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monsoon

South Carolina's Cities (Healthy cities vs not So Healthy)

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Here are the population estimates for the largest cities in SC from the US Census. I was shocked to learn that Rock Hill is now larger than Greenville.

note: 2003 population, population growth 1990-2003

  1. Columbia - Population - 117,357, Population Growth +2.5%

  2. Charleston - Population - 101,024, Population Growth +11.2%

  3. North Charleston - Population - 81,577, Population Growth -5.4%

  4. Rock Hill - Population - 56,114, Population Growth +28.0%

  5. Greenville - Population - 55,926, Population Growth -4.5%

  6. Mt Pleasant - Population - 54,788, Population Growth +68.2% :shok:

  7. Sumpter - Population - 39,790, Population Growth -8.9%

  8. Spartanburg - Population - 38,718, Population Growth -11.9%

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I'd like to see the 2006 population estimate. Because I know that Greenville is not still losing population, like these numbers suggest. I'd say Rock Hill won't be in 4th for long... but we'll see. :rolleyes::)

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[*]Charleston - Population - 101,024, Population Growth +11.2%

[*]Mt Pleasant - Population - 54,788, Population Growth +68.2% :shok:

The population explosion is due to the following:

Mt Pleasant is building up like crazy outside of I-526: along US 17 and up on SC 41 until you reach Cainhoy.

Charleston is building up over in Daniel Island, even though that is Berkeley County. I find it funny you have leave your own city to get back in the city again. :rofl:

I have not been over in Johns Island for quite some time but i would not be suprised if the sprawl is still occuring along Maybank Highway.

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In Greenville's case, the numbers are quite irrelevant, as we've settled in other discussions. To say that "Greenville" is losing population is insane considering the City is only able to annex a few acres here and there when available. The largest city in the largest region of the state is extremely healthy, I assure you all. :thumbsup:

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What does annexation have to do with losing population? If anything, that means the area is suffering from really bad sprawl if the only way it can maintain its population is via annexation. City population, especially center city population, is very very relevant.

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Since the daytime population within the City of Greenville is estimated at around 200,000 and growing steadily, I would say yes, it is very healthy. As you know yourself (Lake Norman/Charlotte), living within the city center itself is not always the choice individuals and families make. ;)

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Truly, bad sprawl can occur in a city that IS annexing & is gaining in population. Municipal boundaries do not in the least portray an accurate picture of 'sprawl', sprawl can just as easily occur within the corporate body. With Rock Hill being the case, the municipal boundary itself is sprawling & incorporates a large number of low dense subdivisions / office parks that are beyond rural areas. Hence, municipal boundaries do not dictate sprawl, they are irrelevant 'invisible' lines that may or may not include what is understood as sprawl.

The real answer would be to determine what the pouplation gain / loss or existing population is within a relative distance from the city center compared to a similar figure for what is beyond that area. That would determine what the percentage of people are living in closest proximity to the city center & the population density is.

Additionally - one major criteria to consider, some city governments are often in favor of a stable population that does not increase signficantly. These city's philosophy is to make strategic annexations that benefit the tax base. Rather than increasing the city's clout by a large population, they prefer to serve a smaller population base by promoting greater commercialism in the city. So often, residential units are sacrificed for commercial / retail units in zoning cases. Lastly, gentrification can never be ignored, in particular in a central city area with increased property values, residential population will undoubtably lower for a time as smaller residential family sizes increase larger ones in housing units.

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Since the daytime population within the City of Greenville is estimated at around 200,000 and growing steadily, I would say yes, it is very healthy. As you know yourself (Lake Norman/Charlotte), living within the city center itself is not always the choice individuals and families make. ;)

Actually I live in the city of Huntersville which has 40,000 people located in about 20 sq miles. That would put it in reach of surpassing Greenville in a few years given the growth here in this city. And I would add they are very proactive in Huntersville about building transit oriented development, urban villages and preventing sprawl. Most of the cities in SC, if not all, could take a few lessons from Huntersville.

There is already $1.5 billion announced in TOD around the transit rail line that will built in Huntersville. And more on the drawing boards.

Nice try however. :lol:

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Here's a look at some of Greenville's growth. This was quickly put together (so it possibly lacks many developments, like those in the North Main neighborhood) and ONLY includes the immediate downtown area.

Link to Greenville's Growth

Also, Greenville just annexed a large cul-de-sac adding many residents AND one development out of downtown that is booming consists of 63 single family homes (Preserve at Parkins Mill). Midtown housing is booming and so is Augusta Rd infill. Verdae will soon be going up on single family homes and a retirement development, I believe.

