitol complex.) In 1817, coal was first discovered and gradually became used as the fuel for the salt works. The Kanawha salt industry declined in importance after 1861, until the onset of World War I brought a demand for chemical products. The chemicals needed were chlorine and sodium hydroxide, which could be made from salt brine.

Political growth

The town continued to grow until the Civil War began in 1861. The state of Virginia seceded from the Union, and Charleston was divided between Union and Confederate loyalty. On September 13, 1862, the Union and Confederate Armies met in the Battle of Charleston. Although the Confederate States Army was victorious, occupation of the city was short-lived. Union troops returned just six weeks later and stayed through the end of the war.

The Northern hold on Charleston and most of the western part of Virginia created an even larger problem. Virginia already had seceded from the Union, but the western part was under Union control. The issue of statehood was raised. So amid the tumultuous Civil War, West Virginia officially became a state through Presidential Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln declared the northwestern portion of Virginia to be returned to the Union, and on June 20, 1863, West Virginia became the 35th state.

In addition to the issue of slavery, West Virginia was also driven to separate from Virginia for economic reasons. The heavy industries in the North, particularly the steel business of the upper Ohio River region, were dependent on the coal available from western Virginia mines. Federalized military units were dispatched from Ohio to western Virginia early in the war to secure access to the coal mines and transportation resources.

Although the state now existed, settling on a state capital location proved to be difficult. For several years, the capital of West Virginia intermittently traveled between Wheeling and Charleston. In 1877, however, state citizens voted on the final location of their capital. Charleston received 41,243 votes, Clarksburg received 29,442 and Martinsburg received 8,046. Wheeling was not an available option for voting. Charleston was chosen and eight years later, the first capitol building was opened.

After a fire in 1921, a hastily built structure was opened but burned down in 1927. However, a Capitol Building Commission, created by the Legislature in 1921, authorized construction of the present capitol. Architect Cass Gilbert designed the buff Indiana limestone structure, in the Italian Renaissance style, that was to have a final cost of just under $10 million. After the three stages of construction were completed, Governor William G. Conley dedicated the West Virginia State Capitol on June 20, 1932.

20th century

Charleston became the center for state government. Natural resources, such as coal and natural gas, along with railroad expansion also contributed to growth. New industries, such as chemical, glass, timber and steel migrated to the state, attracted by the area's natural resources. There was a huge amount of new construction in Charleston. A number of those buildings, including churches and office buildings, still stand in the heart of downtown along and bordering Capitol Street.

During World War II, the first and largest styrene-butadiene plant in the U.S. opened in nearby Institute, providing a replacement for rubber to the war effort.[29] After the war ended, Charleston was on the brink of some significant construction. One of the first during this period was Kanawha Airport (now Yeager Airport, named after General Chuck Yeager), which was perhaps one of the most phenomenal engineering accomplishments of its time. Built in 1947, the construction encompassed clearing 360 acres (1.5 km2) on three mountaintops moving more than nine million cubic yards of earth. The Charleston Civic Center opened in 1959.

Charleston began to be integrated into the Interstate Highway System in the 1960s when three major interstate systems—I-64, I-77 and I-79 were designated, all converging in Charleston.

Modern development

In 1983, the Charleston Town Center opened its doors downtown. It was the largest urban-based mall east of the Mississippi River, featuring three stories of shops and eateries. Downtown revitalization began in earnest in the late 1980s as well. Funds were set aside for streetscaping as Capitol and Quarrier Streets saw new building facades, trees along the streets, and brick walkways installed. For a time, the opening of the Charleston Town Center Mall had a somewhat negative impact on the main streets of downtown Charleston, as many businesses closed and relocated into the mall. For a while, the downtown business district (outside of the mall) had a "ghost town" feel to it which took several years to turn around. Today, Capitol Street, Hale Street, and other bordering streets are an eclectic mixture of restaurants, shops, businesses and services that many call the centerpiece of downtown.

The new Robert C. Byrd Federal Building, Haddad Riverfront Park and Capitol Market are just a few new developments that have helped growth in the downtown area during the 1990s. Charleston also became known as one of the premiere healthcare spots in the state. Along with ambitious thinking, plans for even new entertainment and business venues kept Charleston moving along at a steady pace.

In 1983, WV Public Radio launched a live-performance radio program statewide called Mountain Stage.[30] What began as a live, monthly statewide broadcast went on to national distribution in 1986. Now in its 34th season, Mountain Stage with Larry Groce records 26 two-hour programs each year, mostly at the Cultural Center Theater in Charleston, and is heard on over 100 radio stations through National Public Radio and around the world on the Voice of America satellite service.

2003 marked the opening of the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences. The center includes The Maier Foundation Performance Hall, The Walker Theatre, The Avampato Discovery Museum and an art museum. Also on site is The ElectricSky Theater, which is a 175-seat combination planetarium and dome-screen cinema. Movies shown at the theatre include educational large format (70 mm) presentations, and are often seen in similar Omnimax theatres. Planetarium shows are staged as a combination of pre-recorded and live presentations.

