Aiken, South Carolina
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Aiken, South Carolina
Aiken County Courthouse and Confederate Monument
Aiken County Courthouse and Confederate Monument
The Thoroughbred
Location of Aiken, South Carolina
Location of Aiken, South Carolina
Aiken is located in South Carolina
Location of Aiken, South Carolina
Aiken is located in the United States
Aiken (the United States)
Aiken is located in North America
Aiken (North America)
Coordinates: 33°32?58?N 81°43?14?W / 33.54944°N 81.72056°W / 33.54944; -81.72056Coordinates: 33°32?58?N 81°43?14?W / 33.54944°N 81.72056°W / 33.54944; -81.72056
CountryUnited States
State South Carolina
County Aiken
 o TypeCouncil-manager
 o MayorRick Osbon[1]
 o City ManagerStuart Bedenbaugh
 o Total21.04 sq mi (54.49 km2)
 o Land20.91 sq mi (54.15 km2)
 o Water0.13 sq mi (0.34 km2)
515 ft (157 m)
 o Total29,566
 o Estimate 
 o Density1,476.42/sq mi (570.06/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
 o Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP Codes
29801-29805, 29808
Area codes803, 839
FIPS code45-00550[6]
GNIS feature ID1244853[7]
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.[8][9] With Augusta, Georgia, it is one of the two largest cities of the Central Savannah River Area. It is part of the Augusta-Richmond County Metropolitan Statistical 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.[10] 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.[11]

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),[12] 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 an 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.[13]

Aiken has a humid subtropical climate characterized by hot, humid summers and cool, dry winters, but experiences milder temperatures throughout the year than the rest of the state. Precipitation is distributed relatively uniformly throughout the year, with mostly rain in the milder months and occasional snow in the winter. 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.


As of the census[6] 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.[18][19][20][21]


Aiken is governed via a mayor-council system. A mayor is elected at-large. The city council consists of six members. All six members are elected from single member districts.

  • Mayor: Rick Osbon
  • District 1: Gail Diggs
  • District 2: Lessie Price
  • District 3: Dick Dewar
  • District 4: Ed Girardeau
  • District 5: Andrea Neira Gregory
  • District 6: Ed Woltz


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.[22]

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. Thomas Hitchcock, Sr. and William C. Whitney established the Aiken Winter Colony. Over the years Aiken became a winter home for many notable people, including George H. Bostwick, James B. Eustis, Madeleine Astor, William Kissam Vanderbilt, Eugene Grace, president of Bethlehem Steel, Allan Pinkerton, and W. Averell Harriman.

Savannah River Plant

The United States Atomic Energy Commission's selection of a site near Aiken for 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 neighboring towns.

The site was named the Savannah River Plant, and 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



  • Public schools:
    • Aiken Elementary School
    • Aiken High School
    • Aiken Middle School
    • Aiken Scholars Academy [26]
    • 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 [27]
  • Charter schools:
    • Aiken Performing Arts Academy
    • Lloyd Kennedy Charter School
    • Tall Pines Stem Academy
    • Horse Creek Academy

Colleges and universities


Aiken has a public library, a branch of the ABBE Regional Library System.[28]

Steeplechase racing

The Aiken Steeplechase Association,[29] founded in 1930, hosts the Imperial Cup each March and the Holiday Cup in October, both races sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association. This event draws 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 trained at the Aiken Training Track.[30]

Other events

Aiken hosts many polo matches at its numerous polo fields. Other local events include:

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


  • Aiken Center for Arts - Hosts educational classes, fine arts gallery, and exhibition opportunities.
  • Aiken County Farmers Market - The oldest food market in South Carolina.
  • Aiken County Historical Museum - A living museum, also known as "Banksia" after the banksia rose, displays special exhibits of items from residents.
  • Aiken State Park
  • 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 on the second floor and had nine dioramas depicting railroad history.
  • Center for African American History, Art and Culture - Hosts special events of African American history.
  • DuPont Planetarium and RPSEC Observatory - Provides live presentations of stars, constellation, and visible planets.
  • Hitchcock Woods - One of the largest urban forests in the United States, at 2100 acres. Provides hiking, walking and equestrian trails.[31]
  • Juilliard in Aiken - Live artistic performances, classes, lectures, and workshops.
  • Redcliffe Plantation State Historic - slaves' and owners' lives depicted.
  • Rose Hill Estate - Historic housing for overnight stay, weddings, reunions, meetings, and dinner parties.

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.

The Southside

The Southside is Aiken's southern portion, which strongly increased in development after the construction of the Savannah River Site. It now serves as Aiken County's premiere shopping district, comprising 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, but the most prestigious homes are in historic downtown Aiken.


  1. ^ Records kept at the Aiken 5 SE COOP (33°29?33?N 81°41?45?W / 33.4925°N 81.69583°W / 33.4925; -81.69583) until November 1, 2008, and at the Aiken 2 E COOP (33°33?00?N 81°41?49?W / 33.5501°N 81.6969°W / 33.5501; -81.6969) since January 24, 2009.[14]


  1. ^ "The City of Aiken". Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ "Home - City of Aiken Government, South Carolina".
  3. ^ "Home - City of Aiken Government, South Carolina".
  4. ^ "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ a b "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved .
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-01. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved .
  10. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved 2020.
  11. ^ "Aiken, South Carolina: A Horse-Country Town Rich in Tradition". Southern Living.
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved .
  13. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Aiken city, South Carolina". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Archived from the original on February 12, 2020. Retrieved 2013.
  14. ^ "Threaded Extremes".
  15. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved . Select "Aiken Area"
  16. ^ "Station Name: SC AIKEN 5 SE". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved .
  17. ^ "Station Name: SC AIKEN 2 E". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved .
  18. ^ "Happyville, the Forgotten Colony" (PDF). American Jewish Archives. Retrieved .
  19. ^ "Aiken Jewish community collection". College of Charleston. Retrieved .
  20. ^ "Adath Yeshurun Historical Marker Dedication". Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina. Retrieved .
  21. ^ "Strangers in Paradise: A Century of Jewish Settlement in Aiken, SC" (PDF). Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina. Retrieved .
  22. ^ Jim Nesbitt, "County, once booming, now shadows town it used to rival" Archived 2008-11-20 at the Wayback Machine, Augusta Chronicle, 16 February 2004
  23. ^ "Hopelands Gardens". City of Aiken. Archived from the original on June 27, 2012. Retrieved 2012.
  24. ^ "Old Aiken Post Office transformed into SRNS Aiken headquarters" (PDF). Savannah River Nuclear Solutions. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions. Retrieved 2017.
  25. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  26. ^ "Aiken Scholars Academy / Homepage" Check |url= value (help). http.
  27. ^ "Town Creek Christian Academy - K-12 School; Birth-4K Preschool". Town Creek Christian Academy.
  28. ^ "South Carolina libraries and archives". SCIWAY. Retrieved 2019.
  29. ^ "Aiken Steeplechase Association - Southern Strides".
  30. ^ "Aiken Training Track". Archived from the original on 2012-03-06. Retrieved .
  31. ^ "Hitchcock Woods Foundation - Aiken, SC". Retrieved .
  32. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-05. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^ "History | Hitchcock Woods Foundation - Aiken, SC". Retrieved .
  35. ^ B. Ram, Movie Theater Builder.
  36. ^ Theater.
  37. ^ Theater
  38. ^, A. (2011). Memories of Growing Up and Living in Aiken, South Carolina, Rocket Publishing: Aiken, SC, p. 305-307

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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