Rock Hill, South Carolina
Rock Hill, South Carolina
|City of Rock Hill|
The Gateway to South Carolina; Football City USA
|• Mayor||John Gettys|
|• City||39.14 sq mi (101.38 km2)|
|• Land||38.99 sq mi (100.97 km2)|
|• Water||0.16 sq mi (0.41 km2) 0.4%|
|Elevation||676 ft (206 m)|
|• Density||1,908/sq mi (736.6/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (Eastern)|
29730 29731 29732 29733 29734
|Area code(s)||803, 839|
|GNIS feature ID||1250417|
Rock Hill is the largest city in York County, South Carolina, United States, and the fifth-largest city in the state. It is also the fourth-largest city of the Charlotte metropolitan area, behind Charlotte, Concord, and Gastonia (all located in North Carolina, unlike Rock Hill). As of the 2020 Census, the population was 74,372.
Rock Hill offers scenic riverfront views along the Catawba River and is home to numerous nature trails, restaurants, and thirty-one parks which are used for both national and local events. Its historic downtown consist of twelve contiguous buildings built as early as 1840 offering dining and retail options. The city is also home to three colleges, including Winthrop University, a public liberal arts university founded in 1886 which enrolls nearly 6,000 students annually.
Although some European settlers had already arrived in the Rock Hill area in the 1830s and 1840s, Rock Hill did not become an actual town until the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad Company made the decision to send a rail line through the area. Originally, the railroad had hoped to build a station in the nearby village of Ebenezerville which was squarely between Charlotte, North Carolina and Columbia, South Carolina. When approached, however, the locals in Ebenezerville refused to have the railroad run through their village since they considered it dirty and noisy. Instead, engineers and surveyors decided to run the line two miles away by a local landmark. According to some, the engineers marked the spot on the map and named it "rocky hill.": 26
Some of Rock Hill's early founding families—the White family, the Black family, and the Moores—believed that having a rail depot so close to them would be advantageous, so they decided to give the Columbia and Charlotte Railroad the right of way through their properties. As they were the three largest landowners in the area, this settled the matter. George Pendleton White contracted with the railroad to build a section of the line. Construction began in 1848. The first passenger train arrived on March 23, 1852. A few weeks later, on April 17, 1852, the first Rock Hill Post Office opened.: 26–28
Now that Rock Hill had a name, a railroad station, and a post office, it began to draw more settlers to the area. Captain J. H. McGinnis built a small general store near the station in 1849 or 1850 to provide supplies for the construction and railroad workers.: 27–28 Templeton Black, who had leased the land to McGinnis, decided to devote some of his other adjacent land to building a larger town. He hired a local surveyor, Squire John Roddey, to organize a main street. Black sold his first plot of land along that street to Ira Ferguson for $125 a few weeks before the post office opened; other businessmen bought plots quickly after that.: 28
Rock Hill Academy, the first school in Rock Hill, opened in September 1854. Despite its official name, most residents referred to it as the Pine Grove Academy after the pine grove it was located in. Ann Hutchinson White, wife of George White, donated the land to the school after her husband's death. The school had 60 male pupils in 1856; a school for girls was later opened in the same place.: 28
During the American Civil War
Shortly before the American Civil War began, a census had been taken of the population in York County where Rock Hill is located. Half of the district's 21,800 residents were slaves, integral to local cotton production. The 4,379 white males in the county formed fourteen infantry companies; some of the men joined cavalry or artillery units instead. By the end of the war, 805 of these men had died, and hundreds more were wounded. Men from Rock Hill and York County were involved in many of the major Civil War battles.: 35
Due to its position on the railroad, Rock Hill became a transfer point for Confederate soldiers and supplies moving to and from the front. Since there was no local hospital, townspeople nursed sick and wounded soldiers in their homes. Refugees fleeing the coastal blockade or General Sherman's troops, also came to Rock Hill.: 39
Beginning in the spring of 1862, local area farmers switched from cotton to corn in order to produce more food.: 39 Records show that prices in Rock Hill changed frequently during the war, reflecting both shortages and the inflation of the Confederate paper money.: 41
Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard set up a temporary headquarters in Rock Hill on February 21, 1865.: 41 He ordered the roads to Charlotte blocked to try to prevent General Sherman from reaching the city; Sherman ultimately went in a different direction.