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What does annexation have to do with losing population? If anything, that means the area is suffering from really bad sprawl if the only way it can maintain its population is via annexation. City population, especially center city population, is very very relevant.

I think annexation is relevant in that the only cities that show population gain are those that have the ability to annex. By ability I mean political fortitude or lack of adjoining communities to prevent annexation. Growth via annexation is not an uncommon practice in this country. Charlotte's growth is the same way. If Charlotte didn't annex into its suburbs then would it be as large a city as it is today? i doubt it. But North Carolinian cities have an easier time of annexing, so its really not fair to compre the two states.

I would not waste time doubting the facts. Greenville has lost population since 1990. So has Spartanburg. However, if you look at the latest estimates (2004) you can see that these two cities have both gained in population since 2003.

Greenville's downtown residential boom probably won't be significantly noticable for a few years. The numbers of new units, while impressive, are not fully occupied, and aren't enough to account for the loss in less attractive parts of town.

There is a pattern though... Each city that is losing population is doing so because it either does not or cannot annex significantly. Greenville and Spartanburg are a the situation where they cannot significantly expand their boundaries in a short period of time to reach into the new grwoth areas (not to meniton the political firestorm that would casue). Sumter does not do this proactively to my knowledge (though they could), and N Charleston is essentially landlocked.

The other cities (Charleston, Columbia, Rock Hill, Mount Pleasant, etc) do annex proactively. Charleston County is in the midst of a landgrab with its neighbors.

Florence has also gained population since 2000...

Florence- Population 30,595, Population Growth 2.6%

I think that what the city population means in the Upstate is different than what it means for the Lowcountry. In the Upstate I think it represents the core of the municipality and its health to some extent, but not the city as a whole. I see Greenville and Spartanburg as relatively healthy places overall. But take Florence- Many would not consider it a healthy place at all and yet it has a growing population. How can this be? My only solution is annexation.

So basicly I don't see these numbers as an indicator of health of the city. They are significant though.

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Whoa...Greenville couldn't catch back up with Rock Hill without annexing unless it did MAJOR dense infill projects....Rock Hill is annexing too much for them to catch up so Greenville will probably drop to at #5....N. Charleston is bigger in municipality....Mt. Pleasant will probably outgrow Greenville if it hasn't already

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Indeed. I am surprised that someone would bring NC into this discussion as it has no bearing on the topic at hand.

I did not list the smaller cities but here is what the Census currently estimates for the cities in SC.

note: 2003 population, population growth 1990-2003

  1. Columbia - Population - 117,357, Population Growth +2.5%

  2. Charleston - Population - 101,024, Population Growth +11.2%

  3. North Charleston - Population - 81,577, Population Growth -5.4%

  4. Rock Hill - Population - 56,114, Population Growth +28.0%

  5. Greenville - Population - 55,926, Population Growth -4.5%

  6. Mt Pleasant - Population - 54,788, Population Growth +68.2% :shok:

  7. Sumpter - Population - 39,790, Population Growth -8.9%

  8. Spartanburg - Population - 38,718, Population Growth -11.9%

  9. Hilton Head - 34,407, Population Growth +44.3%

  10. Summerville - 31,734, Population Growth +40.1%

  11. Goose Creek - 30,574 Population Growth +17.4%

  12. Florence - 30,267, Population Growth -1.8%

  13. Aiken - Population - 26,456 Population Growth +26.3%

  14. Anderson - 25,563, Population Growth -4.5%

The big unknown of course is Myrtle Beach as the Census has chosen not to provide any estimates for the growth there. Someone earlier said that Greenville had a daytime population of 200K. If that is a rule of thumb for estimating the size of cities in SC, then Myrtle Beach's daily averages of 250K-450K, depending upon the time of the year, would easily make it the largest city in the state. (that is if we are counting that way)

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But take Florence- Many would not consider it a healthy place at all and yet it has a growing population. How can this be? My only solution is annexation.

I actually think Florence may be healthier than many people, including myself, give it credit for. If I recall correctly, it was only one of three metro areas in SC to have a net gain of jobs from between 2000-2005, and the Pee Dee region of the state received the most capital investment of all other regions last year.

Just wanted to point out that little tidbit.

