The marshland along the Ashley River had been used by African American residents of the West Side for fishing, crabbing and recreation until it was filled with waste and debris, then with dirt bulldozed across the top to create new land.
In 1950, the city of Charleston began filling about 100 acres of the old Gadsden Creek wetlands with garbage. The project, which continued until the early 1970s, added to the city’s property holdings. It wasn’t too long before that land began to be developed.
Today, the 4 acres that remain of Gadsden Creek are a result of much manipulation and degradation, and the waterway is a flooding hot spot. The tidal inundation that impacts the West Side neighborhoods has become intolerable for many of its residents. A proposed fix is controversial and the debate over what to do about Gadsden Creek has heated up recently.
Calls to restore the small wetlands area have grown louder. The Charleston Area Justice Ministry recently joined the chorus, backing the advocacy group Friends of Gadsden Creek, which is litigating to stop the WestEdge company from proceeding with its planned mitigation work.