Florence, South Carolina
U.S. Post Office in Florence
|Nickname(s): Formal: "The Magic City," – Informal: "Flo-Town,"|
Location in Florence County in South Carolina
|Incorporated||December 24, 1890|
|• Mayor||Stephen Wukela, (D)|
|• City Manager||Drew Griffin|
|• City||17.7 sq mi (45.9 km2)|
|• Land||17.7 sq mi (45.9 km2)|
|• Water||0.04 sq mi (0.1 km2)|
|Elevation||138 ft (42 m)|
|• Density||2,091/sq mi (807.3/km2)|
|Time zone||EST (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||EDT (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||1222461|
Florence // is a city located in Florence County, South Carolina, United States. The city is the county seat of the Florence County and the hub of the Metropolitan Statistical Area. The area forms the core of the historical "Pee Dee" region of South Carolina, which includes the eight counties of northeastern South Carolina, along with sections of southeastern North Carolina. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population at 37,326, representing an increase of .7 percent.
In 1965, Florence was named an All-American City, presented by the National Civic League. The city was founded as a railroad hub and became the junction of three major railroad systems, including the Wilmington and Manchester, the Northeastern, and the Cheraw and Darlington. As of 2013[update], the city retains its status as a major hub, both for industry and infrastructure, while establishing itself as a regional center for business, medicine, culture and finance.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Climate
- 4 Infrastructure
- 5 Economy
- 6 Education
- 7 Healthcare
- 8 Transportation
- 9 Downtown revitalization
- 10 People and culture
- 11 Notable people
- 12 Sports
- 13 Media
- 14 Attractions
- 15 References
- 16 External links
The City of Florence was chartered in 1871 and incorporated in 1890:7 following the 1888 creation of Florence County. Prior to its charter, the city was part of one of the original townships laid out by the Lords Proprieters in 1719. The area was gradually settled through the late and early 20th century. Early settlers practiced subsistence farming and produced indigo, cotton, naval stores and timber, which were shipped down the Pee Dee River to the port at Georgetown and exported. In the mid-19th century two intersecting railroads were built, The Wilmington and Manchester, and the Northeastern. Gen. W. W. Harllee, the president of the W & M road built his home at the junction, and named the community Florence, after his daughter.
American Civil War
During the Civil War the town was an important supply and railroad repair center for the Confederacy, and the site of the Florence Stockade, which held between 12,000 and 18,000 Union prisoners of war. Over 2800 of the prisoners died of disease and the burial ground adjacent to the prison became the Florence National Cemetery after the war.
Early 20th century
After the war, Florence grew and prospered, using the railroad to supply its cotton, timber, and by the turn of the century, tobacco. During the 20th century the economy of Florence came to rely heavily on the healthcare industry, driven by two major hospitals and a number of pharmaceutical plants. Industry grew, especially after World War II, when Florence became increasingly known for textiles, pharmaceuticals, paper, manufacturing and in addition to agricultural products.
Florence is located in the coastal plain of South Carolina. The average elevation above sea level is around 140 ft (43 m). Jeffries Creek is a tributary of the Great Pee Dee River and is the main waterway that flows through the city of Florence. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 17.7 square miles (45.9 km²), of which 17.7 square miles (45.8 km²) are land and 0.04 square mile (0.1 km²) (0.17%) is water.
Autumn, winter and spring are mild, with occasional winter nights below freezing but rarely extended cold. Florence's summers can be very hot and humid. The city, like other cities of the southeast, is prone to inversions, which trap ozone and other pollutants over the area.
|Climate data for Florence, South Carolina|
|Record high °F (°C)||85
|Average high °F (°C)||56
|Average low °F (°C)||35
|Record low °F (°C)||0
|Precipitation inches (mm)||3.25
|Source: The Weather Channel|
The City of Florence has a council-manager form of government. City council members are elected every four years, without term limits. The council consists of seven members (three from districts and three at-large), as well as the mayor. The council responsible for making policies and enacting laws, rules and regulations in order to provide for future community and economic growth. The council additionally provides the necessary support for the orderly and efficient operation of city services. Florence holds elections for mayor every four years, alongside national Presidential elections. Mayors serve as a member of the city council, without term limits. The council appoints a city manager to serve as chief administrative officer to run the day-to-day business of the city and to serve at the pleasure of the council.
Current Members of Florence City Council:
|Council Member||District Represented|
|Stephen J Wukela, Mayor||At-Large|
|Teresa Myers-Ervin||District 1|
|Edward Robinson||District 2|
|Buddy Brand||District 3|
|Robby L Hill||At-Large|
During the latter part of the 20th century and early 21st century, Florence's economy was transformed from based largely on rail and farming into a diversified economy as the major commerce, finance, rail and trucking services, health care, and industrial center of the Eastern Carolinas. There are over 9 foreign affiliated companies and fourteen Fortune 500 companies in the region. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the Florence metropolitan statistical area as of 2009 was $6.8 billion, one of the highest among MSAs in the state.
Milken Institute 2008 Best Performing Cities Index showed the Florence MSA as the 5th largest gainer in their evaluation of the top 124 small metropolitan areas in the United States. The report ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth. The components include job, wage and salary and technology growth.
Florence has blossomed into a strong center for medical care, with three major medical providers McLeod Regional Medical Center, Carolinas Hospital System and HealthSouth. The growth of these providers has led to the transformation of the Florence skyline over the last 10 years, with development for demand with multi-story high-rises as well as community relation projects.
With such a strong medical community several companies have their global, continental, or national headquarters in Florence, including General Electric Medical Systems manufacturing operations, TRICARE, a supplemental insurance company that serves the US Armed Forces and its civilian employees, and Assurant, a real property and personal insurance company. The city also serves the pharmaceutical industry: with a Hoffman-La Roche pharmaceutical manufacturing facility and research and development center for IRIX Pharmaceuticals.
Florence also serves as the financial and service hub for the Eastern Carolinas, with many financial and professional management institutions invested heavily within the city. Companies with regional operations and headquarters to include, JP Morgan Chase, BB&T, Monster.com and Bank of America. Florence has operation headquarters for at&t and Duke Energy Inc.
Florence has benefited being located at the intersection of I-95 and I-20, approximately halfway between New York City and Miami, Florida. The city is located 80 miles (130 km) east from the state capital Columbia, 70 miles (110 km) west from Myrtle Beach, 120 miles (190 km) North of Charleston, and 110 miles (180 km) southeast of Charlotte, North Carolina. This has allowed Florence to remain competitive and bringing in and sustaining major manufacturers such as Honda, ESAB, DuPont-Teijin Films, QVC Distribution Center, and Heinz.
The Florence Public School District One is the governing body of the public schools in the area. As of 2010[update], the district has an active enrollment of 14,500 students, attending a total of 18 schools, including 12 elementary schools, three middle schools, and three high schools serving the City of Florence, Effingham and Quinby areas. The school system also supports an alternative school for middle and/or high school students, a vocational career center, and an adult learning center. The district and its schools have been recognized as being among the state's best with numerous awards, including the Palmetto's Finest Award.
Facilities of higher education in and around Florence include Francis Marion University, Florence–Darlington Technical College, Coker College, and Coastal Carolina University. Francis Marion University is a public university located in Florence, while Florence–Darlington Technical College, located in Florence, also operates satellite campuses in Hartsville, Lake City and Mullins. Coker College is located in Hartsville, while Coastal Carolina University is in Conway, South Carolina.
McLeod Regional Medical Center is a 453-bed non-profit medical center located on a 75-acre (300,000 m2) campus in downtown Florence. The hospital complex in downtown contains the Cardiovascular Institute, the Center for Advanced Surgery, the Cancer Center, and the only specialised paediatrics unit in the northeastern portion of South Carolina. It encompasses acute care facilities, such as McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, McLeod Medical Center in Dillon, McLeod Medical Center in Darlington, and also operates campuses all over the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.
Carolinas Hospital System, a leading regional healthcare facility with 420-beds, serves eight counties in northeastern South Carolina. For thousands of patients who use the facility every year, CHS makes a commitment to offering personalized, compassionate care, and to being at the forefront for innovative surgery and the latest in cutting-edge technology for diagnosis and treatment.