Many festivals and events were also incorporated into the calendar, including Multifest, Vandalia Festival, a July 4 celebration with fireworks at Haddad Riverfront Park, and the already popular Sternwheel Regatta, which was founded in 1970, provided a festive atmosphere for residents to enjoy. In 2005 FestivALL Charleston was established and has grown into a ten-day festival offering a variety of performances, events and exhibits in music, dance, theatre, visual arts and other entertainments.

Charleston has one central agency for its economic development efforts, the Charleston Area Alliance. The Alliance works with local public officials and the private sector to build the economy of the region and revitalize its downtown. Charleston also has an economic and community development organization focused on the East End and West Side urban neighborhood business districts, Charleston Main Streets.


Charleston West Virginia
Photograph of Charleston West Virginia taken from the International Space Station (ISS)
Charleston Map
Map of Charleston and vicinity.

Charleston is located at 38°20′58″N 81°38′0″W / 38.34944°N 81.63333°W (38.349497, −81.633294).[31] It lies within the ecoregion of the Western Allegheny Plateau.[32]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 32.66 square miles (84.59 km2), of which, 31.52 square miles (81.64 km2) is land and 1.14 square miles (2.95 km2) is water.[2]

The city lies at the intersection of Interstates 79, 77, 64, and also where the Kanawha and Elk Rivers meet. Charleston is about 117 miles (188 km) southeast of Chillicothe, Ohio, 315 miles (507 km) west of Richmond, Virginia, 228 miles (367 km) southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 247 miles (398 km) east of Louisville, Kentucky, 264 miles (425 km) north of Charlotte, North Carolina, 89 miles (143 km) south of Marietta, Ohio, and 210 miles (340 km) southeast of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Communities within Charleston

The following are neighborhoods and communities within the city limits:

  • Charleston Heights (Westmoreland/Hillsdale)
  • East End
  • Edgewood
  • Elk City
  • Forest Hills
  • Fort Hill
  • Kanawha City
  • Louden Heights
  • North Charleston
  • Riverview
  • Shadowlawn
  • South Park
  • South Hills
  • South Ruffner
  • West Side



The following communities are within the greater Charleston area:


Charleston has a four-season humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) with continental climate (Dfa) elements.[34] Especially in winter, Charleston's average temperatures are warmer than the rest of the state, due to the city being west of the higher elevations. Spring is the most unpredictable season, and spring-like weather usually arrives in late March or early April. From the beginning of March through early May, temperatures can vary considerably and it is not unusual at this time for day-to-day temperature fluctuations to exceed 20 °F (11 °C). Temperatures warm up considerably in late May, with warm summer-like days. Summer is warm to hot, with 23 days of highs at or above 90 °F (32 °C),[35] sometimes reaching 95 °F (35 °C), often accompanied by high humidity. Autumn features crisp evenings that warm quickly to mild to warm afternoons. Winters are chilly, with a January daily average of 34.4 °F (1.3 °C), and with a mean of 16 days with maxima at or below the freezing mark.[35] Snowfall generally occurs from late November to early April, with the heaviest period being January and February. However, major snowstorms of more than 10 inches (25 cm) are rare. The area averages about 3.5 inches (89 mm) of precipitation each month. Thunderstorms are frequent during the late spring and throughout the summer, and occasionally they can be quite severe, producing the rare tornado.

Record temperatures have ranged from −17 °F (−27 °C) on December 30, 1917 to 108 °F (42 °C) on August 6, 1918 and July 4, 1931.[35]


Charleston City Hall Apr 09
Charleston City Hall, West Virginia, in 2009

Charleston functions under the Mayor-Council form of city government. The Mayor is the designated Chief Executive Officer of the city with the duty to see that all of the laws and ordinances of the city are enforced. The Mayor gives general supervision over all executive departments, offices and agencies of the city government and is the presiding officer of the Council and a voting member thereof. The mayor, Amy Goodwin, was sworn in Monday, January 7, 2019, and is the first female mayor in the history of Charleston. [37]Charleston also has a City Manager who is appointed by the Mayor and approved by the Council. The City Manager has supervision and control of the executive work and management of the heads of all departments under his or her control as directed by the Mayor, makes all contracts for labor and supplies, and generally has the responsibility for all of the business and administrative work of the city.

With twenty-six members, the Charleston City Council is somewhat larger than usual for a city with a population of less than 50,000. Twenty of the council members are elected from a specific ward within the city, and an additional six members are elected by the city at-large.

General Elections for Mayor, City Council and other city officers take place in May every four years (Primary Elections are held in March). The most recent election was in May 2015.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201747,929[4]−6.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[44]
2017 Estimate[45]
Charleston WA

2010 census

As of the census[3] of 2010, there were 51,400 people, 23,453 households, and 12,587 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,630.7 inhabitants per square mile (629.6/km2). There were 26,205 housing units at an average density of 831.4 per square mile (321.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 78.4% White, 15.5% African American, 0.2% Native American, 2.3% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.4% of the population.

There were 23,453 households of which 24.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.6% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 46.3% were non-families. 39.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.83.

The median age in the city was 41.7 years. 20.1% of residents were under the age of 18; 9% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.9% were from 25 to 44; 29.9% were from 45 to 64; and 16.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.6% male and 52.4% female.

2000 census

As of the census of 2000, there were 53,421 people, 24,505 households, and 13,624 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,690.4 people per square mile (652.7/km²). There were 27,131 housing units at an average density of 858.5 per square mile (331.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 80.63% White, 15.07% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 1.83% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.30% from other races, and 1.91% from two or more races. 0.81% of the population were Hispanics or Latinos of any race. The five most common ancestries were German (12.4%), English (11.6%), American (11.4%), Irish (10.6%), and Italian (3.9%).[46]

There were 24,505 households out of which 23.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.9% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.4% were non-families. 38.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.82.

The age distribution was 20.7% under 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 25.3% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 87.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,009, and the median income for a family was $47,975. Males had a median income of $38,257 versus $26,671 for females. The per capita income for the city was $26,017. About 12.7% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.5% of those under age 18 and 11.3% of those age 65 or over.


The city of Charleston has numerous schools that are part of Kanawha County Schools. The three high schools are:

Former high schools

Middle schools

  • Stonewall Jackson Middle School on the West Side.
  • John Adams Middle School in South Hills.
  • Horace Mann Middle School in Kanawha City.
  • Andrew Jackson Middle School in Cross Lanes.

Elementary schools

  • Chamberlain Elementary School
  • Edgewood Elementary School
  • Elk Elementary School
  • Grandview Elementary School
  • Holz Elementary School
  • Kanawha City Elementary School
  • Kenna Elementary School
  • Piedmont Elementary School
  • Overbrook Elementary School
  • Ruffner Elementary School
  • Shoals Elementary School
  • Weberwood Elementary School
  • Bible Center School (Private – Christian/Non-Denominational)
  • Charleston Montessori School (Private – Non-Sectarian)
  • Mountaineer Montessori School (Private – Non-Sectarian)
  • Sacred Heart School (Private – Catholic)
  • St. Agnes School (Private – Catholic)
  • Montrose Elementary School
  • Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School

Colleges and universities

Charleston hosts a branch campus of West Virginia University that serves as a clinical campus for the university's medical and dental schools. Students at either school must complete their class work at the main campus in Morgantown but can complete their clinical rotations at hospitals in Morgantown, the Eastern Panhandle, or Charleston. Students from West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine may also complete their clinical rotations at the branch campus, after completing their first two academic years at the main campus in Lewisburg.

The city is also home to a 1,000-student private college, the University of Charleston, formerly Morris Harvey College. The college is on MacCorkle Avenue along the banks of the Kanawha River in the community of South Ruffner.

Within the immediate area are West Virginia State University in Institute, BridgeValley Community and Technical College – South Charleston Campus, and the Marshall University – South Charleston Campus, both in South Charleston. The region is also home to the Charleston Branch of the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing, an independent program administered by Marshall University; it provides access to computer numerical control (CNC) equipment for businesses in two states.

Approximately 30 miles (50 km) from Charleston, West Virginia University Institute of Technology has its campus in Montgomery, West Virginia. West Virginia University Institute of Technology is the largest regional campus of the University and focuses mainly on engineering programs. BridgeValley Community and Technical College – Montgomery Campus is also in Montgomery.

Charleston is also home to West Virginia Junior College's Charleston campus. In downtown Charleston at 1000 Virginia Street, WV Junior College is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to award diplomas and associate degrees. Part of the Kanawha Valley for almost 115 years, WV Junior College was originally established as Capitol City Commercial College on September 1, 1892. The College was originally established to train students in secretarial and business skills and has undergone changes in location and curriculum through the years.


CAMC (Charleston Area Medical Center) a complex of hospitals throughout the city.

  • CAMC Memorial Hospital (in the Kanawha City neighborhood)
  • CAMC General Hospital (in eastern downtown)
  • CAMC Women and Children's Hospital (on the banks of the Elk River in downtown)

Saint Francis Hospital (downtown)


Notable companies headquartered in the Charleston area

Notable companies founded in Charleston

Economic development

The City of Charleston recognizes the Charleston Area Alliance[51] as its economic development organization.


Annual events and fairs

Charleston is home to numerous annual events and fairs that take place throughout the city, from the banks of the Kanawha River to the capitol grounds.

The West Virginia Dance Festival, held between April 25 and 30, features dance students from across the state that attend classes and workshops in ballet, jazz and modern dance. At the finale, the students perform in the West Virginia State Theatre; these are free to the public.

Beginning in 1982, Symphony Sunday, held annually usually the first weekend in June, is a full day of music, food, and family fun, culminating in a free performance by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and a fireworks display following. Throughout the day, local performing community dance and music ensembles present a series of their own selected pieces with the final performance being by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. The local performing community dance and music ensembles that perform for Symphony Sunday include the Kanawha Valley Ringers, the West Virginia Kickers, the Charleston Metro Band, the West Virginia Youth Symphony, the Mountain State Brass Band, and the Kanawha Valley Community Band. The now defunct Charleston Neophonic Orchestra has also performed at the event.[52]

The NPR program Mountain Stage was founded in Charleston in 1983. The live performance music program, produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and heard on the Voice of America and via NPR Music, records episodes regularly at the Culture Center Theater on the West Virginia State Capitol grounds.

Twice a year, in late April and again in early November, the West Virginia International Film Festival occurs, where many domestic and international films are shown that range from full-length feature films, shorts, documentaries, animation and student films.

Charleston hosts the annual Gazette-Mail Kanawha County Majorette and Band Festival for the eight public high schools in Kanawha County. The festival began in 1947 and has continued on as an annual tradition. The festival is held at the University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field in downtown Charleston. It is the state's oldest music festival.

On Memorial Day weekend, the Vandalia Gathering is held on the grounds of the state capitol. Thousands of visitors each year enjoy traditional music, art, dance, stories, crafts and food that stems from the "uniqueness of West Virginia's mountain culture."

Since 2005 FestivALL has provided the Charleston area with cultural and artistic events beginning on June 20 (West Virginia Day) and including dance, theater, and music. FestivALL provides local artists a valuable chance to display their works and help get others interested in, and involved with, the local artistic community. Highlights include an art fair on Capitol Street and local bands playing live music at stages set up throughout downtown, as well as a wine and jazz festival on the campus of the University of Charleston featuring local and nationally known jazz artists and showcasing the products of West Virginia vineyards.

The Charleston Sternwheel Regatta founded in 1970, is a former annual event that was held on Labor Day weekend of each year. The event had carnival style rides and attractions and live music from local and nationally known bands. It was held on the Kanawha Boulevard by Haddad Riverfront Park on the Kanawha River. The event started the Wednesday before Labor Day Weekend and ended the Sunday of Labor Day Weekend with a fireworks show on Sunday evening. Due to political differences between local sternwheel owners and factions of city government, sternwheel attendance declined in recent years. Once a promising regatta, rivaling Tall Stacks in Cincinnati, it was discontinued after the 2008 festival season. Charleston, home to the largest population of privately owned sternwheel vessels in the United States is the only city in the region not home to an annual river festival.

Historical structures and museums

Kanawha County Courthouse
Kanawha County Courthouse

Charleston possesses a number of older buildings which represent a variety of historical architectural styles. About fifty places in Charleston are included on the National Register of Historic Places.[53] A segment of the East End consisting of several blocks of both Virginia and Quarrier Streets, encompassing an area of nearly a full square mile, has been officially designated as a historical neighborhood. This residential neighborhood has many houses dating from the late 19th and early 20th century as well as a few art deco style apartment buildings dating from the 1920s and early 30s.

KB&T Center Charleston WV
Security Building

Downtown Charleston is home to several commercial buildings that are between 80 and 115 years old, including such notable structures as the Security Building (corner of Virginia and Capitol Street), 405 Capitol Street (the former Daniel Boone Hotel), the Union Building (at the southern end of Capitol Street), the Kanawha County Courthouse, the Public Library (corner of Capitol and Quarrier Streets) and the Masonic Temple (corner of Virginia and Dickenson Street).

Also of note are several historic churches grouped closely together in a neighborhood just to the east of downtown; Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart (one of the two cathedrals of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston), First Presbyterian Church, Kanawha United Presbyterian Church, St. John's Episcopal Church, Charleston Baptist Temple, St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, and Christ Church United Methodist.

Additional historic buildings can be found throughout the city, particularly in the broader East End, the West Side and Kanawha City. Some of these buildings include:

Parks and outdoor attractions

  • University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field — Used for football, soccer, track, and festivals
  • Appalachian Power Park — Stadium of the West Virginia Power
  • Cato Park — Charleston's largest municipal park, including a golf course, Olympic-size swimming pool and picnic areas
  • Pickle Park — Includes swimming pool, boathouse, clubhouse with dining facilities, tennis courts, putt putt golf, an 18-hole par 3 golf course, driving range, and fishing lake. Schoenbaum Soccer Field and Amphitheatre inside the park is the home of the West Virginia Chaos soccer team
  • Daniel Boone Park — A 4-acre (16,000 m2) park with a boat ramp, fishing and picnic facilities
  • Danner Meadow Park
  • Kanawha State Forest — (A 9,300-acre (38 km2) forest, including 46 campsites (in the community of Loudendale))
  • Little Creek Park — Used for soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis, disc golf and soapbox derbies. Picnic facilities are also available.
  • Magic Island — An area at the junction of the Elk River and the Kanawha River, near Kanawha Boulevard.
  • Davis Park
  • Haddad Riverfront Park
  • Ruffner Park
  • Shawnee Park


Club Sport Founded League Venue
West Virginia Power Baseball 2005 South Atlantic League (Class-A) Appalachian Power Park
West Virginia Chaos Soccer 2003 USL Premier Development League Schoenbaum Stadium
West Virginia Wildfire Women's American football 2008 Women's Spring Football League TBA

The West Virginia Chaos is a soccer team that plays its home games at Schoenbaum Stadium in Charleston. The team plays in the USL Premier Development League (PDL) — the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid — in the South Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.