When General Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House, it was actually a future Rock Hill resident who was responsible for waving the white flag. Captain Robert Moorman Sims, a farmer from Lancaster County, was sent by General James Longstreet to inform Union troops that the Confederate troops wanted a truce.: 42
The Civil War changed the social, economic, and political situation in Rock Hill tremendously, as it did elsewhere in the South. Rock Hill grew as a town, taking in war refugees, widows and their families, and the return of the men who had left to fight in the war.: 58 The formerly wealthy elite sold off their land to stay afloat financially. Town life would begin to become more important than rural life.
Most of the merchants in Rock Hill around 1870 were former Confederate soldiers; many were entrepreneurs who were new to town, trying to start over.: 59 In 1870, even the largest stores in Rock Hill were only one story tall, and there were no sidewalks along the roads. The first drug store in Rock Hill opened in the 1870s.: 61 A locally contentious bordello was built in 1881 and introduced the town's first paved sidewalk.: 61
The town was not officially incorporated until 1870, on the third try.
The first attempt to get Rock Hill incorporated was made in 1855. A petition, signed by major landholders and businessmen from the Rock Hill area, was presented to the General Assembly on October 19, 1855.: 29 No action on the matter was taken by the General Assembly.
The second attempt was in 1868. In their petition, the townspeople claimed that Rock Hill had over 300 residents, "eleven stores, two churches, two bars, two hotels, two carriage shops, three blacksmith shops, three shoe shops, one tannery, one cabinet shop, and elementary schools for white girls and boys." The petition was signed by 48 men, most relative newcomers to Rock Hill, with only a few members of the old, established, landed families. The larger landholders opposed incorporation because of the taxes it would bring. They filed a counter-proposal which claimed that there were only 100 residents, many of them temporary.: 63 The situation was a strong indication of the changes Rock Hill experienced as it transitioned from mostly farms to a business community. Ultimately, the state legislature did not act on either petition and Rock Hill was still not incorporated.
The third, successful petition was made in 1869, only one year after 1868's failed petition. This time there were 57 signers in favor of incorporation, with only seven opponents. The opponents collectively owned 80% of the land that would be incorporated into Rock Hill if the petition was successful. They were unsuccessful at preventing incorporation this time; Rock Hill was officially incorporated on February 26, 1870.: 64
Civil rights movement
Rock Hill was the setting for two significant events in the civil rights movement. In February 1961, nine African-American men went to jail at the York County prison farm after staging a sit-in at a segregated McCrory's lunch counter in downtown Rock Hill. The current location is now known as "Kounter" which has the names of the activists engraved. Their offense was reported to be "refusing to stop singing hymns during their morning devotions." The event gained nationwide attention as the men followed an untried strategy called "jail, no bail." Rejecting bail was a way to lessen the huge financial burden which civil rights groups were facing as the sit-in movement spread across the South. As their actions gained widespread national news coverage, the tactic was adopted by other civil rights groups. The men became known as the Friendship Nine because eight of the nine men were students at Rock Hill's Friendship Junior College.
Later in 1961, Rock Hill was the first stop in the Deep South for a group of 13 Freedom Riders, who boarded buses in Washington, DC, and headed South to test the 1960 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court outlawing racial segregation in all interstate public facilities. When the civil rights leader John Lewis and another black man stepped off the bus at Rock Hill, they were beaten by a white mob that was uncontrolled by police. The event drew national attention.