Regency Hospital opened its doors in Florence, in July 2001. It is a 40-bed Long Term Acute Care (LTAC) hospital located on the fourth and fifth floors of the Cedar Towers, at 121 Cedar Street. Regency, with its corporate office based in Alpharetta, Georgia, has 20 hospitals nationwide, and continues to aggressively grow throughout the country.
McLeod Regional Medical Center and Carolinas Hospital System are the first and third largest employers in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.
- I‑95 is a six-lane freeway that enters the city from the northeast, and exits southwest, establishing the city as the half-way point between Miami and New York.
- I‑20 is a four-lane interstate highway, which enters the city from the west and has a terminus in Florence as (David McLeod Blvd I‑20 Bus.). Also, this is a popular entrance to the area if coming into the city. Interstate 20 connects the city to Columbia, Atlanta, Dallas, and the American West.
- US 52 is a more direct path through Florence on a north to south route through the downtown area. The highway crosses Interstate 95 in the northwest of the downtown area, then merges with US 301 before it exits the city to the south, with a junction with SC 51 to Charleston, South Carolina
- US 76 enters the city from west at Interstate 95, then merges with David McLeod Blvd at Palmetto Street, and finally exits east of the city at the junction with Freedom Blvd. The road runs from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Wilmington, North Carolina.
- US 301 offers another north to south route into Florence. Entering the city merged with US 52 as South Irby Street, it then forms a crescent-shaped bypass around the downtown area as Freedom Boulevard. US 301 then merges with US 76 east of downtown Florence, and exits as such.
The Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority (PDRTA), is the principal agency responsible for operating mass transit in greater Florencea area including Darlington, Marion, Chesterfield, Dillon, and the Lake City area, PDRTA also operates routes to Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Sumter.
PDRTA operates express shuttles, and bus service serving Florence and its immediate surrounds areas. The authority was established in June1974 which is South Carolina’s Oldest and Largest RTA. PDRTA began operations serving the six-county Pee Dee region of Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Marion, and Marlboro Counties. The PDRTA has provided transportation for more than 15 million passengers and daily PDRTA transports approximately 2,457 people. PDRTA operates services with 165 vehicles ranging in size from transit, intercity buses, and trolleys to lift-equipped vans and goshens.
The city and its surroundings are served by Florence Regional Airport (IATA:FLO; ICAO:KFLO), which is located 2 miles (3.2 km) east of downtown Florence on US 76. The airport itself is serviced by US Airways Express and is the second busiest airport in the region behind Myrtle Beach International Airport.It Is located an hour West of Myrtle Beach 
Greyhound Lines and Southeastern Stages operates a station on Irby Street, in the southern part of downtown, providing Florence with intercity bus transportation.
The city of Florence has recently[when?] undertaken a massive redevelopment of Downtown Florence. The city has completed several notable projects and has several more planned. The Downtown Redevelopment District was originally a seventy square block area encompassing some 500 acres (2.0 km2) in the heart of the City of Florence, but now has added over 100 more acres of the Timrod Park area with its historic homes. The redevelopment of Florence has even created a new branding effort, to include new city department logos (not to be confused with the city seal) way finding signs and repainting of water towers.
The historic downtown district running from the central business district toward the McLeod Medical Center, features a number of historic buildings that have been rehabilitated. The redevelopment started with the $18 million Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation Library, and today now has the new Florence Little Theater, some 60 new apartments and the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center which opened in September 2011, as well the new Florence Museum Of Art, Science & History which opened October 11, 2014. New office space has emerged from once abandoned buildings, and a police substation was added on once crime ridden Dargan Street.
Special efforts are being aimed at the downtown area, which was once the center of the city's activity but remains dormant after retailers and shoppers left for suburban malls. The goal is to re-establish Evans as a vibrant commercial and residential corridor, and five blocks of Evans Street will be streetscaped.
People and culture
As of the census of 2000, there were 30,248 people, 11,925 households, and 7,882 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,709.4 people per square mile (659.8/km²). There were 13,090 housing units at an average density of 739.7 per square mile (285.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 50.0% White, 46.0% Black or African- American, 0.18% Native American, 1.16% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.21% from other races, and 0.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.76% of the population.
