A stroll on Charleston’s Wonders Way

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Charleston’s Arthur Ravenel Junior Bridge has eight lanes for vehicles and two for pedestrians and cyclists, known as Wonders Way.

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Pedestrians get a close-up look at the engineering marvels of the Ravenel bridge.

Charming, historic streets of Charleston, S.C., may beckon and, oh yes, I will listen to them. Meeting Street, King, East Bay, Market, the Battery — they are all a stroll into history, cultural and some mighty fine shopping.

But to get a fuller picture of the town I took my niece’s suggestion and followed her across the Ravenel Bridge. Besides eight lanes of traffic, the bridge has a wide walking and biking lane known as Wonders Way. It’s named for a cyclist hit by a truck.

The bridge, completed in 2005, with its soaring suspension structure, has become a modern icon for this history-bound city. The two-plus-mile bridge over the Cooper  River usually carries some 75,000 cars a day between Charleston and Mount Pleasant. And lots and lots of runners, walkers and cyclists. In 2015, it became a symbol of grief and unity when local residents linked arms to honor the members of Mother Emanuel AME Church killed during a bible study. About 1,000 people were expected. More than 15,000 came, my niece said — she did too but by then the eight-lane bridge was packed with people.

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The USS Yorktown is moored at Patriots Point on the Cooper River, in Mount Pleasant.

Even on a weekday the walking and cycling lanes are busy. And no wonder. Who could resist a stroll over the river to take in the sight of the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point? Or see what ships are coming into the port? Or see in the distance Sullivan’s Island, Fort Sumter, or the spires of downtown Charleston.

You can walk the whole thing. Or you can park your car at the end, walk to the middle and go back. Because the weather was cold and the wind was running about 16 mph, we chose the second option. We parked at a gas station on the Mount Pleasant side and walked to about the mid-way point. Then we turned around and walked back. The first half, obviously, is uphill. The wind in our face on the way up was at our back on the return trip. So once we turned around it was all easy sailing.

A different way to look at the Holy City, catch up with a charming young lady and enjoy the outdoors.

The sun glitters on the Cooper River as it flows past Charleston's port and historic district.

The sun glitters on the Cooper River as it flows past Charleston’s port and historic district.

 

Ⓒ Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman

 

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