In 2002, Lewis, by then a US Congressman from Georgia, returned to Rock Hill, where he had been invited as a speaker at Winthrop University and was given the key to the city. On January 21, 2008, Rep. Lewis returned to Rock Hill again and spoke at the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance. Mayor Doug Echols officially apologized to him on the city's behalf for the Freedom Riders' treatment in the city.
Twentieth century to present
Rock Hill experienced steady growth in the twentieth century. The city boundary expanded far beyond its original limits. Four unincorporated communities of York County were annexed into the city including Boyd Hill in the late 1940s, Ebenezer and Mexico in the 1960s, and Oakdale in the 1980s.
Rock Hill hosted the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships at the Rock Hill BMX Supercross Track in Riverwalk with an estimated direct economic impact of $19.2 million.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 43.16 square miles (111.8 km2), of which 43.0 square miles (111 km2) is land and 0.16 square miles (0.41 km2) (0.4%) is water.
Rock Hill is located along the Catawba River in the north-central section of the Piedmont of South Carolina, south of the city of Charlotte in North Carolina. The city sits at an elevation of around 676 feet (206 m) above sea level. It is located approximately 150 miles (240 km) from the Atlantic Ocean and 75 miles (121 km) from the Blue Ridge Mountains. The northern limits of the city reside along Lake Wylie, a large man-made reservoir.
Rock Hill consists of numerous neighborhoods, some of which were independent towns and communities at one time that were later annexed into Rock Hill city limits.
- Downtown, the city's central business district that is home to twelve contiguous buildings built as early as 1870. It is also home to the city's government offices and numerous restaurants.
- Ebenezer, located north of downtown along Ebenezer Road. This area is home to Piedmont Medical Center as well as both newly developed subdivisions and historic neighborhoods.
- Oakdale, southern city limits located south of downtown and bordered by S.C. Highway 901 to the north and east. The area is home to South Pointe High School and the Rock Hill Country Club golf course.
- Newport, while still considered to be a census-designated place, has been mostly annexed into the city. This fast-growing area with numerous subdivisions is home to the Rock Hill Aquatic Center and located northwest of Ebenezer along S.C. Highway 161.
- Boyd Hill, historic neighborhood bordered by downtown to the south, Ebenezer to the north and S.C. Highway 901 to the west. While the neighborhood is often considered a low-income portion of the city, it is also home to the city's municipal football and soccer stadium.
Four notable major natural disasters have struck the city since 1926.
1926 Rock Hill tornado
On November 26, 1926, a destructive tornado struck downtown Rock Hill. It was the day after Thanksgiving, late in the season for such a violent storm. The "black as ink twister" took less than 10 minutes to change the face of the business section. The storm touched down in western York County, and entered Rock Hill from the west. Once in the town, the twister cut a path about three blocks wide, leaving 60 homes heavily damaged, the hospital roof removed, and cars flipped or crushed. By the end, the total damage for the whole town was $150,000. The tornado was responsible for one death and 12 injuries within Rock Hill.
Hurricane Hugo struck the city on the morning of September 22, 1989. The storm ripped through the city with sustained winds over 90 MPH, toppling massive oak and pine trees. Schools were closed for weeks because of widespread damage to roads and facilities. The total damage cost for the entire state of South Carolina was around $4.2 billion. The storm was a category 3 when it entered the county and was a category 2 as it left the county.
The "Great Carolina Snowstorm" of 2004
A complex series of low pressure systems moved across South Carolina from February 25–27 of 2004. Starting as a mix of snow and sleet, the storm became all snow as the low pulled off the Carolina coast. Cold arctic air settled over the Carolinas and dumped 22 inches of snow, with lightning, gusty winds, and some areas getting up to 28 inches. Sustained winds over 40 MPH across Rock Hill knocked out power, resulting in schools' closing for a week. It was the worst overall blizzard to hit the area.
2011 Rock Hill Tornado
During the Tornado outbreak of November 14–16, 2011, a deadly EF-2 tornado struck about 8 miles south and 5 miles southwest of Rock Hill that travelled for 2 miles after touchdown. The storm, which left a 200 yard wide path of destruction and had wind speeds of up to 135 mph, left 3 people dead, caused 5 injuries, and 7-8 damaged homes. This event caused the first ever tornado related deaths to be recorded in York Country history.
