Charleston, S.C., Named Most-Polite City

ByKim Baca

C O L U M B I A, S.C., Nov. 25, 2000 -- 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 whoyou ask.

“Charleston is the role model for the rest of the country,”said etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart, who released thelatest list of polite cities Friday.

Not Everyone Agrees

However, Andrew Hanson, who has lived in Charleston 11 years, isnot convinced the city is full of charm.

“We’re very good with visitors,” Hanson said. “We’re all overthem like a cheap suit. But to those who live here — the mannerscould be improved. We’re not as gracious as everybody makes us outto be.”

Charleston has been on the list all 24 years it has beencompiled by Stewart, the author of Common Sense Etiquette.

Stewart bases her list on thousands of letters and faxes, manyof 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 agentleman in action,’” Stewart said.

But New Jersey native Rich Hanf, who has lived in the Charlestonarea for four years, thinks that a lot of politeness appears to beon the surface.

“We found it difficult to break through the barrier to makefriends,” he said.

Tourist City With Old-School Style

Local etiquette teacher Mary Cecile Kennerty defends the choiceof Charleston as the best-mannered city.

“I definitely think Charleston is worthy of the honor,” saidKennerty, who teaches etiquette to fourth-, fifth- andsixth-graders through the National League of Junior Cotillion.

“Politeness is emphasized because, in Charleston, we draw somuch on tourists, but it’s also about the old way.”

This is the seventh year Charleston has topped the list. Thecommunities known as the Quad Cities on the Illinois and Iowa linewere the runner-ups.

The Quad Cities have “instructed taxi drivers how to greetguests and make guests feel welcomed,” Stewart said, adding thatpeople who sent her letters about the area “loved to do businessthere.”

Following the Quad Cities area — which includes Davenport andBettendorf in Iowa, and Moline and Rock Island in Illinois —Milwaukee ranked third on the mannerly cities list, and Las Vegaswas fourth.

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