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Aiken, South Carolina facts for kids

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Aiken County Courthouse
Aiken County Courthouse
The City of Trees
Location of Aiken, South Carolina
Location of Aiken, South Carolina
Aiken, South Carolina is located in South Carolina
Aiken, South Carolina
Aiken, South Carolina
Location in South Carolina
Aiken, South Carolina is located in the United States
Aiken, South Carolina
Aiken, South Carolina
Location in the United States
Aiken, South Carolina is located in North America
Aiken, South Carolina
Aiken, South Carolina
Location in North America
Country United States
State  South Carolina
County Aiken
Incorporated 1835
 • Type Council-manager
 • Total 21.04 sq mi (54.49 km2)
 • Land 20.91 sq mi (54.15 km2)
 • Water 0.13 sq mi (0.34 km2)
515 ft (157 m)
 • Total 29,566
 • Estimate 
 • Density 1,476.42/sq mi (570.06/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
29801-29805, 29808
Area codes 803, 839
FIPS code 45-00550
GNIS feature ID 1244853
The Old Aiken Post Office in downtown Aiken

Aiken is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Aiken County, in western South Carolina, United States. , it is one of the two largest cities of the Central Savannah River Area. Founded in 1835, Aiken was named after William Aiken, the president of the South Carolina Railroad. It became part of Aiken County when the county was formed in 1871 from parts of Orangeburg, Lexington, Edgefield, and Barnwell counties.

Aiken is home to the University of South Carolina Aiken. According to 2019 U.S. Census estimates, its population was 30,869. The National Civic League gave Aiken the All-America City Award in 1997. Aiken was also named "best small town of the South" by Southern Living.

Geography and climate

Aiken is located at 33°32′58″N 81°43′14″W / 33.54944°N 81.72056°W / 33.54944; -81.72056 (33.549397, -81.720689), near the center of Aiken County. It is 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Augusta, Georgia, along U.S. Route 1 and 78. Interstate 20 passes 6 miles (10 km) to the north of the city, with access via South Carolina Highway 19 (Exit 18) and US 1 (Exit 22).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.8 square miles (54.0 km2), of which 20.7 square miles (53.6 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 0.68%, is water.

Aiken has a humid subtropical climate, which is characterized by hot, humid summers and cool, dry winters, but experiences milder temperatures throughout the year than the rest of the state. Precipitation does not vary much between the seasons with mostly rain in the milder months and sometimes snow in the winter months. The coldest recorded temperature was −4 °F or −20 °C on January 21, 1985 and the hottest 109 °F or 42.8 °C on August 21, 1983.

Climate data for Aiken, South Carolina
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 82
Average high °F (°C) 55
Average low °F (°C) 33
Record low °F (°C) −4
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.74
Source: The Weather Channel


  • US 1
  • US 78

  • US 78 Truck
  • SC 19
    • SC 19 Truck

    • SC 19 Conn.
  • SC 118
  • SC 302
  • SC 421


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,817
1890 2,362 30.0%
1900 3,414 44.5%
1910 3,911 14.6%
1920 4,103 4.9%
1930 6,033 47.0%
1940 6,168 2.2%
1950 7,083 14.8%
1960 11,243 58.7%
1970 13,436 19.5%
1980 14,978 11.5%
1990 19,872 32.7%
2000 25,337 27.5%
2010 29,566 16.7%
2019 (est.) 30,869 4.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

2020 census

Aiken racial composition
Race Num. Perc.
White (non-Hispanic) 19,757 61.69%
Black or African American (non-Hispanic) 9,076 28.34%
Native American 51 0.16%
Asian 640 2.0%
Pacific Islander 13 0.04%
Other/Mixed 1,271 3.97%
Hispanic or Latino 1,217 3.8%

As of the 2020 United States census, there were 32,025 people, 12,923 households, and 8,479 families residing in the city.

2010 census

As of the census of 2010, there were 29,524 people and 12,773 households with a population density was 1,416.3 people per square mile (604.6/km2). There were 14,162 housing units at an average density of 703.1 per square mile (271.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 66.8% White, 28.5% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 1.28% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.44% from other races, and 1.09% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 2.6% of the population.

There were 10,287 households, out of which 28.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.9% were married couples living together, 13.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 29.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 23.2% under the age of 18, 9.4% from 18 to 24, 25.5% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 17.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.0 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $49,100, and the median income for a family was $63,520. Males had a median income of $51,988 versus $28,009 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,129. About 10.1% of families and 14.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.0% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.

