DescriptionOriginally settled on the opposite bank of the Congaree River, Columbia was created and designated South Carolina's capital by a 1786 act of the legislature, which moved the seat of government from Charleston. On Dec. 17, 1860, a convention met to draw up the Ordinance of Secession, but because of a smallpox epidemic the convention moved to Charleston, where the ordinance was signed.
Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman entered Columbia on Feb. 17, 1865, and set a fire the same night that destroyed three-fourths of the city, including every house on Main Street except that of the French consul. The university, public buildings and statehouse also were spared. The South Carolina Governor's Mansion, the surviving structure of a destroyed military school, is open by appointment; phone (803) 737-1710.
Chartered in 1801, the University of South Carolina plays a prominent role in Columbia. The original campus of the university, known as the Horseshoe, contains 10 restored buildings dating to the early 19th century; the buildings are currently used for classrooms, offices and living quarters. The visitor center has displays and interactive exhibits about the university's history and campus. It's located in the McKissick Museum , which is at the top of the Horseshoe. Campus tours are available; phone (803) 777-0169 or (800) 922-9755 for schedule and other information.
Finlay Park, set in downtown Columbia, features lakes, waterfalls, walking trails, a Leyland cypress tree, a playground and patios surrounding a plaza; phone (803) 545-3100.
Visitor InfoExperience Columbia SC 1101 Lincoln St. COLUMBIA, SC 29201. Phone:(803)545-0000 or (800)264-4884
Self-guiding toursBrochures for self-guiding walking tours of various historic neighborhoods and sites can be picked up from the visitor center and from the Robert Mills House museum shop.
ShoppingColumbia offers three specialty shopping districts. In the Five Points district there are nearly three dozen shops, many of which are on Harden Street and Saluda Avenue. Congaree Vista, a former industrial and warehouse district, is now a 1,200-acre historic district filled with shops and art galleries. Many of the old buildings now house these new establishments. The Doors of Devine features upscale shops along Devine Street. All three districts also include restaurants, and Five Points and Congaree Vista are entertainment and nightlife hubs, too.
For the basics, turn to Columbia Place (7201 Two Notch Rd.), with Macy's and Sears. Columbiana Centre (100 Columbiana Cir.), offers Banana Republic, bebe and Dillard's. Village at Sandhill (481 Towncenter Pl.) has Belk and JCPenney along with an array of other mall stores.
Things to SeeThe Columbia Museum of Art