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Central, South Carolina
Top, left to right: Downtown Central, Southern Wesleyan University, Central Roller Mills, Central High School
Top, left to right: Downtown Central, Southern Wesleyan University, Central Roller Mills, Central High School
Location of Central within South Carolina
Location of Central within South Carolina
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Pickens
Incorporated 1875
 • Total 2.4 sq mi (6.2 km2)
 • Land 2.4 sq mi (6.2 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
912 ft (278 m)
 • Total 5,159
 • Density 2,150/sq mi (832/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP code
Area code 864
FIPS code 45-13015
GNIS feature ID 1247236

Central is a town in Pickens County, South Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 5,159, roughly 3000 of which were considered permanent residents. Contrary to its name, it is not near the center of South Carolina. It received its name from its geographic location, being the halfway or central point between Atlanta and Charlotte along the former Atlanta and Richmond Air-Line Railway line. The primary campus of Southern Wesleyan University is located east of the downtown area.


Central was founded by the Atlanta and Richmond Air Line Company in a railroad boon that began in 1873. The town's name represents the fact that it is midway between Atlanta and Charlotte. Central was incorporated as a town on March 17, 1875.

In 1897, Southern Railway moved its headquarters from Central to Greenville; trains no longer stopped to change engines, and soon all shops and offices were closed. The establishment of Issaqueena Mill and in 1906, Wesleyan Methodist Bible Institute (now Southern Wesleyan University) brought people back to the town.

Two buildings on Church Street in Central are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Central High School and Morgan House. The Central Roller Mills on Madden Bridge Rd. was listed in 2013.


Central is located at 34°43′26″N 82°46′47″W / 34.723781°N 82.779754°W / 34.723781; -82.779754. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2), all of it land.

Downtown Central is bisected by a rail line. A significant number of late 19th to early 20th century commercial buildings remain, most of which are a single story in height and retain a good amount of historical integrity. As of summer 2006, a downtown streetscape project is underway that is designed to improve the aesthetics of the area. There are also many modest pre-World War II homes near the downtown. Central has several very large apartment complexes, including The Summit at Cross Creek, which primarily house students from nearby Clemson University (who can use Clemson Area Transit to get there), as well as from Central's own Southern Wesleyan University.

The Central Heritage Society has a museum and information on many historic buildings and homes in the area.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 184
1890 396 115.2%
1900 349 −11.9%
1910 886 153.9%
1920 898 1.4%
1930 1,440 60.4%
1940 1,496 3.9%
1950 1,263 −15.6%
1960 1,473 16.6%
1970 1,550 5.2%
1980 1,914 23.5%
1990 2,438 27.4%
2000 3,522 44.5%
2010 5,159 46.5%
2015 (est.) 5,167 0.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

Central is part of the GreenvilleMauldinEasley metropolitan area.

2010 census

The population of the Town has grown rapidly since 2000 due mostly to the construction of apartment complexes for students attending nearby Clemson University as well as Southern Wesleyan, and Tri-County Technical College.

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