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Walk. Along a footpath. Down a road. Beside a railway track. See your city then - and now - through their eyes and yours. Historic Columbia invites you to retrace our shared past through our series of online tours, self-guided walking tours and wayside exhibits.
Historic Columbia is always looking to update our tours with new images and stories - do you have something to share?
On the second Sunday of each month, join us for a guided walking tour of a different neighborhood in Columbia. See the schedule for Second Sunday Strolls.
Since its creation in 1786, Columbia has featured a large African American population whose labor, skills, and vision have been integral in the city’s physical, spiritual, and social evolution. During the course of four centuries the city’s black community transformed itself from that of a predominately enslaved population to a society whose members overcame the restrictions of Jim Crow and charted the course of the Civil Rights era. The story of this journey remains today within the home places, work places, and resting places of Columbia’s African American community. Download a pdf of the Home Places, Work Places, Resting Places: African American Heritage Sites Tour brochure.
Named for the military academy established here in 1842, Arsenal Hill rests within the northwest section of Columbia's original two-mile-by-two-mile city limits. Traditionally, this 30-block area has been bounded by Upper (today Elmwood Avenue), Assembly, Taylor, and Huger streets. As the highest point within the capital city's downtown, with impressive vistas to the south and west, Arsenal Hill became a desirable residential area for white elites during the antebellum era and then for middle- and working-class African Americans during the later 19th and 20th centuries. Combined with this residential development soon after came industrial, commercial, spiritual, educational, and governmental institutions, all of which have resulted in an eclectic mix of architecture and community histories. Start Tour
Drawing its name from the cash crop that South Carolina extensively farmed during the 19th and early 20th centuries, Cottontown is among a handful of early Columbia suburbs established over a century ago. Today, the narrow district is bounded on the west by North Main Street, the north by Grace Avenue, the east by Bull Street, and the south by Elmwood Avenue. In its earliest years, this area lay immediately outside the original city limits and housed significant numbers of cotton warehouses. For several decades, beginning in the late 19th century, Cottontown was renamed Bellevue, perhaps in the hope of drawing greater numbers of new residents. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the “Bellevue Historic District” in 1997, Cottontown features a remarkable concentration of residences representative of early 20th-century suburbanization. Start Tour
Lying south of Gervais, west of King, north of Santee, and east of Harden streets, Lower Waverly is considered by many residents as both an extension of Historic Waverly, which lies to its north, and a distinct community whose development followed that of its elder neighbor. Initially a racially mixed neighborhood until the mid-20th century when white citizens left for the suburbs, Lower Waverly became home to professional and working-class African Americans who established their own largely self-contained and self-sustained community. Following integration and urban renewal, the neighborhood's character changed as many businesses closed and scores of owner-occupied residences became rental properties. Featuring a blend of architectural styles and benefiting from amenities such as a city park and proximity to Five Points, Lower Waverly is a community whose citizens are committed to ensuring their future through an appreciation of their past. Start Tour
Columbia's "Old Shandon" neighborhood is comprised of most of the land that constituted the original suburb of Shandon, as it was laid out in 1893. In their 1895 map of Columbia and its suburbs, city engineers Niernsee & LaMotte indicated Shandon's original boundaries as Woodrow, Wheat, and Harden streets and Carolina Avenue (now Santee Avenue). Today's Old Shandon area covers those blocks of the suburb that lay northeast of Devine Street, in addition to the area southeast of Woodrow Street that became Maple Street. Start Tour
Bordered on the south by Rosewood, the north by Wales Garden and Wheeler Hill, the east by Shandon, and the west by the University of South Carolina athletic fields, the Hollywood-Rose Hill neighborhood today is noted for its architectural heritage, the diversity and involvement of its residents, and its proximity to downtown attractions and important services. Start Tour
Columbia’s “Heathwood” neighborhood derives its name from Moses Chappell Heath, who established this community east of the city in the early 20th century. Initially bounded to the north by Heatherwood, the east by Kawana, the south by Garners Ferry Road, and the west by Albion, today Heathwood is a name associated with land developed by both Heath, beginning in 1914, and his son-in-law Burwell Deas Manning, Sr., starting about 1940. Successive generations of original families remain in this tight-knit community of architecturally distinct residences with mature landscapes. Start Tour
11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
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