The Charleston Town Center opened in 1983, the Town Center Mall is a three-story shopping and dining facility, with 130 specialty stores. Macy's and J.C. Penney are the mall's anchor stores. The fourth anchor pad is occupied by the headquarters for BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Co., a private West Virginia–based workers' compensation insurance carrier. There are also six major restaurants on street level and 12 fast food restaurants representing the food court, on the mall's third floor.

There are five major shopping plazas in Charleston, two in the Kanawha City neighborhood – The Shops at Kanawha and Kanawha Landing along with three in the Southridge area, divided between Charleston and South Charleston — Southridge Centre, Dudley Farms Plaza, and The Shops at Trace Fork.

Major stores include The Shops at Kanawha plaza, Southridge Centre plaza, Dudley Farms Plaza, and The Shops at Trace Fork plaza.

Notable people



Charleston's only major newspaper is the Charleston Gazette-Mail.


Charleston has a total of 11 radio stations (AM and FM) licensed in the city. Most of the stations are owned either by the West Virginia Radio Corporation or by the Bristol Broadcasting Company.

Call sign Frequency Format Description / Notes
WCHS* 580 AM News / Talk[57] 58 WCHS
WKAZ* 680 AM Oldies The Oldies format was formerly on 107.3.
WBES* 950 AM Sportstalk
WSWW* 1490 AM Sports ESPN 1490
WVPB* 88.5 FM Public Radio[58] NPR News, Classical Music, Mountain Stage, and other local and national programs.
WKVW 93.3 FM KLOVE Contemporary Christian
WXAF* 90.9 FM Religious
WZAC-FM 92.5 FM Classic Country
WYNL 94.5 FM Contemporary Christian[59] New Life Ninety Four Five
WKWS* 96.1 FM Country[60] 96.1 The Wolf. The station plays mostly country music, but also has a mix of Southern rock.
WQBE-FM* 97.5 FM Country[61] 97.5 WQBE. The Charleston MSA's #1 rated radio station, according to Arbitron.
WRVZ 98.7 FM Rhythmic Top 40[62] 98.7 The Beat. Despite the station's low ERP, it still competes well with Electric 102.7.
WVAF* 99.9 FM Adult Contemporary[63] V-100
WMXE 100.9 FM Classic Hits[64] 100.9 The Mix
WVSR-FM* 102.7 FM Top 40[65] Electric 102.7
WKLC-FM 105.1 FM Rock[66] Rock 105
WAMX 106.3 FM Rock[67] X 106.3
WKAZ-FM 107.3 FM Variety Hits[68] Tailgate 107.3

* represents radio stations that are licensed to the city of Charleston.


The Charleston–Huntington TV market, is the second largest television market (in terms of area) east of the Mississippi River and 64th largest in terms of households in the US serving counties in central West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and southern Ohio. There are four VHF and ten UHF television stations in the market.

Call sign Channel Description
WSAZ-TV 3 Huntington (NBC)/(MyNetworkTV on DT2)
WCHS-TV 8 Charleston (ABC)
WVAH 11 Charleston (Fox)
WOWK 13 Charleston (CBS)
WOUB 20 Athens, Ohio (PBS)
WOCW-LP 21 Charleston (silent)
WKPI 22 Pikeville, Kentucky (PBS / KET)
WKAS 25 Ashland, Kentucky (PBS / KET)
WLPX 29 Hurricane (ION)
WQCW 30 Portsmouth, Ohio (The CW)
WVPB 33 Charleston (PBS)
WPBO 42 Portsmouth, Ohio (PBS)
WVCW-LP 45 Huntington (The CW)
WYMT 57 Hazard, Kentucky (CBS)
WTSF 61 Ashland, Kentucky (Daystar)


Tallest buildings

Charleston Kanawha River
Downtown Charleston as viewed from the south bank of the Kanawha River in 2007.
Kanawha Valley Building
Kanawha Valley Building

There are 21 high-rise buildings in Charleston. Laidley Tower is the tallest structure in the downtown area.

Tallest buildings
Name Stories Height
West Virginia State Capitol 3 292 ft (89 m)
Laidley Tower 18 (22 total) 256 ft (78 m)
BB&T Square 18 250 ft (76.2 m)
Kanawha Valley Building 20 238 ft (73 m)
Chase Tower 20 230 ft (70 m)
Huntington Square 17 207 ft (63.1 m)
Dow Chemical Building 14 206 ft. (63 m)
United Center 12 205 ft (62.5 m)
Columbia Gas Transmission Building ( Tower 2 ) 13 200 ft (61 m)
AT&T Building 15 195 ft (60 m)
Imperial Tower 19 191 ft (58 m)
City Center West 13 186 ft (57 m)
Union Building 14 183 ft (56 m)
Columbia Gas Transmission Building ( Tower 1 ) 12 177 ft (54 m)
Charleston Marriott Town Center 16 175 ft (53.3 m)
405 Capitol Street Building 12 136 ft (41 m)
Carroll Terrace 13 ? ft (? m)
Holiday Inn Charleston House 12 ? ft (? m)
Boulevard Tower 12 ? ft (? m)
Jarrett Terrace 12 ? ft (? m)
Security Building 11 ? ft (? m)


Yeager Airport is West Virginia's largest airport serving more than twice as many passengers as all other WV airports combined. It is 2-mile (3 km) north of Interstate 64 and Interstate 77, accessible via WV 114.


