Photo credit: Charleston Post & Courier

One of the most valuable patches of land in downtown Charleston was underwater for more than a century after the city was founded. And without careful planning, the water could be Union Pier’s undoing.

The entire site was tidal flats, marshes or open water until workers began dumping debris from trash and construction sites in the late-1700s. In some cases, brick structures were dropped into the marsh, where they likely remain today.

Atop the new ground, they built piers and wharves for the surrounding businesses, including railroad terminals, navy yards and junkyards, along with a fertilizer plant and other manufacturers that often used hazardous substances or had boiler rooms with fuel tanks.

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