I'm really surprised that none of the Greenvillians have stated, "Well at least Greenville is denser than Rock Hill." :D

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LOL! They'll be here with there dense comments! Glad to see Columbia is growing again. It's regaining its population from 30 years of decline

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Yeah, Columbia is bigger now than it has ever been.

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Hilton Head is no suprise either. The island is trying to become so upscale and private, its like no other place! Even along US 278 inland like around Bluffton, is slowly trying to become just like HHI as well. Its not unusual for some people who cant afford this area are moving to or near Hardeeville and Ridgeville.

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If these growth rates hold until 2020, then South Carolina will look like this.

  1. Columbia - Population - 121,193

  2. Charleston - Population - 115,820

  3. Mt Pleasant - Population - 103,507

  4. Rock Hill - Population - 76,660

  5. North Charleston - Population - 75,816

  6. Hilton Head - 54,339

  7. Greenville - Population - 52,634

  8. Summerville - 48,374

  9. Goose Creek - 37,530

  10. Aiken - Population - 35,554

  11. Sumpter - Population - 35,159

  12. Spartanburg - Population - 32,692

  13. Florence - 29,554

  14. Anderson - 24,058

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Those are definitely lowball estimates, at least for Columbia and Charleston, as their 2005 populations are already at those figures.

I think by 2020, Rock Hill will have at least hit the 80K-85K mark.

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If these growth rates hold until 2020, then South Carolina will look like this.
  1. Columbia - Population - 121,193

  2. Charleston - Population - 115,820

  3. Mt Pleasant - Population - 103,507

  4. Rock Hill - Population - 76,660

  5. North Charleston - Population - 75,816

  6. Hilton Head - 54,339

  7. Greenville - Population - 52,634

  8. Summerville - 48,374

  9. Goose Creek - 37,530

  10. Aiken - Population - 35,554

  11. Sumpter - Population - 35,159

  12. Spartanburg - Population - 32,692

  13. Florence - 29,554

  14. Anderson - 24,058

Columbia's 2005 population is already estimated to be 121,395...Columbia's and Charleston's numbers are waaay to low on that 2020 estimate. lol...Rock hill is already above 60k so it'll definately be in the 85k range by 2020..

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I know that here in this state, we have more of a tendency to dismiss municipal figures, as they rarely accurately reflect the population of our urbanized areas; however, they are important when it comes to issues such as municipal tax base and bond ratings, which determines what role a city plays in charting its own fiscal destiny. When it comes to this, I think Greenville loses out big time, as it would appear that its residents would pay more in interest payments or bond insurance premiums in order to borrow the funds to build the municipal facilities that have been approved in bond elections.

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Indeed. I am surprised that someone would bring NC into this discussion as it has no bearing on the topic at hand.

I did not list the smaller cities but here is what the Census currently estimates for the cities in SC.

note: 2003 population, population growth 1990-2003

  1. Columbia - Population - 117,357, Population Growth +2.5%

  2. Charleston - Population - 101,024, Population Growth +11.2%

  3. North Charleston - Population - 81,577, Population Growth -5.4%

  4. Rock Hill - Population - 56,114, Population Growth +28.0%

  5. Greenville - Population - 55,926, Population Growth -4.5%

  6. Mt Pleasant - Population - 54,788, Population Growth +68.2% :shok:

  7. Sumpter - Population - 39,790, Population Growth -8.9%

  8. Spartanburg - Population - 38,718, Population Growth -11.9%

  9. Hilton Head - 34,407, Population Growth +44.3%

  10. Summerville - 31,734, Population Growth +40.1%

  11. Goose Creek - 30,574 Population Growth +17.4%

  12. Florence - 30,267, Population Growth -1.8%

  13. Aiken - Population - 26,456 Population Growth +26.3%

  14. Anderson - 25,563, Population Growth -4.5%

The big unknown of course is Myrtle Beach as the Census has chosen not to provide any estimates for the growth there. Someone earlier said that Greenville had a daytime population of 200K. If that is a rule of thumb for estimating the size of cities in SC, then Myrtle Beach's daily averages of 250K-450K, depending upon the time of the year, would easily make it the largest city in the state. (that is if we are counting that way)

I'd like to see your source for these numbers because my figures are quite different.... for example:

Florence in 1990 was at 29,813. Now maybe I'm missing something, but how is that a population loss from the 2000 population of 30,267+ Looks like a 1.5% gain to me. My 2003 numbers are also different that yours. Not by much, but for example, in Florence I am getting a population of 30,595.