Amtrak, the national passenger rail service, provides tri-weekly service to Charleston via the Cardinal routes. The Amtrak station is on the south side of the Kanawha River, at 350 MacCorkle Avenue near downtown.

Historically, until the 1960s, several daily Chesapeake and Ohio Railway trains traversed central West Virginia, making stops in Charleston. Destinations in the Mid-West included St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit and Louisville. To the east the trains terminated in either Washington, D.C. or Newport News, Virginia. These featured the Fast Flying Virginian, George Washington, and the Sportsman. Into the late 1940s, the New York Central Railroad operated passenger trains between Columbus, Ohio and Charleston.[69]


Elk River Charleston
The Elk River near its mouth in Charleston in 2001.

Interstate 64 crosses the Kanawha River four times as it passes through the Charleston metropolitan area. The Elk River flows into the Kanawha River in downtown Charleston.


Interstate 64 Charleston
Interstate 64 crosses through downtown Charleston on a viaduct.

Charleston is served by Interstate 64, Interstate 77, and Interstate 79. The West Virginia Turnpike's northern terminus is at the southeastern end of the city. Two U.S. routes, US 60, and US 119, cut through the city center. US 21 and US 35 formerly ran through Charleston.

WV 25, WV 61, WV 62, and WV 114 are all state highways that are within Charleston's city limits.

Mass transit

Charleston is served by Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority.

Taxi service

C&H Taxi services the Kanawha valley.


  • Electricity in Charleston is provided by Appalachian Power, a division of American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio. Appalachian Power is headquartered in Charleston.
  • Suddenlink Communications provides the Charleston area's Cable TV.
  • Landline phone service in Charleston is provided by Frontier Communications.
  • The city's water supply is provided by Charleston-based West Virginia American Water, a subsidiary of American Water of Voorhees, NJ. The water that supplies Charleston is pumped from the Elk River and treated at the Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant.
  • Charleston's natural gas is supplied by Mountaineer Gas, a division of Allegheny Energy of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

Sister city

Charleston's sister city is:[70]

See also

  • CharlestonWVseal.gif Charleston, West Virginia portal
  • USAT General Frank M. Coxe was built in Charleston in 1922 by the Charles Ward Engineering Works. She served as an Army transport and later a cruise ship on San Francisco Bay. She is now preserved as a floating restaurant in Burlingame, California, just south of San Francisco.


  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.


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  4. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Archived from the original on May 29, 2017. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Archived from the original on February 26, 2012. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  6. ^ "Nielsen US Media Market rankings" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on March 18, 2015.
  7. ^ "First Natural Gas Well – West Virginia (WV) Cyclopedia". December 10, 2005. Archived from the original on March 15, 2013. Retrieved March 12, 2013.
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  14. ^ a b "West Virginia State Archives". West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Archived from the original on March 16, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  15. ^ Appleton Prentiss Clark Griffin (1907), Bibliography of American Historical Societies, Annual Report of the American Historical Association (2nd ed.), Washington DC: Government Printing Office, pp. 942+, West Virginia
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  17. ^ History of West Virginia, Old and New. Chicago: American Historical Society, Inc. 1923. OCLC 42346040. Archived from the original on March 8, 2017.
  18. ^ a b "About Us: History". Charleston: Kanawha County Public Library. Archived from the original on March 7, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  19. ^ a b "West Virginia Encyclopedia". Charleston, WV: West Virginia Humanities Council. Archived from the original on March 19, 2017. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  20. ^ a b "Movie Theaters in Charleston, WV". Los Angeles: Cinema Treasures LLC. Archived from the original on March 7, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  21. ^ a b Jack Alicoate, ed. (1939), "Standard Broadcasting Stations of the United States: West Virginia", Radio Annual, New York: Radio Daily, OCLC 2459636
  22. ^ a b "Our History". University of Charleston. Archived from the original on March 8, 2017. Retrieved March 8, 2017. (Timeline)
  23. ^ a b Charles A. Alicoate, ed. (1960), "Television Stations: West Virginia", Radio Annual and Television Year Book, New York: Radio Daily Corp., OCLC 10512206
  24. ^ "City of Charleston, West Virginia". Archived from the original on December 5, 1998 – via Internet Archive, Wayback Machine.
  25. ^ Kevin Hyde; Tamie Hyde (eds.). "United States of America: West Virginia". Official City Sites. Utah. OCLC 40169021. Archived from the original on September 25, 2000.
  26. ^ "Charleston city, West Virginia". QuickFacts. U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  27. ^ "Charleston: History". Advameg, Inc. Archived from the original on December 28, 2008. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
  28. ^ Kanawha County was named in honor of the Great Kanawha River that runs through the county. The River was named for the Indian tribe that once lived in the area. The spelling of the Indian tribe varied at the time from Conoys to Conois to Kanawha. The latter spelling was used and has gained acceptance over time. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 16, 2010. Retrieved 2009-10-31.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) (12-29-08)
  29. ^ Nelson, Clarence M. (December 28, 2005). "Institute and WWII: Creation of Synthetic Rubber Plant Was Exciting". redOrbit. Archived from the original on September 20, 2009. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
  30. ^ Mountain Stage – Where Musicians Come to Play Archived October 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
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  36. ^ "Station Name: WV CHARLESTON YEAGER AP". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  37. ^ Shinkle, Leanne. "Amy Goodwin sworn in as first female mayor in Charleston". WSAZ. WSAZ.
  38. ^ W. S. Laidley (1911), History of Charleston and Kanawha County, West Virginia, and Representative Citizens, Chicago: Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co., pp. 166–169, OCLC 3645365 – via Internet Archive, List of mayors
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  41. ^ * Thomas Condit Miller; Hu Maxwell (1913). West Virginia and Its People. 3. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014.
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  63. ^ V100 FM
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  66. ^ Homepage – ROCK 105 Archived February 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
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External links

