History of Columbia
Columbia was founded in 1786 by the South Carolina General Assembly, who was looking for the new state capital. The site of present-day Columbia was chosen because of its central position in the state. Before the city was established, there was a frontier fort on the bank of the Congaree River and in 1754 a ferry was introduced with the purpose of connecting the fort with the emerging establishments on the other river bank. The name “Columbia” was chosen as a poetic term for America, deriving, of course, from Christopher Columbus.
State legislature first met in Columbia in 1790. It was incorporated as a village in 1805 and as a city in 1854. The Santee Canal was completed in 1800, connecting Columbia to Charleston, which was very important for the development of the city. Columbia was one of the first planned cities in the United States, comprising of 400 blocks arranged in a two-mile square along the river. The streets were quite wide and organized in a network, much of which still exists.
After it was chartered as a city, Columbia continued to grow and soon became the largest city in the Carolinas. New population boost came with the arrival of the railroad in the 1840s. The trains were used primarily for the transportation of cotton balls. Cotton was the single most important industry in the city - in 1850 every business in the city was somehow connected to it. At the time, Columbia had a very large slave community. Many of the slaves were literate and organized between themselves.
The South Carolina Baptist Convention was held in December of 1860 in the First Baptist Church in Columbia. The members ruled in favor of secession. During the Civil War, many Confederate events were held in that church. During the last months of the Civil War, in 1865, during the occupation by the Union troops, much of Columbia was destroyed by fire, however the First Baptist Church survived.
During Reconstruction, Columbia was in the center of the national attention and received a lot of visitors who flocked to the city to see a Southern legislature with former slaves.
In the early 20th century, Columbia became a regional center of textile industry and had six large cotton mills. A construction boom took place in the city in 1911 and 1912, including several bank buildings, hotels and a shopping arcade. U.S. Army’s Fort Jackson was established in 1917 and reactivated in 1940 as Fort Jackson. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a group of pilots started training for the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo at Columbia Metropolitan Airport.
The first serious efforts to stop racial discrimination in the city, especially against Jim Crow laws, started in 1940s. The progress was slow and the first black students were admitted to the University of Carolina only in 1963.
In the 1990s and early 2000 Columbia made many efforts to revitalize the downtown area and completed some of the important projects, such as the completion of Colonial Life Arena and of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
Geography and Climate
Columbia is located on the fall line, which marks the boundary between the coastal plain and the upland region, after which the rivers from the upland form waterfalls. Columbia lies on the Congaree River fall line, and the river itself is formed within the city limits, by the convergence of Broad and Saluda rivers. The city is located approximately halfway between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, at 292 feet above sea level.
Columbia has a humid subtropical climate, with hot and humid summers and mild winters. The springs and autumns are mild.
The racial makeup in the city is 51.27% White, 42.2% Black or African American, 4.3% Hispanic or Latino, 2.2% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 0.25% Native American, 1.5% some other race and 2% two or more races.
The median household income in 2010 was $31,141 and the per capita income for the city was $18,853.
As a typical Bible Belt Southern city, Columbia is religiously dominated by Protestants. The largest group is the Southern Baptists, followed by Methodists.
Columbia has a diversified economy, with the accent on government sector, health care (the Palmetto Health hospital system) and education (University of South Carolina). Other large employers include SCANA, Fort Jackson, Humana/TriCare, United Parcel Service and Richland School District One. Some of the largest manufacturing companies include Michelin, International Paper, Honeywell, Westinghouse Electric, Bose Corporation, Trane, Spirax Sarco and others. Large national and international companies with headquarters in Columbia city area include Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, Ritedose Corporation, AgFirst Farm Credit Bank, Nexsen Pruet and Nelson Mullins.
Culture and Institutions
Columbia has a rich cultural life and some of the most important cultural institutions and sites of interest include Town Theatre, Trustus Theatre, Columbia Marionette Theatre, South Carolina State Museum, Columbia Museum of Art, The Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, South Carolina State Library, Richland County Public Library, South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra, Columbia Choral Society and Columbia City Jazz Dance Company.
Columbia is home of several influential musicians and acts, such as Band of Horses, Toro y Moi, Nile, Hootie and the Blowfish, Washed Out, Angie Stone and Young Jeezy.
Best parks in the city area include Finley Park, Memorial Park, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Congaree National Park and Sesquicentennial State Park.
Education in Columbia
The main campus of the University of South California is located in Columbia. The university offers 350 degree programs through 15 schools and colleges. Other institutions of higher education in the city include Allen University, Columbia College, ECPI University, Benedict College, Midlands Technical College, Virginia College, Fortis College, Columbia International University and several more.
Major highways in Columbia area include I-26, I-20, I-77 and I-126, as well as U.S. Routes 1, 21, 76, 176, 321 and 378.
The largest airport is Columbia Metropolitan Airport, serviced by American Eagle, Delta, United Express, Continental Express and US Airways Express.
Intercity passenger rail service is provided by Amtrak (Silver Star line) and the intercity bus routes are offered by Greyhound.
Mass transit in greater Columbia area is operated by Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority.