A look at the newspaper’s most popular online stories through the years

Some form of a website for the Charleston City Paper has existed since 1998 at CharlestonCityPaper.com. It’s no surprise, however, that the original website looked far from the sleek, news-forward site City Paper has today.

In the late 1990s before the days of Instagram influencers and YouTube tutorials, the World Wide Web was a strange place filled with basic, now antiquated site templates, peppered with bright, over-the-top animation and customized cursors. Most old websites don’t look retro. They look, well, just bad by today’s standards.

Thanks to digital archive The Wayback Machine, you can get a glimpse into our digital past by accessing previously cached versions of the site. On Oct. 6, 1999, for example, the City Paper’s main website story discussed a proposed futuristic state-of-the-art light rail system that never came to be. A year later the old site showed the City Paper dabbling in the digital ad sphere with a banner ad for softrugs.com (the “softest rugs in the cybersphere”) and a small sidebar ad promoting a real novelty — a retailer of books, CDs and videos with the unlikely name of Amazon.com. In the top right corner sat an aggressively flashing
“WIN A FREE CITY PAPER T-SHIRT” graphic that asked readers to mail in for the giveaway.

Google Analytics didn’t appear on the scene until 2005, making it impossible to check the popularity of our earliest online stories, but based on the data we have, here are the top City Paper articles that continue to wow readers around the world:

If you were wondering if we would go there when folks started asking if Lindsey Graham was gay? Of course we did. | illustration by Steve Stegelin

1. “Is Lindsey Graham gay?” by Greg Hambrick, 2007

A burning question on the minds of readers since 2007, “Is Lindsey Graham Gay?” is the City Paper’s all-time most viewed online story by a wide margin. And it generates new readers almost daily. In fact, pretty much any time the long-time bachelor crops up in the news, this story skyrockets to the top of our Most Viewed list. Two weeks ago on July 13 when Graham was ordered to testify before a special grand jury in Georgia, the story received 360 views just that day. 

 2. “OK, Charleston: Here’s the deal with those ‘love bugs’ ” by Lauren Hurlock, 2019

Anyone who’s lived in Charleston for more than a year knows exactly what this headline is referring to. What is the deal with love bugs? Despite their cutesy name, they’re a relatively forgettable insect until those two times of year (late spring and early fall) when suddenly they’re freaking everywhere. And we mean that literally. Love bugs emerge each year in May and September, and while they’re getting it on, we humans are cleaning them off our windshields, trying to keep them out of the house and hoping one paired-up couple doesn’t accidentally fly into our unsuspecting mouths. This popular story from 2019 outlined why love bugs appear here and how to deter them. 

 3. “How to rid your house of no-see-ums” by Paul Bowers, 2011

Damn, y’all really hate insects. This very brief online article from 2011 suggests leaving a bowl filled with half dish soap and half vinegar on the counter. That’s it. That’s all you need to know.

 4. “Keep on eye on Hurricane Dorian with these webcams” by Lauren Hurlock, 2019

When Hurricane Dorian rolled towards South Carolina on Sept. 4, 2019, people were scared. It already devastated parts of the Bahamas’ northwest islands as a Category 5 hurricane with recorded winds 185 mph and gusts up to 220 mph. According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, 441,000 people evacuated ahead of the hurricane, but City Paper offered links to webcams around the Lowcountry to help displaced residents and weather junkies stay tuned in. You can still check out the links today, though you won’t find any sign of Dorian.

Find Dave Chappelle and Bill Murray in this photo from Recovery Room | Courtesy Recovery Room

 5. “Dave Chappelle partied with Bill Murray at Rec Room, did a couple shows and made a few calls while in Charleston for Andrew Yang” by Sam Spence, 2020

After Dave Chappelle performed a comedy show on Jan. 27, 2020, at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, he surprised the staff and patrons of the Recovery Room by stopping by for a drink at the dive bar with fellow comedians Michelle Wolf and Bill Murray. According to the story, Rec Room posted videos to its Instagram account of Chappelle standing on the bar’s pool table saying, “I love you, but I don’t want to take any f***ing pictures.” (Rec Room owner Chris DiMattia and some of his staff managed to get a group photo with him and his crew anyway.) 

 6. “Essential playlist for any cover band” by our staff, 2009

Former City Paper music editor T. Ballard Lesemann pulled together a special issue in 2009 intended as a guide for musicians in town. It covered everything from how to write a press release to suggested playlists for cover bands in town — and the latter has stayed on people’s mind. This guide offers playlists by genre, including rock, blues, dance and more. Some of the hits on the list? Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Pray,” The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and The Gap Band’s “You Dropped a Bomb on Me.” All still jams, honestly.

Chef Robert Stehling’s Hominy Grill was a perpetual favorite among locals

 7. “Hominy Grill is closing the beloved Charleston breakfast spot” by Mary Scott Hardaway, 2019

A long-time staple in the Charleston food scene, Hominy Grill closed its doors on Rutledge Avenue for the last time on April 28, 2019. Opened in 1996, Hominy Grill was a well-known breakfast joint that also served dinner until 2001. It even made an appearance on several television shows including Food Network’s Man vs. Food and America’s Best. RIP Hominy Grill. Your shrimp and grits are still missed.

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