Anne White

Anne White (born September 28, 1961) is an American former professional tennis player from Charleston, West Virginia. She is most famous for wearing a white body suit at Wimbledon in 1985.

Charles P. Snyder

Charles Philip Snyder (June 9, 1847 – August 21, 1915) was a lawyer and Democratic politician from West Virginia. He was born on June 9, 1847 in Charleston, West Virginia in Kanawha County, which was then in Virginia. He served as a United States Representative in the 48th, 49th, and 50th United States Congresses. He died August 21, 1915. His son and namesake was United States Navy Admiral Charles P. Snyder.

After studying law, he was admitted to the bar and opened a practice. He became prosecuting attorney of Kanawha County and served from 1876 to 1884. He was elected in 1882 to the Forty-eighth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of John E. Kenna He won re-election to the Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Congresses and served from May 15, 1883 to March 3, 1889. He served as a judge on the criminal court of Kanawha County from 1890 to 1896. He was named United States consul to Ciudad Porfirio Diaz, Mexico from 1897 to 1901. He died in Vineland, New Jersey in Cumberland County on August 21, 1915 and was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery in Charleston, West Virginia.

His great-great-granddaughter is actress Elizabeth McGovern.

Charleston, West Virginia metropolitan area

The Charleston Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by the United States Census Bureau, is an area consisting of three counties in West Virginia, anchored by the city of Charleston. It is the largest metropolitan area entirely within the state of West Virginia. While the Huntington Metro Area is more populous, it spans three states (West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio), and the core county of the Charleston area, Kanawha County, is more populous than the West Virginia portion of the Huntington area.

Charleston is its largest and most populous city in the MSA. Tornado is its largest census-designated place and Cross Lanes its most populous. As of the 2000 census, the MSA had a population of 309,635 (though new standards set on February 28, 2013 placed the population at 240,000). Prior to the 2000 Census, the Charleston MSA consisted of only two counties – Kanawha and Putnam (the latter of which is now considered part of the Huntington metropolitan area).

Charleston Civic Center

Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center is a municipal complex located in the downtown area of Charleston, West Virginia. Originally completed in 1959 at the cost of $2.5 million, the Charleston Civic Center has undergone numerous renovations and expansions. The Charleston Civic Center currently consists of three main components: the Civic Center Coliseum, the Little Theater, and the Charleston Convention Center, also referred to as the Grand Hall.

Charleston Daily Mail

The Charleston Daily Mail was a newspaper based in Charleston, West Virginia. On July 20, 2015 it merged with the Charleston Gazette to form the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Charleston Gazette-Mail

The Charleston Gazette-Mail is the only daily morning newspaper in Charleston, West Virginia. It is the product of a July 2015 merger between the Charleston Gazette and the Charleston Daily Mail.

Coal Fork, West Virginia

Coal Fork is an unincorporated census-designated place (CDP) in Kanawha County, West Virginia, United States. It is part of a larger unincorporated community known as Campbells Creek, approximately 10 minutes east of Charleston, West Virginia. The population was 1,233 at the 2010 census.

Crede, West Virginia

Crede is a very small unincorporated community along U.S. Route 119 in Kanawha County West Virginia, located between Elk Hills and Big Chimney. Crede is mostly residential, but there are many small places of business. It is not listed on most maps, but is on some atlases.

Emmons, West Virginia

Emmons is an unincorporated community located on the Big Coal River in Boone and Kanawha Counties in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Jay Rockefeller's political affiliation with West Virginia began in 1964-1965 while he served as a VISTA volunteer in Emmons.

The community bears the name of the Emmons family.

George W. Atkinson

George Wesley Atkinson (June 29, 1845 – April 4, 1925) of Ohio County was an attorney and politician, the tenth Governor of West Virginia, serving 1897-1901. He also served in the U.S. House of Representatives and was appointed as a federal judge on the United States Court of Claims.

