Charleston has graciously accepted another
title as the nation’s most mannerly city, an honor rooted in its
enduring tradition of Southern hospitality.
But whether the port city deserves such an honor depends on who you ask.
“Charleston is the role model for the rest of the country,” said etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart, who released the latest list of polite cities Friday.
Not Everyone Agrees
However, Andrew Hanson, who has lived in Charleston 11 years, is not convinced the city is full of charm.
“We’re very good with visitors,” Hanson said. “We’re all over them like a cheap suit. But to those who live here — the manners could be improved. We’re not as gracious as everybody makes us out to be.”
Charleston has been on the list all 24 years it has been compiled by Stewart, the author of Common Sense Etiquette.
Stewart bases her list on thousands of letters and faxes, many of them from people who have taken her etiquette courses. Charleston stood out.
“One woman said, ‘I make sure I visit once a year to see a gentleman in action,’” Stewart said.
But New Jersey native Rich Hanf, who has lived in the Charleston area for four years, thinks that a lot of politeness appears to be on the surface.
“We found it difficult to break through the barrier to make friends,” he said.
Tourist City With Old-School Style
Local etiquette teacher Mary Cecile Kennerty defends the choice of Charleston as the best-mannered city.
“I definitely think Charleston is worthy of the honor,” said Kennerty, who teaches etiquette to fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders through the National League of Junior Cotillion.
“Politeness is emphasized because, in Charleston, we draw so much on tourists, but it’s also about the old way.”
This is the seventh year Charleston has topped the list. The communities known as the Quad Cities on the Illinois and Iowa line were the runner-ups.
The Quad Cities have “instructed taxi drivers how to greet guests and make guests feel welcomed,” Stewart said, adding that people who sent her letters about the area “loved to do business there.”
Following the Quad Cities area — which includes Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Moline and Rock Island in Illinois — Milwaukee ranked third on the mannerly cities list, and Las Vegas was fourth.