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Sumter, South Carolina
Downtown Sumter
Downtown Sumter
Official seal of Sumter, South Carolina
Nickname(s): "The Gamecock City"
Motto: "Uncommon Patriotism"
Location of Sumter in South Carolina
Location of Sumter in South Carolina
Country United States
State South Carolina
County Sumter
Incorporated 1845
 • Total 26.7 sq mi (53.0 km2)
 • Land 26.6 sq mi (50.8 km2)
 • Water 0.2 sq mi (4.2 km2)
Elevation 171 ft (52 m)
Population (2010)
 • Total 40,524
 • Density 1,545/sq mi (596.6/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 29150, 29151, 29153, 29154
Area code(s) 803
FIPS code 45-70405
GNIS feature ID 1251074

Sumter /ˈsʌmtər/ is the county seat of Sumter County, South Carolina, United States. Known as the Sumter Metropolitan Statistical Area, the namesake county adjoins Clarendon and Lee to form the core of Sumter-Lee-Clarendon tri-county area of South Carolina, an area that includes the three counties in the east central Piedmont. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population was 39,643 at the 2000 census. The 2010 census puts the city at 40,524.


Incorporated as Sumterville in 1845, the city's name was shortened to Sumter in 1855. It has grown and prospered from its early beginnings as a plantation settlement. The city and county of Sumter bear the name of General Thomas Sumter, the "Fighting Gamecock" of the American Revolutionary War.

During the Civil War the town was an important supply and railroad repair center for the Confederacy. After the war, Sumter grew and prospered, using its large railroad network to supply cotton, timber, and by the start of the 20th century, tobacco to the region.

During the 20th century, Sumter grew into a major industrial center. Starting with the opening of Shaw Air Force Base (now home to the 9th Air Force, 20th Fighter Wing, and United States Army Central) in 1941, industry grew, especially after World War II. Sumter became increasingly known for textiles, manufacturing, biotech industries, a thriving retail environment and medical center of its region in addition to agricultural products, which makes it a hub for business in the east central portion of South Carolina.

The J. Clinton Brogdon House, Carnegie Public Library, Heriot-Moise House, Charles T. Mason House, Myrtle Moor, O'Donnell House, Rip Raps Plantation, Salem Black River Presbyterian Church, Henry Lee Scarborough House, Stateburg Historic District, Sumter County Courthouse, Sumter Historic District, Sumter Town Hall-Opera House, Temple Sinai, Elizabeth White House, and Singleton's Graveyard are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Known as the Gamecock City, Sumter lies near the geographic center of the state of South Carolina at 33°55′37″N 80°21′49″W / 33.92694°N 80.36361°W / 33.92694; -80.36361 (33.926942, −80.363541). Sumter is 100 miles west of Myrtle Beach's Grand Strand and 175 miles east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Columbia, the state capital, lies approximately 45 miles to the west, and Charleston is approximately 100 miles to the south. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 26.8 square miles (69.3 km²), of which 26.6 square miles (68.9 km²) is land and 0.2 square mile (0.4 km²) (0.60%) is water.

Climate data for Sumter, 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


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 1,356
1860 1,119 −17.5%
1870 1,807 61.5%
1880 2,011 11.3%
1890 3,865 92.2%
1900 5,673 46.8%
1910 8,109 42.9%
1920 9,508 17.3%
1930 11,780 23.9%
1940 15,874 34.8%
1950 20,185 27.2%
1960 23,062 14.3%
1970 24,435 6.0%
1980 24,921 2.0%
1990 41,943 68.3%
2000 39,643 −5.5%
2010 40,524 2.2%
Est. 2015 40,816 0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of 2007, there were 59,180 people, 34,717 households, and 4,049 families living in the city. The population density was 4,469.5 people per square mile (775.6/km²). There were 46,032 housing units at an average density of 603.0 per square mile (232.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 45.3% Caucasian, 49.1% African American, 1.24% Native American, 1.6% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.12% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.98% of the population.

There were 44,717 households, of which 75% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.0% were married couples living together, 19.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.0% were non-families. 17.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 1.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the city, the population was spread out with 37.6% under the age of 18, 12.28% from 18 to 24, 26.04% from 25 to 44, 19.55% from 45 to 64, and 14.12% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.3 years. For every 100 females there were 89.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $39,264, and the median income for a family was $55,328. Males had a median income of $37,078 versus $32,002 for females. The per capita income for the city was $36,949. About 13.0% of families and 26.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.8% of those under age 18 and 15.3% of those age 65 or over.

Shaw Air Force Base

Sumter is home to Shaw Air Force Base, headquarters of the United States Army Central, 9th Air Force, the 20th Fighter Wing and many other tenant units. Since World War II it has been a major source of federal and civilian employment in the area.

Shaw's fighter planes consist of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which is a versatile multi-role fighter. F-16's dispatched from Shaw were the primary fighters used in the Gulf War. In response to the city's service, Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower through Barack Obama have visited Sumter to express their gratitude. The base was named in honor of 1st Lieutenant Ervin David Shaw, one of the first Americans to fly combat missions in World War I.

Mass transit

The Santee-Wateree Regional Transit Authority (SWRTA), is the agency responsible for operating mass transit in greater Sumter area.The transit department is in connection with Shaw Air force Base. SWRTA operates express shuttles, and bus service serving Sumter and the communities within the county. The authority was established in October 2002 after SCANA released ownership of public transportation back to the City of Sumter. Since 2003, SWRTA provides transportation for more than 10,000 passengers, has expanded route services and introduced 15 new ADA accessible buses offering a safer, more comfortable means of transportation. In recent years, SWRTA has added natural gas powered buses to its small fleet, and has plans to expand.

Swan Lake/Iris Gardens

Swan Lake/Iris Gardens is the only public park in the United States containing all eight known species of swan. The beautiful black waters of Swan Lake form the setting for the spectacular Iris Gardens. The lake is dotted with colorful islands, and wildlife is abundant. The only public park in the United States to feature all eight swan species, Swan Lake-Iris Gardens is also home to some of the nation's most intensive plantings of Japanese iris, which bloom yearly in mid to late May and last until the beginning of June. The garden also boasts many other floral attractions, including colorful camellias, azaleas, day lilies, and Japanese magnolias. A Braille Trail enables the sight-impaired to enjoy the scents and sensations of the gardens, and a Butterfly Garden and Chocolate Garden both delight the senses.

This area was first developed in 1927 as a private fishing retreat by Hamilton Carr Bland, a local businessman. At the same time he was developing the 30 acres (12 ha) of swamp on what is now the north side of West Liberty Street, he was landscaping the grounds of his home with Japanese iris. They failed miserably, and after consulting expert horticulturists from as far away as New York, he ordered his gardener to dig up the bulbs and dump them at the swamp. The following spring, they burst into bloom. The accidental garden, referred to by Southern Living magazine as a "lovely mistake," has since been developed into one of the finest botanical gardens in the United States.

The park is host to numerous events and festivals throughout the year. The annual "Iris Festival", South Carolina's oldest festival, is held at Swan Lake/Iris Gardens every Memorial Day weekend in May. The gardens come alive with color during the Christmas season with the nighttime Fantasy of Lights display, featuring more than 1,000,000 varicolored sparkling lights in an array of colors and shapes. It also hosts an annual Earth Day celebration.

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