Rock Hill has a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons, characterized by hot humid summers and cool dry winters. The city itself is part of the USDA hardiness zone 7b with yearly minimum low temperature extremes between 5 °F (−15 °C) and 10 °F (−12 °C), typically occurring in the month of January. Precipitation does not vary greatly between seasons, but is highly dependent on moisture supplied from the Gulf of Mexico. July is the hottest month, with an average high temperature of 91 °F (33 °C) and an average low temperature of 71 °F (22 °C). The coldest month of the year is January, when the average high temperature is 51 °F (11 °C) and the average low temperature is 31 °F (−1 °C). The warmest temperature ever recorded in the city was 106 °F (41 °C) in 1983 and tied in 2007. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the city was −4 °F (−20 °C) in 1985.
|Climate data for Rock Hill, South Carolina (Winthrop University) 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1899–present|
|Record high °F (°C)||80
|Average high °F (°C)||53.5
|Daily mean °F (°C)||43.0
|Average low °F (°C)||32.6
|Record low °F (°C)||−4
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.58
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||9.9||9.4||10.1||8.7||8.4||9.3||9.1||9.2||6.6||6.8||7.7||9.2||104.4|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
|Black or African American (non-Hispanic)||28,580||38.43%|
|Hispanic or Latino||5,757||7.74%|
As of the 2020 United States census, there were 74,372 people, 32,341 households, and 18,379 families residing in the city.
As of the 2010 census, there were 66,154 people and 16,059 families residing in the city. The population density was 619.2 people per square kilometre (2,983.5/sq mi). There were 29,159 housing units at an average density of 252.4 per square kilometre (653.8/sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was 54.6% White, 38.3% Black, 1.7% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.7% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.7% of the population.
There were 25,966 households, out of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 18.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.2% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.4% under the age of 18, 14.7% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.3 males.
|Amida Industries, INC.|
|City of Rock Hill|
|Cytec Carbon Filters, LLC.|
|Langer Transport Corporation|
|Rock Hill Schools|
Rock Hill's economy was once dominated by the textile industry, and the restructuring of that industry in moving jobs overseas caused a decline in the local economy at one time. Over the past decade, Rock Hill has transitioned to a relatively strong manufacturing workforce.
The median income for a household in the city was $37,336, and the median income for a family was $45,697. Males had a median income of $32,156 versus $24,181 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,929. About 9.7% of families and 14.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.2% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over. The unemployment rate of the city was 8.7 percent and 11,874 of the 71,459 residents lived and worked in the city with a daytime population change of +5,208 as of March 2011. The city is transitioning to a retail and manufacturing economy, and has been working to attract national and global companies.
Rock Hill Galleria is a regional shopping mall.
Arts and culture
- Come See Me Festival each spring.
- annual Red, White, and Boom Festival.
- Blues and Jazz Festival.
- Underexposed Film Festival YC.
- Winter festival called ChristmasVille Rock Hill.
- Museum of York County is a natural history museum.
- Comporium Telephone Museum features the history of technology in Rock Hill.
- Rock Hill Fire Museum features the history of the Rock Hill Fire Department.
- Center for the Arts is an art museum.
- Tom S Gettys Art Center features local art
- Main Street Children's Museum features children's learning and educational activities.
- White Home is a museum.
Four civitas and the gateway
Four civitas statues were installed in 1991. Each holds a disc that symbolizes the four features of the city's economy: gears of industry, flames of knowledge, stars of inspiration, and bolts of energy. The ribbons in the civitates' clothing and hair transform into wings, inferring the textile industry as the foundation of the city's growth. The 22-foot-tall (6.7 m) Civitas statues were made of bronze by sculptor Audrey Flack. In 1992, a fifth civitas statue by Flack was placed at City Hall. The 60-foot-tall (18 m) columns that form the gateway came an Egyptian Revival Masonic Temple in Charlotte, North Carolina. They were gifted to the city by the First Union Corporation.
Rock Hill hosts two national championships, the United States Disc Golf Championship at Winthrop University, and the US Youth Soccer National Championships at Manchester Meadows Soccer Complex.
Parks and recreation
- Cherry Park, 70-acre (28 ha) park with a 1.5 mi (2.4 km) trail and athletic fields.
- Ebenezer Park, beachfront park located along Lake Wylie with swimming and picnic areas.
- Glencairn Garden, quaint botanical garden featuring a variety of blooming flowers and trees.
- Manchester Meadows, large park with covered picnic areas and soccer fields.
- Riverwalk and Rock Hill Outdoor Center, 1,000-acre (400 ha) mixed-use community park with kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking. The Giordana Velodrome and Rock Hill BMX Supercross track are located here.
- Westminster Park, riverside park with access to Catawba River.
The city operates under a Council-Manager form of government. The governing body is composed of a mayor and six members. The mayor is determined through a nonpartisan, at-large election for a four-year term of office while council members are chosen through nonpartisan, single-member district elections. Council members are elected to staggered four-year terms of office. The city council is a legislative body, establishing policies with recommendations from the city administrator. The city manager acts as the chief administrator of the council's policies implemented through the administrative control of city departments given to him by ordinance. John Gettys is mayor; his term began January 2018.
Public education in Rock Hill is administered by York County School District 3. The district operates twenty-seven schools in the city, including nineteen elementary schools, five middle schools, and three high schools. The district has a student enrollment of around 25,000.
- Rock Hill High School (first built high school in the city)
- Northwestern (built at the time of school integration in 1970, replacing all-black Emmett Scott High School)
- South Pointe (the newest high school in the city)
- Saluda Trail Middle School
- Castle Heights Middle School
- Sullivan Middle School
- Rawlinson Road Middle School
- Dutchman Creek Middle School
- Westminster Catawba Christian School
A variety of religious schools serve the city of Rock Hill, including St. Anne's Catholic School and Westminster Catawba. The city is also home to two Charter schools: York Preparatory Academy, and Legion Collegiate Academy.
There are three colleges in Rock Hill.
The most prominent institution is Winthrop University, founded in 1886 as a women's college. It is a thriving, public, co-ed four-year comprehensive university with an annual enrollment of about 6,000 students.
Clinton College is a historically black founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1894. Initially a two-year institution, the liberal arts college added four-year degree programs in 2013 in addition to the associate degree programs.
York Technical College opened in Rock Hill in 1964. This two-year community college offers associate degrees and provides continuing education for approximately 9,000 area residents annually and is growing each year.
Rock Hill is home to a daily newspaper, The Herald, which covers the area. Magazines include Rock Hill Magazine and YC (York County) Magazine (which covers the entire county).
OTS Media Group owns and operates WRHI (News/Sports, 100.1 FM and 1340 AM), WRHM-FM (Country/Sports FM 107.1) and WRHM-FM HD2/W281BE/W232AX (Contemporary Christian, FM 94.3 & 104.1). There are also WAVO (Religious, 1150 AM), NPR affiliate WNSC-FM (88.9 FM), Southside Baptist Church of Rock Hill Christian broadcast station, WRHJ-LP (93.1 FM) and York Technical College campus radio station WYTX-LP (98.5.FM) .
Rock Hill has several television stations: PBS affiliate WNSC-TV (Channel 30), CN2, a daily cable news program produced by Comporium Communications for York, Chester, and Lancaster counties; MyNetworkTV station WMYT-TV Channel 55, is licensed to Rock Hill, but serves the entire Charlotte market, while their studios are shared with sister station WJZY-TV in unincorporated Mecklenburg County, NC.
From locations across the country, Rock Hill is most easily accessible by interstate highway.