Between 1890 and the 1920s, many Jewish immigrants settled in Aiken. The Jewish immigrants were from Eastern Europe, including Russia and Poland. Many were from Knyszyn, Poland. In 1905, a group of Russian-Jewish socialists from New York founded a farming colony in Aiken County that was known as "Happyville". Adath (Adas) Yeshurun (Congregation of Israel) Synagogue was chartered in Aiken in 1921 and the cornerstone was laid in 1925. An historical marker was added to the synagogue in 2014, sponsored by the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina.


The municipality of Aiken was incorporated on December 19, 1835. The community formed around the terminus of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company, a rail line from Charleston to the Savannah River, and was named for William Aiken, the railroad's first president.

Originally it was in the Edgefield District. With population increases, in 1871 Aiken County was organized, made up of parts of neighboring counties. Among its founding commissioners were three African-American legislators: Prince Rivers; Samuel J. Lee, speaker of the state House and the first black man admitted to the South Carolina Bar; and Charles D. Hayne, a free man of color from one of Charleston's elite families.

Aiken was a planned town, and many of the streets in the historic district are named for other cities and counties in South Carolina, including Abbeville, Barnwell, Beaufort, Chesterfield, Colleton, Columbia, Dillon, Edgefield, Edisto, Fairfield, Florence, Greenville, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Marion, Marlboro, McCormick, Newberry, Orangeburg, Pendleton, Pickens, Richland, Sumter, Union, Williamsburg and York.

In the late 19th century, Aiken gained fame as a wintering spot for wealthy people from the Northeast. The Aiken Winter Colony was established by Thomas Hitchcock, Sr. and William C. Whitney. Over the years Aiken became a winter home for many famous and notable people including George H. Bostwick, James B. Eustis, Madeleine Astor, William Kissam Vanderbilt, Eugene Grace, president of Bethlehem Steel, Allan Pinkerton, W. Averell Harriman, and many others.

Savannah River Plant

The selection of a site near Aiken by the United States Atomic Energy Commission to build a plant to produce fuel for thermonuclear weapons was announced on November 30, 1950. Residences and businesses at Ellenton, South Carolina were bought for use for the plant site. Residents were moved to New Ellenton, which was constructed about eight miles north, or to the several neighboring towns.

The site was named the Savannah River Plant (subsequently renamed the Savannah River Site in 1989). The facility contains five production reactors, fuel fabrication facilities, a research laboratory, heavy water production facilities, two fuel reprocessing facilities and tritium recovery facilities.

Historic places

Steeplechase racing

The Aiken Steeplechase Association, founded in 1930, hosts the Imperial Cup each March and the Holiday Cup in October, both of which are steeplechase races sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association. This event shows attendances of more than 30,000 spectators.

The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum was established in 1977 as a tribute to the famous flat racing and steeplechase Thoroughbred horses that trained at the Aiken Training Track.

Other events

Aiken hosts many polo matches at the numerous polo fields located in the city. There are also many other events held in Aiken such as:

  • The Lobster Races
  • Aiken's Makin'
  • Western Carolina State Fair
  • Battle of Aiken Reenactment
  • The Whiskey Road Race
  • Aiken Triple Crown
  • Fall Steeplechase
  • Bluegrass Festival
  • Hops & Hogs


  • Aiken County Historical Museum- A living museum, also known as "Banksia" after the banksia rose, displays special exhibits of items from residents.
  • Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum- Displays the area's rich thoroughbred history with memorabilia, photography, and trophies.
  • Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum- the railroad depot is located on the second floor and had nine dioramas displaying depicted railroad history.
  • Aiken Center for Arts- Hosts educational classes, fine arts gallery, and exhibition opportunities.
  • Aiken County Farmers Market- The oldest food market in South Carolina.
  • Center for African American History, Art and Culture- Host special events of African American history.
  • DuPont Planetarium and RPSEC Observatory- Provides live presentations of stars, constellation, and visible planets.
  • Juilliard in Aiken- Live artistic performances, classes, lectures, and workshops.
  • Rose Hill Estate- Historic housing for overnight stay, weddings, reunions, meetings, and dinner parties.
  • Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site- Explore the events and lifestyle of enslavement.
  • Aiken State Park

The Southside

The Southside is the southern area of the city of Aiken, which strongly increased in development after the construction of the Savannah River Site. It now serves as the premiere shopping district in Aiken County, being the location of the Aiken Mall, multiple retail stores, and several restaurants. Two large residential communities, Houndslake Country Club and Woodside Plantation, have multiple golf courses within the communities. Many newcomers take up residence in either Houndslake or Woodside; however, the most prestigious homes are located in historic downtown Aiken.