There were 11,925 households out of which 30.2% had children living with them, 41.9% were married couples living together, 20.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 82.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $35,388, and the median income for a family was $42,250. Males had a median income of $35,633 versus $23,589 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,336. 19.3% of the population and 15.3% of families were below the poverty line. 28.2% of those under the and 15.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
Florence is the central city of a metropolitan area with a total population of 205,566 (2010 US census), including the entire populations of Florence and Darlington counties. However, in the more detailed 2000 Census data, only about 54% of this metro was urbanized, consisting of the urban areas Florence (2000 pop.: 67,314), Hartsville (14,907), Darlington (12,066), and Lake City (8,728). The remainder of the Florence metro is considered rural.
Like other midsize cities in the southern US, Florence's population is largely dominated by Protestantism, the largest being the Southern Baptists, followed by the Methodists. The rest of the population are distributed among other Protestant denominations as well as the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches. The Greek Orthodox Church holds a large Greek Festival annually in September. There are two Reform Judaism synagogues in Florence Beth Israel Congregation. It is also the home of the Florence Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). There is also a small Hindu Temple.
In 2006 FBI crime statistics ranked Florence fifth in the nation in per capita violent crimes amongst 350 metropolitan statistical areas. The city also ranked fifth in the nation in 2005 and first among comparable American cities. At the time, Florence police chief Anson Shells attributed much of the violence to gang activity, and said that "[e]very city, especially metro areas, suffer from violent crime. I've never considered the Florence area to be a particularly violent area. I consider this to be a very safe area." In his 2012 state of the city address, Florence mayor Stephen Wukela stated that in November 2008 the crime rate in the city "was one of the highest in the country."
- Blackie Collins – author and knife maker
- William Johnson – artist
- Philip B. Meggs – author and historian
- Padgett Powell – author
- Henry Timrod – so-called "poet laureate of the confederacy"
- Mark L. Walberg – television host
- Lilian Garcia – WWE ring announcer
- Ben Ingram — eight-time Jeopardy! champion.
- Through the Eyes of the Dead – band
- Graves of Valor – band
- The Independents – band
- Trey Lorenz – musician
- Hilary Hahn – violinist
- Sequoyah Prep School - band
- Alvin Greene – politician
- Buddy Baker – NASCAR racecar driver
- Ron Barfield, Jr. – NASCAR racecar driver
- Harry Carson – professional football player (NFL)
- Jim David – professional football player (NFL)
- Fisher DeBerry – football coach
- Darian Durant – professional football player (CFL)
- Justin Durant – professional football player (NFL)
- Reggie Sanders - professional baseball player (MLB)
- Jordan Lyles – professional baseball player (MLB)
- Clayton Holmes– professional football player (NFL)
- Malliciah Goodman - professional football player (NFL)
- Lawrence Timmons – professional football player (NFL)
- Ron Turner – swimming coach
- Cale Yarborough – NASCAR racecar driver
Baseball has a long history in Florence, dating back to 1920s when the Florence Swamp Foxes were founded. The Toronto Blue Jays had a minor league team that played in Florence from 1981 to 1986. Major league players Pat Borders, Jimmy Key, Cecil Fielder and Fred McGriff made stops in Florence during their minor league careers. Florence's Post 1 American Legion baseball team is one of the longest tenured teams in the state, beginning in 1932. Drawing the best high school talent from all over the Pee Dee area each summer, Post 1 has had over 30 players move on the professional ranks, including Reggie Sanders. They have won 28 league championships and two state titles. They were the host site of the 2008 American Legion State Tournament. In 2012, Post 1 won the South Carolina state tournament and the Southeast Regional and participated in the American Legion World Series in Shelby, North Carolina.
As of 1998[update], Florence is home to the Coastal Plain League Florence Red Wolves summer baseball team. Founded in 1998, team brings in players from collegiate sports conferences, including the Southeastern Conference and the Atlantic Coast Conference. The team hosted the 2004 All-Star game and Home Run Derby. In 2007, they hosted the Petitt Cup Tournament at their home field.