Rock Hill has two local airports. The Rock Hill/York County Airport is a municipal airport for the city of Rock Hill and serves non-commercial flights. The airport is located minutes from Rock Hill's Central business district. Also called Bryant Field, it was named for Robert E. Bryant, an aviator with two international records and an inductee in the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame (The name is no longer used for the airport because of confusion with Bryant Field (airport)). It is owned and operated by the City of Rock Hill, but York County is also represented on the Airport Commission.
Rock Hill has one regional transit system, The Charlotte Area Transit System that offers express bus service from downtown Rock Hill to Uptown Charlotte.
- 82X Downtown Rock Hill to Manchester Village to Uptown Charlotte.
Rock Hill currently offers My Ride, an electric bus transit service
Rock Hill is considered to be a bicycle-friendly town with numerous bike routes located throughout the city. There are also designated bike lanes located along major roads such as Eden Terrace and Oakland Avenue.
- Rock Hill Fire Department is a paid department made of two divisions and six fire stations located within the city.
- Rock Hill Police Department is the city's police force, comprising five divisions and nine specialized units.
- Piedmont Medical Center is an acute care hospital with a Level III trauma center, located in Rock Hill.
- Robert O'Neil Bristow, award winning American novelist
- Patrick Caddell served in the Jimmy Carter administration, and was a public opinion pollster and a political consultant was born and raised in Rock Hill
- Lauren Cholewinski, Olympic speedskater
- Matt Christopher, children's sports author
- Lafayette Currence, baseball player
- Ed Currie, grew some of the world's hottest peppers, such as the Carolina Reaper and Pepper X
- Emery, nationally known emo band
- William G. Enloe, mayor of Raleigh, North Carolina
- DJ Felli Fel, charted on the Hot 100 with "Get Buck in Here" 2007
- Vernon Grant, commercial artist and creator of the Snap, Crackle and Pop characters for Kellogg's Rice Krispies cereal
- Jim Hoagland, journalist and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner
- Ironing Board Sam, blues keyboardist
- Cecil Ivory, Presbyterian minister and civil rights leader who lead desegregation protests in Rock Hill
- Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019
- Edmund Lewandowski, Precisionist movement artist, chairman of the art department at Winthrop, from 1973 to 1984
- William Ivey Long, Tony Award-winning costume designer
- Ralph Norman, U.S. Representative
- Jim Ray, Major League Baseball pitcher
- Leon Rippy, actor in The Patriot
- Justin Worley, former QB for the University of Tennessee
National Football League players
- Phillip Adams
- Jeff Burris – former NFL player currently the cornerbacks coach at Louisiana Tech
- Jadeveon Clowney – currently an outside linebacker for the Cleveland Browns
- Gerald Dixon – former NFL linebacker for multiple teams
- Stephon Gilmore – 2019 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year, currently a cornerback for the Indianapolis Colts
- Tori Gurley – former football player in the NFL and CFL
- Jonathan Hefney – former football player in the NFL and CFL
- DeVonte Holloman - former football player in the NFL
- Chris Hope – former NFL player and pro bowler
- Johnathan Joseph – former NFL cornerback
- Derion Kendrick – currently a cornerback for the Los Angeles Rams
- Spencer Lanning – former punter in the NFL
- Robert Massey – former NFL cornerback for multiple teams
- Jonathan Meeks – NFL safety that is currently a free agent
- Cordarrelle Patterson – current wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons
- Derek Ross – former cornerback for multiple teams in the NFL
- Mason Rudolph – currently a quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers
- Rick Sanford – former defensive back for the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks
- Jaleel Scott – currently a free agent wide receiver
- Ko Simpson – former safety in the NFL
- Benjamin Watson – former tight end for the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints
In popular culture
- The Patriot (2000 film), rural Rock Hill, starring Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger
- Black Rainbow
- The Rage: Carrie 2
- Asylum (2008 film), at Winthrop University
- Walker Payne 2006
- Gospel Hill 2008
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