Old Images of Columbia, South Carolina

Categorised as South Carolina
old photo of the ruins of Columbia South Carolina in February 1865
Februrary 17-18, 1865, saw the capture of Columbia by the Union forces under Major General William T. Sherman during the American Civil War. Fires broke out, though the blame was never established, and much of the city was destroyed. From the archives of the DeGolyer Library at the Southern Methodist University, digitally uploaded to Flikr.

Glimpse history through fascinating old images of Columbia, South Carolina.

Old photo of the New South Carolina State House in 1865
Old photo of the New South Carolina State House in 1865. The building was still under construction when it was damaged by artillery fire during the capture of Columbia in the American Civil War. From the archives of DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University, digitally uploaded to Flikr.
Old photo of the State House Columbia South Carolina 1893
An old photo of the State House at Columbia, South Carolina, which was included in the “Proceedings of the Convention … With papers prepared by the Governors of Arkansas, Alabama, South Carolina and Virginia in regard to the physical resources of their respective States [Illustrated.]” Published 1893.
Old photo of Main Street Columbia South Carolina, at the start of the 20th Century
Old photo of Main Street Columbia South Carolina, at the start of the 20th Century. From the archives of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.
Closeup of an Old photo of Main Street Columbia South Carolina, at the start of the 20th Century
Blurry closeup of an old photo of Main Street Columbia South Carolina, at the start of the 20th Century. From the archives of the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.
Old photo of Columbia, South Carolina, taken around 1909
Old photo of Columbia, South Carolina, taken around 1909. From the Haines Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
Old photo of the British Day Celebration held on December 7, 1918, in Columbia, South Carolina.
Old photo of the British Day Celebration held on December 7, 1918, in Columbia, South Carolina. From the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

From ‘A view of South Carolina, as respects her natural and civil concerns’ by John Drayton, published in 1802:

“Columbia is the feat of government of this state; and its situation is just below the confluence of Broad and Saluda rivers, on the eastern side of the Congaree river. It was so called by act of assembly in 1786; at which time measures were taken for the first settling of the town and the departments of government met there in December, 1789; and continue to do so at stated periods.

This town is laid off by a regular plan; its streets intersecting each other at right angles. The buildings are erected about three quarters of a mile from the Congaree, on a ridge of high land, near three hundred feet above the level of that river; from which a delightful prospect is presented. Here the state-house, situated on a beautiful eminence, is to be seen, at the distance of many miles, from various parts of the country.

And soon, we hope, the South Carolina College will rise an ornament to the town; respectable from its establishment, but still more from the learning and friendship, which a national institution, like this, cannot fail to promote among the youth from all parts of this state; an object, particularly desirable to all true lovers of their country.

Some successful attempts have been made, at Columbia, in raising grapes and making wine; and a few casks of this grateful liquor have been there made by Mr. Benjamin Waring; whose flavor was agreeable, and not unlike Sicily wine. To this gentleman, also, the public is indebted for the erection of an oil mill in Columbia, by which, from a bushel of cotton feed, he extracts half a gallon of oil.

And to Mr. Stephen Brown, also, the public are obliged, for the establishment of a valuable rope walk, just without the skirts of the town; which is not only a great convenience to the interior of this state, but also much promotes the cultivation of hemp, as a new object of agriculture.

Columbia consists of about eighty or one hundred dwelling houses; and during the sittings of the legislature, assumes a gay appearance.

At other times a calmness and quiet reigns, far different to the noise and bustle of a legislative session; or to that of a large trading city. This tranquility is, however, often roused into active business, by the arrival
of loaded waggons from the upper country; and were a suitable bridge thrown across the Congaree, just below Granby, there is little doubt, but the trade of this town would thereby experience a very happy increase.”

Columbia Then & Now

This video shows a series of old photos of Columbia SC, each followed by a photo of what the same location looked like in 2012.

Columbia, South Carolina…then and now – Bruce Willhoit on YouTube

Columbia SC in 1966

In a clip from a 1966 SCETV Production, ‘Faces of Columbia’, we learnt that the $250 million of retail sales in Columbia’s businesses each year was higher than anywhere else in the state at that time.

People were filmed as they walked, had a rest break, ate in the street, shopped, or made phonecalls from call boxes.

A Glimpse of Columbia, South Carolina from 1966 – SouthCarolinaETV on YouTube

This is rare vintage film of Columbia SC filmed back in 1966.

1966 Columbia, South Carolina ~ A Look Back ~ Part 1 – mrhistorysc

Columbia in 1986

1986 saw the Bicentennial Celebrations of Columbia being chosen as the state capital, thanks to its central location in the state.

Along with pamphlets and activities, this video was made.

It includes lots of historic photos and archive film taken in and around the city across many decades, as well as costumed readings of old letters and memoirs, covering some of the uncomfortable parts of the city’s history.

There are also lots of 80s clips of local businesses, buildings and people.

Columbia, South Carolina ~ Memories Of A City ~ 1986 Bicentennial Celebration – mrhistorysc on YouTube

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