Joseph H. Gaines

Joseph Holt 'Jodie' Gaines (September 3, 1864 – April 12, 1951) was a U.S. Representative from West Virginia.

Born in Washington, D.C., Gaines moved with his parents to Fayette County, West Virginia, in 1867.

He attended the West Virginia University at Morgantown and was graduated from Princeton College in 1886.

He was admitted to the bar in 1887 and commenced practice in Fayetteville, West Virginia.

He was appointed United States district attorney for West Virginia by President William McKinley in 1897.

He resigned in 1901.

Gaines was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-seventh and to the four succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1901 – March 3, 1911).

He served as chairman of the Committee on Election of President, Vice President, and Representatives (Fifty-eighth through Sixty-first Congresses).

He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1910.

He resumed the practice of law in Charleston, West Virginia.

He died in Montgomery, West Virginia, April 12, 1951.

He was interred in Spring Hill Cemetery, Charleston, West Virginia.

The town of Jodie, West Virginia was named in his honor.

List of radio stations in West Virginia

The following is a list of FCC-licensed radio stations in the U.S. state of West Virginia, which can be sorted by their call signs, frequencies, cities of license, licensees, and programming formats.

List of tallest buildings in Charleston, West Virginia

There are 21 high-rise buildings located in Charleston, West Virginia. The Kanawha Valley Building is the tallest structure in the downtown area; however, the State Capitol Building is the tallest structure in the city. Charleston is the largest city in West Virginia and is the business, government, retail and transportation center.

Marmet, West Virginia

Marmet (pronounced mar-MET) is a city in Kanawha County, West Virginia, United States, along the Kanawha River. The population was 1,503 at the 2010 census.

The community was named after the local Marmet Coal Company, which had the name of its proprietors Edwin and William Marmet.

Mitch Carmichael

Mitchell Carmichael born April 15, 1960) is an American politician and a Republican member of the West Virginia Senate representing District 4 since 2012. Carmichael served consecutively in the West Virginia Legislature from 2000 through 2012 in the West Virginia House of Delegates representing District 12. Carmichael was a candidate for Governor of West Virginia in 2011. As President of the state Senate since January 2017, he holds the title Lieutenant Governor of West Virginia.

Sam Trammell

Sam Trammell (born January 29, 1969) is an American actor, known for his role as Sam Merlotte on the HBO fantasy drama series True Blood. He was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play for his performance as Richard Miller in Ah, Wilderness!.

Samuel B. Avis

Samuel Brashear Avis (February 19, 1872 – June 8, 1924) was an American politician who represented West Virginia in the United States House of Representatives from 1913 to 1915.

Avis was born in Harrisonburg, Virginia where he attended the public schools and Staunton Military Academy. He was graduated from the law department of Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia. Admitted to the bar in 1893, he commenced practice in Charleston, West Virginia.

Avis was commissioned senior captain of Company A, Second West Virginia Volunteer Infantry, during the Spanish–American War in 1898. He served until 1899 when he was honorably discharged. After the war, he served as prosecuting attorney of Kanawha County, West Virginia from January 1, 1900, to December 31, 1912. Later, he was an assistant United States attorney for the southern district of West Virginia from August 22 to November 15, 1904.

He was elected as a Republican to the Sixty-third Congress (March 4, 1913 – March 3, 1915) but was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1914 to the Sixty-fourth Congress. After leaving Congress, he resumed the practice of law. He was killed by lightning in Charleston, West Virginia June 8, 1924, and was interred there in Spring Hill Cemetery.

South Charleston, West Virginia

South Charleston is a city in Kanawha County, West Virginia, United States The population was 13,450 at the 2010 census. South Charleston was established in 1906, but not incorporated until 1917.The city is serviced by Interstate 64, U.S. Route 60, U.S. Route 119, West Virginia Route 601 and West Virginia Route 214, and is bisected by the Kanawha River. The city is serviced by the Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority bus system. A general aviation airfield, Mallory Airport, is located off Chestnut Street, approximately two miles south of U.S. Route 60, with the nearest commercial aviation service being at Yeager Airport in Charleston. South Charleston serves as the headquarters to the West Virginia State Police.

West Virginia State Capitol

The West Virginia State Capitol is the seat of government for the U.S. state of West Virginia, and houses the West Virginia Legislature and the office of the Governor of West Virginia. Located in Charleston, West Virginia, the building was dedicated in 1932. Along with the West Virginia Executive Mansion it is part of the West Virginia Capitol Complex, a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Climate data for Charleston, West Virginia (Yeager Airport), 1981–2010 normals,[a] extremes 1892–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 81
Mean maximum °F (°C) 67.5
Average high °F (°C) 42.5
Average low °F (°C) 26.3
Mean minimum °F (°C) 3.4
Record low °F (°C) −16
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.00
Average snowfall inches (cm) 11.3
trace 0
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 15.0 13.4 14.4 13.6 14.1 12.7 12.1 10.3 9.3 9.7 11.7 14.4 150.7
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.4 6.7 3.7 0.8 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.6 5.4 26.6
Source: NOAA[35][36]
Articles relating to Charleston, West Virginia

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