The Florence Red Wolves play at the 3,500-seat Sparrow Stadium at Francis Marion University. The stadium is also home to the Florence–Darlington Technical College. Post 1 plays its home games at Legion Stadium, adjacent to Memorial Stadium, where Florence's 3 public high schools play their home football games.
Until 2009, Florence was home to the American Indoor Football league's Florence Phantoms, which debuted in the league in 2006. The Phantoms played in the Florence Civic Center. Florence Memorial Stadium is a 7,000 seat football stadium 5 miles (8.0 km) to the east of the city. It is the home stadium for West Florence, Wilson, and South Florence high schools.
Florence was also home to the Southern Professional Hockey League's now-Twin City Cyclones, who played from 2005 to 2007. This team was part of a two event package in 2004 to replace the now defunct Pee Dee Pride (to be the Myrtle Beach Thunderboltz) from the ECHL. The building was also the home of the South Carolina Fire Ants of Major League Roller Hockey in 1998.
Darlington Raceway is officially in the Florence market, ten miles (16 km) to the west of the city, and was the home of the fourth leg of NASCAR's "Grand Slam," the Southern 500, until the Ferko lawsuit eliminated the race in favor of a second race at Texas Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Nationwide Series Race and Sprint Cup Series Southern 500 are held on Mother's Day weekend each year.
Florence and Grand Strand share a common defined market by Nielsen Media Research in Horry, Marion, Dillon, Darlington, Marlboro, Scotland, Robeson, and Florence counties. The Florence/Myrtle Beach Market is the 103rd largest market in the USA as defined by Nielsen Media Research. Florence, along with The Pee Dee Region, makes up the 217th largest radio market in the United States.
The Florence Morning News is the largest daily paper published in the Pee Dee, with a readership base extending from Cheraw, South Carolina, Marion South Carolina, Darlington, South Carolina to Williamsburg, South Carolina. The paper has been in existence since 1922 and is published by BH Media Group, a Berkshire Hathaway Company. The area is also served by several weekly papers, including The News Journal and the Community Times.
- Florence Civic Center
- Darlington Raceway
- Florence National Cemetery
- Florence Public Library
- Florence Regional Airport
- Florence Stockade
- War Between the States Museum
The city of Florence is a retail hub of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. Shoppers come from not only Florence and Darlington counties but from all over the Pee Dee region to Florence for a wider range of shopping and dining that includes many of the largest and well known regional and national chains.
Magnolia Mall, a regional mall is the largest shopping center in the area between Columbia and Myrtle Beach. It contains over 600,000 sq. ft with over 70 stores including anchors Belk, JC Penney, Sears, Dick's Sporting Goods, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble. Other retailers include: Aéropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Bath & Body Works, Charlotte Russe, The Children's Place, Express, Justice, Lane Bryant, New York & Company, Victoria's Secret. There are 7 food court options and a Ruby Tuesday attached to the mall. Outparcels on the mall property include Buffalo Wild Wings, Mellow Mushroom, Outback Steakhouse, IHOP, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Chuck E. Cheese's. Magnolia Mall was opened in 1979 and redeveloped in 2008. The mall is located near the junction of I-95 and I-20 on David H. McLeod Blvd.
Adjacent to Magnolia Mall is Commons at Magnolia which includes Target, David's Bridal, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Kirkland's and PetSmart. Across David H. McLeod Blvd. is The Plaza at Magnolia which includes Kohl's, The Home Depot, Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, and Chili's.
Florence Mall is the other major shopping center in the city of Florence. Florence Mall was developed as an open air mall in the 1960s and now looks more like a shopping plaza. It contains 340,506 sq. ft. Retailers include: Stein Mart, Piggly Wiggly, Talbots, TJ Maxx, Shoe Carnival, Ross, etc. Food options include: Red Bone Alley, Moe's Southwest Grill, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Cici's Pizza, Hardee's, Schlotzsky's Deli, and Cold Stone Creamery. In addition, Florence has two Walmart Supercenters, a Sam's Club, a Kmart, and two Lowe's among other retailers. Other shopping plazas/strip malls, craft/hobby stores, antique stores and mom and pop stores are spread throughout the city.
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