For Spartanburg, based on a 1990 population of 43,467 I'm getting a populaiton decrease of -10.9%

For Mount Pleasant I based on a 1990 population of 30,108 I am getting an increase of 81.9%

I don't know about using downtown population for this discussion. I don't that it shows anything relevent here.

My source is the US Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/popest/cities/SUB-EST2004-4.html

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I'd like to see your source for these numbers because my figures are quite different.... for example:

My numbers come from the census as well. This link. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/45000.html

However, I just realized from your post that doing a mathematical add of the change form the 1990s and a change from the 2000s is not correct. Here is an updated chart:

Note that Greenville moves down, and is no longer one of SC's top 5 cities.

Growth 1990-2004

  1. Columbia - Population - 116,331, Population Growth, +18,279

  2. Charleston - Population - 104,883, Population Growth, +24,469

  3. North Charleston - Population - 84,271, Population Growth, +14,503

  4. Rock Hill - Population - 57,902 Population Growth +16,259

  5. Mt Pleasant - Population - 56,350, Population Growth +26242,

  6. Greenville - Population - 56,291 Population Growth -1,991

  7. Sumter - Population - 39,671, Population Growth -2,272

  8. Spartanburg - Population - 38,599, Population Growth -4,868

  9. Hilton Head - 34,371, Population Growth +10,677

  10. Summerville - 34,241, Population Growth +11,722

  11. Florence - 30,883, Population Growth +1,070

  12. Aiken - 27,299 Population Growth +7,427

  13. Anderson - 25,715, Population Growth -469,

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I don't know about using downtown population for this discussion. I don't that it shows anything relevent here.

Point understood - but possibly not 'downtown' but a general 5 mile buffer population would indicate the health, at least for the core area of the city (downtown, inner-ring neighborhoods & likely most suburban areas). Unless the intent of discussing 'health' of a city is based strictly on municipal governments, otherwise you're ignoring or 'covering up' the realities of population gain / loss in cities.

As noted, the only reason some cities have gained in population is due to annexations. I'm not confidant that Rock Hill would be gaining population if it was based on it's 1980 boundary. In most cases, population loss - since 1990 - exists in all SC cities, as central city investment had yet to be as apparent as it is becoming today.

But since the 'sprawl' word was mentioned, that is primarily why I am questioning the use of imaginary lines for this purpose.

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Point understood - but possibly not 'downtown' but a general 5 mile buffer population would indicate the health, at least for the core area of the city (downtown, inner-ring neighborhoods & likely most suburban areas). Unless the intent of discussing 'health' of a city is based strictly on municipal governments, otherwise you're ignoring or 'covering up' the realities of population gain / loss in cities.

As noted, the only reason some cities have gained in population is due to annexations. I'm not confidant that Rock Hill would be gaining population if it was based on it's 1980 boundary. In most cases, population loss - since 1990 - exists in all SC cities, as central city investment had yet to be as apparent as it is becoming today.

But since the 'sprawl' word was mentioned, that is primarily why I am questioning the use of imaginary lines for this purpose.

It would be interesting to map percent change at the block level.

We should define what factors makes a city healthy vs unhealthy. If its daytime population or residential population or some sort of economic indicator, we should spell that out first so that we can at least know what we are debating.

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^ You're exactly right, though the only sub-county employee population geographic body that I can use is zip code based. That has been difficult to use when combining with a census based geography.

But I have been - as a side project - been calculating the percentage of population based on 1 through 5 miles for the major cities. I still need to find an older cd that includes 1990 census figures, in order to calculate a comparison - what direction they are going.

But if anyone is curious enough - I have found some surprising numbers, regarding central city populations: Rock Hill has the second largest 1-mile perimeter population in the state.

Sorry - haven't included Florence, Anderson or Sumter yet, though I doubt they would compare significantly.

Columbia, 8509

Charleston, 11613

Greenville, 5602

Spartanburg, 5314

Rock Hill, 8539

Myrtle Beach, 3412

It's difficult to judge - based on different sized cities, what should be the norm. Smaller cities will 'cap out' at a closer distance than larger cities of course - such as Spartanburg, Rock Hill & Myrtle Beach. Otherwise the population expands beyond - with so far one notable difference, Charleston's population continues to expand beyond 4 to 5 miles, in comparison to Greenville & Columbia's 'cap out' at 3 to 4 miles. But as noted, Charleston contains significantly more people within it's city center than other cities, not to mention the geographic challenges of development placement that exists.

Anyways - it's a work in progress.

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