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Florence, South Carolina
Aerial view of Florence Civic Center
Aerial view of Florence Civic Center
Official logo of Florence, South Carolina
"Flo-Town" "The Magic City"
Full life. Full forward.
Location in Florence County in South Carolina
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Florence
Incorporated December 24, 1890
Founded by Jerome P. Chase
Named for Florence Harllee
 • City 23.21 sq mi (60.11 km2)
 • Land 23.12 sq mi (59.87 km2)
 • Water 0.09 sq mi (0.24 km2)
138 ft (42 m)
 • City 37,056
 • Estimate 
 • Rank SC: 11th
 • Density 1,666.85/sq mi (643.57/km2)
 • Urban
 • Metro
 • Demonym
Time zone UTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 843, 854
FIPS code 45-25810
GNIS feature ID 1222461

Florence is a city in and the county seat of Florence County, South Carolina, United States. It lies at the intersection of Interstates 20 and 95 and is the eastern terminus of the former. It is the county seat of Florence County and the primary city within the Florence metropolitan 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. As of the 2010 census, the population of Florence was 37,056, and the estimated population in 2019 was 38,531.

Florence is one of the major cities in South Carolina. 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.


The City of Florence was chartered in 1871 and incorporated in 1890 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 Proprietors in 1719. The area was gradually settled through the late 19th 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, 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 2,800 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, and manufacturing, in addition to agricultural products.


Florence is located in the coastal plain of South Carolina. It is in the northeastern part of the state and the northern part of Florence County. 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, passing south of the city center. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 20.9 square miles (54.2 km2), of which 20.9 square miles (54.1 km2) are land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2), or 0.22%, 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
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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



  • I-95 is a six-lane freeway that enters the city from the northeast, and exits southwest. The highway leads northeast 87 miles (140 km) to Fayetteville, North Carolina, and southwest 179 miles (288 km) to Savannah, Georgia.
  • 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.). Interstate 20 leads west 83 miles (134 km) to Columbia, then on to Atlanta and ultimately Texas.
  • US 52 is a north to south route through the downtown area. The highway crosses Interstate 95 northwest of the downtown area and leads north 157 miles (253 km) to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. To the south it merges with US 301 and eventually leads 113 miles (182 km) to Charleston.
  • US 76 enters the city from the 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 leads southwest 39 miles (63 km) to Sumter and east 115 miles (185 km) to Wilmington, North Carolina.
  • US 301 offers another northeast to southwest route through 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.

Mass transit

The Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority (PDRTA) is the principal agency responsible for operating mass transit in greater Florence 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 surrounding areas. The authority was established in June 1974; it 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 transports approximately 2,457 people daily. It 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 American Eagle to Charlotte and is the second busiest airport in the region behind Myrtle Beach International Airport. It is located an hour west of Myrtle Beach.

Intercity rail

Amtrak's The Palmetto trains 89, 90 and the Silver Meteor trains 97, 98 connect Florence with the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington, Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami.

Intercity bus

Greyhound Lines and Southeastern Stages operates a station on Irby Street, in the southern part of downtown, providing Florence with intercity bus transportation.

Downtown revitalization

In 2010, the city of Florence began 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


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,914
1890 3,395 77.4%
1900 4,647 36.9%
1910 7,057 51.9%
1920 10,968 55.4%
1930 14,774 34.7%
1940 16,054 8.7%
1950 22,513 40.2%
1960 24,722 9.8%
1970 25,997 5.2%
1980 29,842 14.8%
1990 29,813 −0.1%
2000 30,248 1.5%
2010 37,056 22.5%
2015 (est.) 38,228 3.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

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 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 United States, 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.




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.


During the latter part of the 20th century and early 21st century, Florence's economy was transformed from being 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 nine 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 four major medical providers McLeod Regional Medical Center, Medical University of South Carolina Hospital, Regency Hospital 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 GE Healthcare manufacturing operations (MRI manufacturing), 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 Patheon pharmaceutical manufacturing facility and research and development center for Patheon API Services.

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 include Truist Financial,, Otis Elevator, CSX Transportation, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Florence has operation headquarters for AT&T and is the southeastern headquarters of Duke Energy Inc.

Florence has benefited from 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, General Electric, Honda, QVC Distribution Center and Otis Elevator.



Baseball has a long history in Florence, dating back to the 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 over 30 league titles and six state championships. 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.

Florence is home to the Coastal Plain League Florence Flamingos summer collegiate baseball team. Relocated to Florence in 1998, the 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 Flamingos play at the 1,755-capacity Sparrow Stadium at Francis Marion University. The stadium is also hosts some home games for the Florence–Darlington Technical College Stingers baseball team. Post 1 plays its home games at American Legion Field, adjacent to Memorial Stadium, where Florence's three public high schools play their home football games.

Carolina Bank Field is a baseball stadium being built as part of the Florence Sports Complex to host the Flamingos starting in 2022.


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. There was an arena football team too, briefly, but its contract to play at the Florence Center was not renewed.


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.


Public schools

The Florence Public School District One is the governing body of the public schools in the area. As of 2010, the district has an active enrollment of 14,500 students, attending a total of 20 schools, including 13 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and 3 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.

Private schools

  • Florence Christian School
  • Montessori School of Florence
  • Trinity Collegiate School
  • The King's Academy
  • All Saints' Episcopal Day School
  • Saint Anthony Catholic School
  • New Prospect Christian School

Higher education

Facilities of higher education in and around Florence include Francis Marion University and Florence–Darlington Technical College. 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.


Florence has a public library, a branch of the Florence County Library System. The Florence County Public Library has a room, the South Carolina Room, dedicated to South Carolina history and genealogy.

Notable people

  • Blackie Collins, author and knife maker
  • Graves of Valor, band
  • The Independents, band
  • William Johnson, artist
  • Matt Laug, drummer
  • Trey Lorenz, musician
  • Philip B. Meggs, author and historian
  • Gillian Murphy, ballet dancer
  • Houston Person, musician
  • Padgett Powell, author
  • Doug Quattlebaum, Piedmont blues guitarist, singer and songwriter
  • Sequoyah Prep School, band
  • Through the Eyes of the Dead, band
  • Henry Timrod, so-called "poet laureate of the Confederacy"
  • K. Lee Graham, Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2013, Miss Teen USA 2014
  • Mark L. Walberg, television host

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Florence (Carolina del Sur) para niños

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