Rock Hill, South Carolina
|City of Rock Hill|
Downtown Rock Hill
The Gateway to South Carolina; Football City USA
Location of Rock Hill in South Carolina
|o Mayor||John Gettys (D)|
|o City||39.14 sq mi (101.38 km2)|
|o Land||38.99 sq mi (100.97 km2)|
|o Water||0.16 sq mi (0.41 km2) 0.4%|
|Elevation||676 ft (206 m)|
| o Estimate |
|o Density||1,925.00/sq mi (743.25/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (Eastern)|
|o Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (Eastern)|
29730 29731 29732 29733 29734
|Area code(s)||803, 839|
|GNIS feature ID||1250417|
Rock Hill is the largest city in York County, South Carolina, United States and the fifth-largest city in the state. It is also the fourth-largest city of the Charlotte metropolitan area, behind Charlotte, Concord, and Gastonia (all located in North Carolina, unlike Rock Hill). As of the 2010 Census, the population was 66,154. In 2019, the population had increased to 75,048. As of 2017, the total population of Rock Hill corporate limits was estimated at 117,375 people.
The city is located approximately 25 miles (40 km) south of Charlotte and approximately 70 miles (110 km) north of Columbia.
Rock Hill offers scenic riverfront views along the Catawba River and is home to numerous nature trails, restaurants, and thirty-one parks which are used for both national and local events. Its historic downtown consist of twelve contiguous buildings built as early as 1840 offering dining and retail options. The city is also home to three colleges, including Winthrop University, a public liberal arts university founded in 1886 which enrolls nearly 6,000 students annually.
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Proceeding cultures of indigenous peoples lived in the Piedmont for thousands of years. The historic Catawba Indian Nation, a traditionally Siouan-speaking tribe, was here at the time of European encounter. Currently the only tribe in South Carolina that is federally recognized, its members live near Rock Hill.
Although some European settlers had already arrived in the Rock Hill area in the 1830s and 1840s, Rock Hill did not become an actual town until the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad Company made the decision to send a rail line through the area. Originally, the railroad had hoped to build a station in the nearby village of Ebenezerville which was squarely between Charlotte, North Carolina and Columbia, South Carolina. When approached, however, the locals in Ebenezerville refused to have the railroad run through their village since they considered it dirty and noisy. Instead, engineers and surveyors decided to run the line two miles away by a local landmark. According to some, the engineers marked the spot on the map and named it "rocky hill."(p26)
Some of Rock Hill's early founding families--the White family, the Black family, and the Moores--believed that having a rail depot so close to them would be advantageous, so they decided to give the Columbia and Charlotte Railroad the right of way through their properties. As the three largest landowners in the area, this settled the matter. George Pendleton White contracted with the railroad to build a section of the line. Construction began in 1848. The first passenger train arrived on March 23, 1852. A few weeks later, on April 17, 1852, the first Rock Hill Post Office opened.(pp26-28)
Now that Rock Hill had a name, a railroad station, and a post office, it began to draw more settlers to the area. Captain J. H. McGinnis built a small general store near the station in 1849 or 1850 to provide supplies for the construction and railroad workers.(pp27-28) Templeton Black, who had leased the land to McGinnis, decided to devote some of his other adjacent land to building a larger town. He hired a local surveyor, Squire John Roddey, to organize a main street. Black sold his first plot of land along that street to Ira Ferguson for $125 a few weeks before the post office opened; other businessmen bought plots quickly after that.(p28)
Rock Hill Academy, the first school in Rock Hill, opened in September 1854. Despite its official name, most residents referred to it as the Pine Grove Academy after the pine grove it was located in. Ann Hutchinson White, wife of George White, donated the land to the school after her husband's death. The school had 60 male pupils in 1856; a school for girls was later opened in the same place.(p28)
Shortly before the American Civil War began a census had been taken of the population in York County, where Rock Hill is located. Half of the district's 21,800 residents were slaves, integral to local cotton production. The 4,379 white males in the county formed fourteen infantry companies; some of the men joined cavalry or artillery units instead. By the end of the war, 805 of these men were dead, and hundreds more were wounded. Men from Rock Hill and York County were involved in many of the major Civil War battles.(p35)
Due to its position on the railroad, Rock Hill became a transfer point for Confederate soldiers and supplies moving to and from the front. Since there was no local hospital, townspeople nursed sick and wounded soldiers in their homes. Refugees fleeing the coastal blockade or General Sherman's troops also came to Rock Hill.(p39)
Beginning in the spring of 1862, local area farmers switched from cotton to corn in order to produce more food.(p39) Records show that prices in Rock Hill changed frequently during the war, reflecting both shortages and the inflation of the Confederate paper money.(p41)
Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard set up a temporary headquarters in Rock Hill on February 21, 1865.(p41) He ordered the roads to Charlotte blocked to try to prevent General Sherman from reaching the city; Sherman ultimately went in a different direction.
When General Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House, it was actually a future Rock Hill resident who was responsible for waving the white flag. Captain Robert Moorman Sims, a farmer from Lancaster County, was sent by General James Longstreet to inform Union troops that the Confederate troops wanted a truce.(p42)
The Civil War changed the social, economic, and political situation in Rock Hill tremendously, as it did elsewhere in the South. Rock Hill grew as a town, taking in war refugees, widows and their families, and the return of the men who had left to fight the war.(p58) The formerly wealthy elite sold off their land to stay afloat financially. Town life began to become more important than rural life.
Most of the merchants in Rock Hill around 1870 were former Confederate soldiers; many were entrepreneurs who were new to town, trying to start over.(p59) In 1870, even the largest stores in Rock Hill were only one storey tall, and there were no sidewalks on the roads. The first drug store in Rock Hill opened in the 1870s.(p61) A locally contentious bordello was built in 1881 and introduced the town's first paved sidewalk.(p61)
The town was not officially incorporated until 1870, on the third try.
The first attempt to get Rock Hill incorporated was made in 1855. A petition, signed by major landholders and businessmen from the Rock Hill area, was presented to the General Assembly on October 19, 1855.(p29) No action on the matter was taken by the General Assembly.
The second attempt was in 1868. In their petition, the townspeople claimed that Rock Hill had over 300 residents, "eleven stores, two churches, two bars, two hotels, two carriage shops, three blacksmith shops, three shoe shops, one tannery, one cabinet shop, and elementary schools for white girls and boys." The petition was signed by 48 men, most relative newcomers to Rock Hill, with only a few members of the old, established, landed families. The larger landholders opposed incorporation because of the taxes it would bring. They filed a counter-proposal which claimed that there were only 100 residents, many of them temporary.(p63) The situation was a strong indication of the changes Rock Hill experienced as it transitioned from mostly farms to a business community. Ultimately, the state legislature did not act on either petition and Rock Hill was still not incorporated.
The third, successful petition was made in 1869, only one year after 1868's failed petition. This time there were 57 signers in favor of incorporation, with only seven opponents. The opponents collectively owned 80% of the land that would be incorporated into Rock Hill if the petition was successful. They were unsuccessful at preventing incorporation this time; Rock Hill was officially incorporated on February 26, 1870.(p64)
Rock Hill was the setting for two significant events in the civil rights movement. In February 1961, nine African-American men went to jail at the York County prison farm after staging a sit-in at a segregated McCrory's lunch counter in downtown Rock Hill. The current location is now known as "Five and Dine" which has the names of the activists engraved. Their offense was reported to be "refusing to stop singing hymns during their morning devotions." The event gained nationwide attention as the men followed an untried strategy called "jail, no bail." Rejecting bail was a way to lessen the huge financial burden which civil rights groups were facing as the sit-in movement spread across the South. As their actions gained widespread national news coverage, the tactic was adopted by other civil rights groups. The men became known as the Friendship Nine because eight of the nine men were students at Rock Hill's Friendship Junior College.
Later in 1961, Rock Hill was the first stop in the Deep South for a group of 13 Freedom Riders, who boarded buses in Washington, DC, and headed South to test the 1960 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court outlawing racial segregation in all interstate public facilities. When the civil rights leader John Lewis and another black man stepped off the bus at Rock Hill, they were beaten by a white mob that was uncontrolled by police. The event drew national attention.
In 2002, Lewis, by then a US Congressman from Georgia, returned to Rock Hill, where he had been invited as a speaker at Winthrop University and was given the key to the city. On January 21, 2008, Rep. Lewis returned to Rock Hill again and spoke at the city's Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance. Mayor Doug Echols officially apologized to him on the city's behalf for the Freedom Riders' treatment in the city.
Rock Hill experienced steady growth in the twentieth century. The city boundary expanded far beyond its original limits. Four unincorporated communities of York County were annexed into the city including Boyd Hill in the late 1940s, Ebenezer and Mexico in the 1960s, and Oakdale in the 1980s.
Rock Hill hosted the 2017 UCI BMX World Championships at the Rock Hill BMX Supercross Track in Riverwalk with an estimated direct economic impact of $19.2 million.
Each holds a disc that symbolizes the four drivers of the city's economy - Gears of Industry, Flames of Knowledge, Stars of Inspiration, and Bolts of Energy. The ribbons in the Civitates' clothing and hair transform into wings, inferring the textile industry as the foundation of the city's growth.
The 22-foot-tall (6.7 m) Civitas statues were made of bronze by the New York sculptor Audrey Flack. Originally they were to be installed in Uptown Charlotte, but were offered to the city of Rock Hill.
In 1992, a fifth Civitas statue by Flack was placed at the City Hall in downtown Rock Hill.
The 60-foot-tall (18 m) columns that form the Gateway came from the old (1914-87) Egyptian Revival Masonic Temple in Charlotte, North Carolina. They were gifted to the city by the First Union Corporation, and are regarded among the area's most treasured historical artifacts.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 43.16 square miles (111.8 km2), of which 43.0 square miles (111 km2) is land and 0.16 square miles (0.41 km2) (0.4%) is water.
Rock Hill is located along the Catawba River in the north-central section of the Piedmont of South Carolina, south of the city of Charlotte in North Carolina. The city sits at an elevation of around 676 feet (206 m) above sea level. It is located approximately 150 miles (240 km) from the Atlantic Ocean and 75 miles (121 km) from the Blue Ridge Mountains. The northern limits of the city reside along Lake Wylie, a large man-made reservoir.
Rock Hill consists of numerous neighborhoods, some of which were independent towns and communities at one time that were later annexed into Rock Hill city limits.
Rock Hill has a humid subtropical climate with four distinct seasons, characterized by hot humid summers and cool dry winters. The city itself is part of the USDA hardiness zone 7b with yearly minimum low temperature extremes between 5 °F (-15 °C) and 10 °F (-12 °C), typically occurring in the month of January. Precipitation does not vary greatly between seasons, but is highly dependent on moisture supplied from the Gulf of Mexico. July is the hottest month, with an average high temperature of 91 °F (33 °C) and an average low temperature of 71 °F (22 °C). The coldest month of the year is January, when the average high temperature is 51 °F (11 °C) and the average low temperature is 31 °F (-1 °C). The warmest temperature ever recorded in the city was 106 °F (41 °C) in 1983 and tied in 2007. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the city was -4 °F (-20 °C) in 1985.
|Climate data for Rock Hill, South Carolina|
|Average high °F (°C)||51
|Average low °F (°C)||31
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.73
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||2.0
|Average precipitation days||11.2||9.3||10.8||8.6||10.1||10.3||11.0||9.6||7.9||6.5||8.6||10.0||113.9|
|Average snowy days||1.0||0.6||0.3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.1||0.5||2.5|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||173.6||180.8||235.5||270.0||291.4||288.0||291.5||272.8||240.0||229.4||177.0||167.4||2,817.4|
|Source: Temperatures & precipitation, snowfall, sunshine|
As of the 2010 census, there were 66,154 people and 16,059 families residing in the city. The population density was 619.2 people per square kilometre (2,983.5/sq mi). There were 29,159 housing units at an average density of 252.4 per square kilometre (653.8/sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was 54.6% White, 38.3% Black, 1.7% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.7% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.7% of the population.
There were 25,966 households, out of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 18.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.2% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.04.
In the city, the population was spread out, with 24.4% under the age of 18, 14.7% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.9 years. For every 100 females, there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.3 males.
|Amida Industries, INC.|
|City of Rock Hill|
|Cytec Carbon Filters, LLC.|
|Langer Transport Corporation|
|Rock Hill Schools|
Rock Hill's economy was once dominated by the textile industry, and the restructuring of that industry in moving jobs overseas caused a decline in the local economy at one time. Over the past decade, Rock Hill has transitioned to a relatively strong manufacturing workforce.
The median income for a household in the city was $37,336, and the median income for a family was $45,697. Males had a median income of $32,156 versus $24,181 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,929. About 9.7% of families and 14.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.2% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over. The unemployment rate of the city was 8.7 percent and 11,874 of the 71,459 residents lived and worked in the city with a daytime population change of +5,208 as of March 2011. The city is transitioning to a retail and manufacturing economy, and has been working to attract national and global companies.
Three major natural disasters have struck the city.
On November 26, 1926 a destructive tornado struck downtown Rock Hill. It was the day after Thanksgiving, late in the season for such a violent storm. The "black as ink twister" took less than 10 minutes to change the face of the business section. The storm touched down in western York County, and entered Rock Hill from the west. Once in the town, the twister cut a path about three blocks wide, leaving 60 homes heavily damaged, the hospital roof removed, and cars flipped or crushed. By the end, the total damage for the whole town was $150,000. The tornado was responsible for one death and 12 injuries within Rock Hill.
Hurricane Hugo struck the city on the morning of September 22, 1989. The storm ripped through the city with sustained winds over 90 MPH, toppling massive oak and pine trees. Schools were closed for weeks because of widespread damage to roads and facilities. The total damage cost for the entire state of South Carolina was around $4.2 billion. The storm was a category 3 when it entered the county and was a category 2 as it left the county.
A complex series of low pressure systems moved across South Carolina from February 25-27 of 2004. Starting as a mix of snow and sleet, the storm became all snow as the low pulled off the Carolina coast. Cold arctic air settled over the Carolinas and dumped 22 inches of snow, with lightning, gusty winds, and some areas getting up to 28 inches. Sustained winds over 40 MPH across Rock Hill knocked out power, resulting in schools' closing for a week. It was the worst overall blizzard to hit the area.
On November 16, 2011 a deadly EF2 tornado struck about 8 miles south of Rock Hill leaving 3 people dead 5-6 people injured and 7-8 homes damaged some completely destroyed.
Public education in Rock Hill is administered by York County School District 3. The district operates twenty-seven schools in the city, including nineteen elementary schools, five middle schools, and three high schools. The district has a student enrollment of around 25,000.
A variety of religious schools serve the city of Rock Hill, including St. Anne's Catholic School and Westminster Catawba. The city is also home to two Charter schools: York Preparatory Academy, and Legion Athletics Academy.
There are three colleges in Rock Hill.
The most prominent institution is Winthrop University, founded in 1886 as a women's college. It is a thriving, public, co-ed four-year comprehensive university with an annual enrollment of about 6,000 students.
Clinton College is a historically black founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1894. Initially a two-year institution, the liberal arts college added four-year degree programs in 2013 in addition to the associate degree programs.
York Technical College opened in Rock Hill in 1964. This two-year community college offers associate degrees and provides continuing education for approximately 9,000 area residents annually and is growing each year.
Rock Hill is home to a daily newspaper, The Herald, which covers the area. Magazines include Rock Hill Magazine and YC (York County) Magazine (which covers the entire county).
