I recently visited Charleston, SC for a professional conference. Although I didn’t have a lot of time to explore the city, I very much liked what I saw. Although Charleston had a nice waterfront, an aquarium, museums and lots of high end restaurants, its big draw is its historic residential district. I was told that the city has a strong historic preservation code, and I saw for myself an active Historic Charleston Foundation, which ran two great shops, from which purchases were free of sales tax due to their not-for-profit status. The city also had a residential permit parking system, necessary to attract owner-occupants to older areas.
It is clear to me that Albany’s historic neighborhoods, if upgraded to the level of those in Charleston, also could drive the economic engine of tourism. People like seeing block after block of old houses if the district has maintained its integrity and is safe and near hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions. Could Albany emulate Charleston and achieve some measure of success as a tourist destination because if its historic residential areas? The success of local house and garden tours suggests it may be worth a try.
Incidentally, in the second trip department, I had some spare time my last day, and opted to save about $35 by taking a city bus from the tourist district to the airport. The service was direct, in the sense that it did not require changing buses, but the route was meandering and slow. However, I got to see some non-tourist areas of the city in air conditioned comfort.