  • Public schools:
    • Aiken Elementary School
    • Aiken High School
    • Aiken Middle School
    • Aiken Scholars Academy
    • Chukker Creek Elementary
    • East Aiken School of the Arts
    • JD Lever Elementary School
    • Jackson STEM Middle School
    • Kennedy Middle School
    • Lloyd Kennedy Charter School
    • Millbrook Elementary School
    • North Aiken Elementary School
    • Redcliffe Elementary School
    • Schofield Middle School
    • Silver Bluff High School
    • South Aiken High School
  • Private schools:
    • Aiken Christian School
    • Mead Hall Episcopal School
    • Palmetto Academy Day School
    • St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic School
    • Second Baptist Christian Preparatory School
    • South Aiken Baptist Christian School
    • Town Creek Christian Academy
  • Charter schools:
    • Lloyd Kennedy Charter School
    • Tall Pines Stem Academy
    • Horse Creek Academy

Colleges and universities

  • Aiken Technical College
  • University of South Carolina at Aiken


Aiken has a public library, a branch of the ABBE Regional Library System.

Notable people

In the late 19th century and the first part of the 20th century, Aiken served as a winter playground for many of the country's wealthiest families, such as the Vanderbilts, Bostwicks, and the Whitneys.

  • Lee Atwater (1951–1991), Republican strategist, advisor to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush; raised in Aiken
  • Charles E. Bohlen (1904-1974), U.S. diplomat; raised in Aiken
  • George H. Bostwick (1909–1982), court tennis player, steeplechase jockey and horse trainer, eight-goal polo player; "Pete" was grandson of Jabez A. Bostwick, wealthy Standard Oil partner
  • Anna Camp, actress, played Sarah Newlin in the HBO series True Blood and Aubrey in the film Pitch Perfect
  • Jimmy Carter, boxer, member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame
  • Barney Chavous, NFL player for the Denver Broncos
  • Corey Chavous, NFL player
  • F. Ambrose Clark, equestrian, heir to the Singer Sewing Machine Company fortune
  • Robert C. De Large (1842–1874), born in Aiken, U. S. Representative from South Carolina
  • Pam Durban, American novelist and short story writer.
  • Matilda Evans, first African-American woman licensed to practice medicine in South Carolina
  • Thomas Hitchcock and wife Louise owned a 3,000-acre (12 km2) estate near Aiken where in 1892 he founded the Palmetto Golf Club; in 1916, Louise founded Aiken Preparatory School. They built a steeplechase training center and in 1939 founded Hitchcock Woods with 1,191 acres of their estate.
  • Tommy Hitchcock, Jr. (1900–1944), son of Thomas and Louise Hitchcock, born in Aiken; polo player; veteran of the Lafayette Escadrille in World War I, killed in World War II.
  • Priscilla A. Wooten (1936-2017), American politician who served in the New York City Council from 1983 to 2001.
  • Hope Goddard Iselin, wife of Charles Oliver Iselin and original owner of Hopeland Gardens in Aiken
  • Kevin Kisner, PGA Tour Golfer
  • DeMarcus Lawrence, American football linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys
  • Fred L. Lowery, Southern Baptist clergyman, began pastorate at Bethel Baptist Church in Aiken in 1960
  • Devereux Milburn, grandson of Charles Steele, a senior partner at J. P. Morgan & Company, a 10-goal polo player and one of what was known as the Big Four in international polo
  • Janie L. Mines, First African-American woman to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy (1980)
  • Eugene Odum, author of Fundamentals of Ecology, founded Savannah River Ecology Laboratory south of Aiken to study ecological impacts of the nuclear facility
  • Michael Dean Perry, former NFL defensive lineman, six-time Pro Bowl selection (1989–91, 93–94, 96), NCAA first-team All-American (1987)
  • William Refrigerator Perry, former NFL defensive lineman with Super Bowl XX champion Chicago Bears and 3-time NCAA All-American (1982–1984)
  • Frederick H. Prince, financier who purchased William Kissam Vanderbilt's cottage Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island
  • Pat Sawilowsky (b. 1930), past president of National Ladies Auxiliary of Jewish War Veterans; her father, Herbert B. Ram, owned and named Patricia Theater in downtown Aiken after her, and the companion Rosemary Theater was named for her sister.
  • Charlie Simpkins, silver medalist, triple jump, 1992 Summer Olympics
  • Marion Hartzog Smoak (1916-2020), lawyer, United States diplomat, and South Carolina state senator
  • Grace Taylor, gymnast
  • Dekoda Watson, athlete, linebacker with San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • William C. Whitney, helped establish "Winter Colony," a 69-room winter residence
  • Paul Wight (Big Show) (b. 1972), professional wrestler and actor, seven-time world champion in wrestling
  • Troy Williamson (b. 1983), professional football player
  • Marly Youmans, novelist and poet, born in Aiken

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Aiken para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Notable Hispanic writers
Marie Arana
Sandra Cisneros
Sergio Troncoso
Nina Serrano
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