Mount Pleasant Magazine July/August 2023

29 www. ReadMPM. com | www.MountPl easantMagaz i ne. com | www. ShemCreekRes taurant s . com Coleman Boulevard is more than just a gateway to the beach. It’s Mount Pleasant’s Main Street, USA. It was where all the action began in the early 20th century and it remains the heart and soul of the town today. Coleman Boulevard was named after Mayor Francis Coleman, who steered the town through the rapid development of the 1950s and its transformation from a farming community to a suburban hotspot. Before that, what we now know as Coleman had been U.S. Highway 17, created when the Old Georgetown Highway was rerouted to connect with the newly-built Cooper River Bridge in 1929. When an additional bridge was constructed in 1967, Highway 17 “bypass” was created, pulling traffic away from the business district of Coleman Boulevard. Besides alleviating traffic congestion on Coleman, it was a boon for the local economy as shoppers began to patronize the strip malls along the bypass. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo forced the shuttering of some businesses along Coleman, and those that survived struggled to compete with the ever-expanding activity on the bypass. Over the last decade, however, Coleman Boulevard has re–established its reputation as the iconic main street it once was — and business is booming. A CULINARY TOWN When residents from downtown Charleston first began relocating “across the bridge” in the 1950s, new neighborhoods such as the Groves, Bayview Acres, Brookgreen and Shemwood popped up adjacent to Coleman Boulevard. Supermarkets, shopping centers, movie theaters, restaurants, churches, a public high school and a television station diversified the offerings. Shem Creek changed, too, transitioning from its former identity as the center of shrimping and boat building to become the hub of renowned seafood dining establishments, beginning with the famed Lorelei and Trawler. Back then, the familyfriendly Fork Restaurant between the Shem Creek Bridge and Broadway Street was literally the restaurant — as in the only one in town. Later came Piggy Park, a drive-in barbeque place owned by the Bessinger family, located on the spot that is now Page’s Okra Grill. The drive-in was later replaced by Alex’s Diner, well-known as the last stop for late-night revelers, since it stayed open until 2 a.m. When fast food joints our town 1960 – Shem Creek gained new identity with establishment of seafood restaurants 1966 – Highway 17 Bypass created and Silas Pearman Bridge (new Cooper River Bridge) opened 1989 – Hurricane Hugo made landfall in the Lowcountry as a Category 5 1990s – Coleman Boulevard Merchant Alliance created 2005 – Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge opened The For k Res taurant .