OTS Media Group owns and operates WRHI (News/Sports, 100.1 FM and 1340 AM), WRHM-FM (Country/Sports FM 107.1) and WRHM-FM HD2/W281BE/W232AX (Contemporary Christian, FM 94.3 & 104.1). There are also WAVO (Standards, 1150 AM), NPR affiliate WNSC-FM (88.9 FM), Southside Baptist Church of Rock Hill Christian broadcast station, WRHJ-LP (93.1 FM) and York Technical College campus radio station WYTX-LP (98.5.FM) .
Rock Hill has several television stations: PBS affiliate WNSC-TV (Channel 30), CN2, a daily cable news program produced by Comporium Communications for York, Chester, and Lancaster counties; Fox-owned MyNetworkTV station WMYT-TV Channel 55, is licensed to Rock Hill, but serves the entire Charlotte market, while their studios are shared with sister station WJZY-TV in unincorporated Mecklenburg County, NC.
From locations across the country, Rock Hill is most easily accessible by interstate highway.
Rock Hill has two local airports. The Rock Hill/York County Airport is a municipal airport for the city of Rock Hill and serves non-commercial flights. The airport is located minutes from Rock Hill's Central business district. Also called Bryant Field, it was named for Robert E. Bryant, an aviator with two international records and an inductee in the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame (The name is no longer used for the airport because of confusion with Bryant Field (airport)). It is owned and operated by the City of Rock Hill, but York County is also represented on the Airport Commission.
Rock Hill has one regional transit system, The Charlotte Area Transit System that offers express bus service from downtown Rock Hill to Uptown Charlotte.
Rock Hill currently offers My Ride, an electric bus transit service
Rock Hill is considered to be a bicycle-friendly town with numerous bike routes located throughout the city. There are also designated bike lanes located along major roads such as Eden Terrace and Oakland Avenue.
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Rock Hill hosts several seasonal events. Each spring there is a festival called Come See Me Festival which brings more than 125,000 people to the city each year from across the country. Come-See-Me was voted as the number one South Carolina Festival and has been featured in Southern Living magazine. On Independence Day, Rock Hill hosts its annual Red, White, and Boom Festival. Over the first weekend of each October, the Arts Council of York County hosts the Blues & Jazz Festival, which includes a restaurant crawl through Old Town Rock Hill, and a day of blues & jazz events for children. In November, the Arts Council hosts the Underexposed Film Festival YC, bringing independently created short films from across the world to Rock Hill. A winter festival is held annually in the first week of December and is called ChristmasVille Rock Hill; it has been voted one of South Carolina's most visited attractions.
Seven museums are located in the city, and many more in the area.
Rock Hill is well known for a variety of well-maintained public parks and outdoor amenities. Among parks, there are also numerous hiking, kayaking and bicycling options both in and near the city of Rock Hill. The city itself is home to thirty-one parks, four recreational centers, one botanical garden, along with the many hiking and biking trails. The prominent parks and outdoor facilities are listed below.
There are also numerous parks located minutes from the city's downtown.
The city operates under a Council-Manager form of government. The governing body is composed of a mayor and six members. The mayor is determined through a nonpartisan, at-large election for a four-year term of office while council members are chosen through nonpartisan, single-member district elections. Council members are elected to staggered four-year terms of office.
The city council is a legislative body, establishing policies with recommendations from the city administrator. The city manager acts as the chief administrator of the council's policies implemented through the administrative control of city departments given to him by ordinance.
John Gettys (term began January 2018)
Rock Hill was named by Time's Money magazine as one of the top 50 places to live in the United States for 2018.
Eight Negro Demonstrators in a disciplinary cell at the York County Prison Camp accepted and ate second helpings Monday of the full meal given every third day to prisoners on bread and water.
They were students at Friendship College and called themselves the Friendship Nine. The members of this group were James Wells, William "Dub" Massey, Robert McCullough, John Gaines, William "Scoop" Williamson, Willie McLeod, Thomas Gaither, Clarence Graham, Charles Taylor and Mack Workman.[dead link]