Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia is a large city situated in the Richland and Lexington Counties of the US State of South Carolina. Columbia serves as the state's capital city and is located approximately 21km northwest of the state's geographic center. It is also South Carolina's second-largest city and the first US City to bear Christopher Columbus' name. Locals affectionately refer to Columbia as the "Soda City," but not because any soda was created or produced there. Instead, the moniker stems from "Cola," the earlier nickname of Columbia. Moreover, Columbia also houses the campus of the University of South Carolina, the largest and most prestigious public university in South Carolina. 

Geography And Climate Of Columbia

Aerial panorama of the skyline of downtown Columbia, South Carolina
Aerial panorama of the skyline of downtown Columbia, South Carolina. 

Columbia is the principal city in the state's Midlands region, with a significant portion in Richland County and a small portion extending into the nearby Lexington County. Columbia is situated approximately halfway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Blue Ridge Mountains and is placed close to the meeting point of the Broad and Saluda rivers. To the northwest of Columbia, the Saluda Dam impounds Lake Murray. Columbia covers a total area of 361.68 sq. km, of which 354.25 sq. km is occupied by land, and 7.43 sq. km is covered by water. 

According to the Köppen climate classification, Columbia has a humid subtropical climate that is characterized by hot/muggy summers and very cold, snowy, and windy winters, with fog and rainy days almost all year long. The average temperature is 19°C per year, with July and January recording the highest (28°C) and lowest (8°C) average temperatures, respectively. On average, Columbia gets 511mm of precipitation yearly, with June reporting the highest number (63.8mm).  

Brief History Of Columbia

The South Carolina Supreme Court Building in Columbia, South Carolina
The South Carolina Supreme Court Building in Columbia, South Carolina. Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock.com

On March 22, 1786, the state senator from the town of Ninety-Six, John Lewis Gervais, proposed a bill to establish a new state capital, which was passed by the State Legislature. The name of the new city was the subject of intense debate. Washington was the preferred name by one of the senators, but Columbia prevailed in the State Senate by a vote of 11–7. A 400-block settlement along the river in a two-mile square was designed by the commissioners. Columbia received a town charter in 1805 and a city charter in 1854. It became the second planned city in the United States after Savannah and the first in South Carolina. Despite this, Columbia didn't have a single paved street until Main Street was completed in 1908.

The Population And Economy Of Columbia

Skyline of downtown Columbia, South Carolina, on Main Street
Skyline of downtown Columbia, South Carolina, on Main Street. 

As per the latest US Census, Columbia has a population of 136,632 residents, where 49.3% are females and 50.7% are males. The city's racial makeup is 48.9% white (non-Hispanic/Latino), 39.6% African-American or Black, and 5.8% Hispanic or Latino. The remaining population is distributed among Asians, Native Americans, and Other Races. English is spoken by 91.6% of the population. The rest speak Spanish (3.8%), Indo-European languages (2%), Asian and Pacific Islander languages (2.2%), and other foreign languages (0.4%). Only 34.4% of the population in Columbia are naturalized US citizens, and veterans make up 8% of Columbia's population, of which 82.4% are males and 17.6% are females. As per the same Census, 52.8% of the population are employed, with a poverty rate of 22.8%. The homeownership rate in Columbia is 47%, where the median gross rent cost is $956 per month, with a median household income of $47,416.

Attractions In And Around Columbia

Riverbanks Zoo And Botanical Garden

Fresh tilled soil and vegetable garden is guarded by scarecrow at the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden in Columbia, South Carolina
Fresh tilled soil and vegetable garden is guarded by scarecrow at the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden in Columbia, South Carolina. 

One of the top Columbia attractions is the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden. It first opened its doors back in 1974 and is located along the Lower Saluda River. The zoo covers 170 acres, is home to more than 2,000 different species of animals, and is especially well-liked by families. The Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden have twice been recognized with the Governor’s Cup Award as the best tourist destination in South Carolina. 

South Carolina State House

The exterior of the South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina
The exterior of the South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina. Editorial credit: Grindstone Media Group / Shutterstock.com

One of the top attractions in Columbia is the South Carolina State House. The State House stands as a testament to magnificent Greek Revival architecture. The State House features a copper dome that has been lavishly decorated.

Columbia Museum Of Art

The Boyd Plaza and Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, South Carolina
The Boyd Plaza and Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, South Carolina. Editorial credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

This museum is one of South Carolina's top 10 museums for modern art. With more than 25 top-notch galleries and an amazing array of permanent collections, more than 5,000 years of art history are on display here. It should come as no surprise that this museum is among the best of its kind in the Southeast.

Harbison State Forest

The Harbison State Forest is one of the best options for nature enthusiasts among tourist attractions and is only around nine miles from the center of Columbia. The forest park's 2,137 acres of property are bordered by the Broad River and are home to more than 30 miles of hiking and biking paths. 

Since Columbia is filled with many entertaining attractions, there is always something to do here. One should include this historic city on one's itinerary because it provides a range of entertainment, art, and educational opportunities. There is no way one wants to miss visiting the capital of South Carolina.

Share