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krazeeboi

The history of our cities

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We all know that for a very long time, for most of the history of the state, Charleston overwhelmingly had dominance in SC. So when exactly did Columbia catch up and why? How and when did Greenville catch up? If I recall correctly, at one time Spartanburg was the center of influence in the Upstate, so how did Greenville surpass it? What about Florence and Myrtle Beach?

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In Greenville's early days, it was a resort city for the rich land owners in the lowcountry. I have yet to find information on when Spartanburg was more influential than Greenville. If there ever was such a time it has long since vanished.

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I think Columbia caught up after the Civil War...I know Charleston was the dominance in the Carolinas...But after that I don't think it really was like used to be in the 1700s and what not

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I would guess it was the reconstruction era too that was when Columbia 'caught up' with Charleston. As for Greenville - I'm thinking it was in the mid 1900's when it 'caught up'. I'm guessing that through the early 1900's the Upstate textile mill corridor was a very influential part of the state - but no one city truly dominated the region.

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Greenville only really started to "dominate" the upstate in 20th century. I will try to find some more information about that.

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My preliminary research shows that Greenville County did not overtake Spartanburg County in population until 1930, and it was not significantly higher in population (which I am defining as >10,000) until 1950. I will post more later.

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Greenville and Spartanburg really didn't become much of a city until the 20th century. They were important, yes, but not highly significant in the grand scheme. ;)

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Its true, and you can make that arguement, but the fact is that Spartanburg was at one point a larger place. And these stats are after the creation of Cherokee county (which was in existance for the 1900 census). I can't find any city population statistics for their entire histories. However, a quote from a Spartanburg history book gives an indication of Gaffney's size: "The county's income and pride suffered in 1897 when Gaffney, its largest town, and the upper northeastern part of the county split away and joined with parts of York and Union to form Cherokee County. "

Here are the county population stats:

Greenville:

1900	  1910	   1920	   1930	   1940	  1950

53,490	68,377	88,498	117,009	136,580	168,152


Spartanburg:

1900	  1910	   1920	   1930	   1940	  1950

65,560	83,465	94,265	116,323	 127,733	150,349

This also reflects Spartanburg's history as a rail hub... hence the nickname: Hub City. Spartanburg was and still is the place where rail lines from all directions cross. Spartanburg was the Hartsfield of its day. Even today it is an important rail center as those rail lines that go in all directions still exist. The many mill villages around the county usually bulit extensions to ship their product to Spartanburg for transfer to trains to further destinations (eg Glendale, Pacolet, Clifton/Converse, etc). That is how Spartanburg came to be. It sort of came together out of necesity. It was obviously not a planned city. If you look at maps from the 20s, the grid system that we ahve today is virtually non existant. Roads are haphazardly arranged. Its really amazing that we have come as far as we have come in Sparkle City.

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Interesting stats. So Greenville County started to really pull ahead during the 1930's. I'm guessing that's when the textile industry was really booming, since it was in the late 1920's that Charlotte pulled ahead of Charleston to become the largest city in the Carolinas.

Since the textile industry was also important to Columbia's growth, how was it faring during this time?

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I would guess it was the reconstruction era too that was when Columbia 'caught up' with Charleston. As for Greenville - I'm thinking it was in the mid 1900's when it 'caught up'. I'm guessing that through the early 1900's the Upstate textile mill corridor was a very influential part of the state - but no one city truly dominated the region.

After the Civil War, Charleston really hit the bottoms in 1890s when its volumn of port trade dropped from $98.5 million to $29.5 million. Too, CHARLESTON's leadership of elderly men were satisfied with the way things were done 40 to 50 years ago. They didn't want to change what had been & was now outdated and refused to invest in infrastrusture improvements. It took the Federal goverment to pay for deepening the harbor's shipping channel in 1878...

By 1940, grand old Charleston slumbered & was known as "buzzard town" because of the vultures circling over the city dump. I read that vistors complained about the terrible smell from the fertilizer plants that processed fish and chemicals north of the city. Meantime the port's wharves and warehouses rotted and ship hulls decayed on undredged mud flats. Most days, the harbar was quiet and empty of ship traffic. A NY consultant who then studied the port's prospects reported, "Most of Charleston waterfront is wholly useless save as an historical relic..."

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Wow, I didn't know Charleston had descended THAT far by that time. No wonder Charlotte had such an easy time zooming past it.

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Wow, I didn't know Charleston had descended THAT far by that time. No wonder Charlotte had such an easy time zooming past it.

The reason why Charleston has such a large historical district, well among several reasons are:

1. The city was not placed under direct seige, like Columbia, during the War of Rebellion

2. Due to its economic colaspe, people in the city had no way to modernise the structures in the town, so by the time that the historical restoration, "Old Charleston" was already there, it just needed to be renovated.

And throw in a Navy base that grew during the World Wars and Cold War with plenty of Federal investment in the shipping channel + a growing port to suit the international nature of SC's business needs, and viola! you get modern Charleston.

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The reason why Charleston has such a large historical district, well among several reasons are:

1. The city was not placed under direct seige, like Columbia, during the War of Rebellion

2. Due to its economic colaspe, people in the city had no way to modernise the structures in the town, so by the time that the historical restoration, "Old Charleston" was already there, it just needed to be renovated.

And throw in a Navy base that grew during the World Wars and Cold War with plenty of Federal investment in the shipping channel + a growing port to suit the international nature of SC's business needs, and viola! you get modern Charleston.

"The war of rebellion?" :huh:

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Hey, it's better than the "War of Northern Aggression." :D

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Actually the story was that Charleston was spared from being burned to the ground like Atlanta and Columbia by General Sherman, because his mother thought it was a lovely city. I remember Charleston in the 1960s, and the entire lower pennisula was pretty run down. You could have gotten a house int the battery area in these days by getting into a good card game as downtown property was often used as stakes for poker. Downtown Charleston was a place that people avoided.

There has been some debate as to if the burning of Columbia on February 17, 1865 which pretty much destroyed the original city. It's commonly believed it was burned by Sherman but there is evidence the city was lit up by fleeing Confederates who set parts of the city on fire to keep it out of yankee hands. If you are ever on the grounds of the State capital, and notice the Bronze stars on the capital building, these mark the location of where cannon balls hit the building.

The Civil War is also commonly known in the South as "The War Between the States".

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The Civil War is also commonly known in the South as "The War Between the States".

In Charleston, its known as "the late unpleasantness."

Charleston has a fascniating and rich history. Lots of ups and downs, wars, economy, etc. I am familiar with the larger scale events that took place there, but I am unfortunately nto as familiar with its other history. Thanks for sharing this information guys :)

Columbia burned because there wasn't much too it in those days. What burned was laregly the around around what we know as the CBD today.

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We all know that for a very long time, for most of the history of the state, Charleston overwhelmingly had dominance in SC. So when exactly did Columbia catch up and why? How and when did Greenville catch up? If I recall correctly, at one time Spartanburg was the center of influence in the Upstate, so how did Greenville surpass it? What about Florence and Myrtle Beach?

In 1900, Richland County was 7th in the state population rankings, making the biggest jump amongst the most populous counties in 100 years, to 2nd in 2000. Spartanburg and Anderson have seen the biggest slippage amongst the largest counties and Horry and Lexington made the biggest jumps.

Historic population figures

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Thanks for the comments zahc, interesting...

waccamat - thanks for the link, it may help out referencing an 1895 map of SC counties: http://www.livgenmi.com/1895/SC/state.htm

As you can see, among the losers geographically were Sumter, Spartanburg & Orangeburg, to name a few. I was about to add that Sumter & Orangeburg appeared to signifcantly trail behind other counties 100 years later. But those 2 counties were split up which explains their slump, as example - Sumter County was the 6th most populated county in 1920.

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Thanks for the comments zahc, interesting...

waccamat - thanks for the link, it may help out referencing an 1895 map of SC counties: http://www.livgenmi.com/1895/SC/state.htm

As you can see, among the losers geographically were Sumter, Spartanburg & Orangeburg, to name a few. I was about to add that Sumter & Orangeburg appeared to signifcantly trail behind other counties 100 years later. But those 2 counties were split up which explains their slump, as example - Sumter County was the 6th most populated county in 1920.

That's a cool map. It's nice to see how many people knew to avoid living on the coast at that time. Unfortunately we want to tempt the power of hurricanes today.

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Thanks for the comments zahc, interesting...

waccamat - thanks for the link, it may help out referencing an 1895 map of SC counties: http://www.livgenmi.com/1895/SC/state.htm

As you can see, among the losers geographically were Sumter, Spartanburg & Orangeburg, to name a few. I was about to add that Sumter & Orangeburg appeared to signifcantly trail behind other counties 100 years later. But those 2 counties were split up which explains their slump, as example - Sumter County was the 6th most populated county in 1920.

Charleston, on the other hand, has gained significantly...

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Thanks for the comments zahc, interesting...

waccamat - thanks for the link, it may help out referencing an 1895 map of SC counties: http://www.livgenmi.com/1895/SC/state.htm

As you can see, among the losers geographically were Sumter, Spartanburg & Orangeburg, to name a few. I was about to add that Sumter & Orangeburg appeared to signifcantly trail behind other counties 100 years later. But those 2 counties were split up which explains their slump, as example - Sumter County was the 6th most populated county in 1920.

Spartanburg County was also slit. But I'm not sure just when Cherokee County was formed.

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Good links. In the 1895 county map, it appears as though the SC/NC border is different; it slants down toward the southeast (from Spartanburg to York), whereas it appears to be more linear on maps today.

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Spartanburg County was also slit. But I'm not sure just when Cherokee County was formed.

Cherokee County is a relatively young county - split from Spartanburg & York Counties as you can tell on the map. Gafney has been around for a long time, but had grown large enough to warrent the need for a new county centered on that town.

In fact... on my mom's side a number of my family in the 1800's technically lived in York County, but were around Cherokee Falls, now in Cherokee County.

Krazeeboi - also, at some time in the 1800's the Fort Mill side in York County was once in Lancaster County. York had once been neatly divided by the Catawba & Broad River.

Spartan - I had never noticed that & I admit I'm a little puzzled by that. It would be interesting to review maps dating back to the colonial parrish system to the present showing how those counties were formed.

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Good links. In the 1895 county map, it appears as though the SC/NC border is different; it slants down toward the southeast (from Spartanburg to York), whereas it appears to be more linear on maps today.
The NC/SC border is different around York & Mecklenburg because Lake Wylie is there now. When they flooded the lake in 1904, the survey oblisk that marked the line at this point was submerged and subsequently lost. As a result they are not exactly sure where the actual line is these days because they have been unable to find the oblisk.

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