The town of Greenwood was named around 1824 for the plantation of an early resident, John McGehee, Jr. McGehee’s wife Charlotte is credited with naming their 600-acre plantation “Green Wood.” While there are mixed opinions as to how Greenwood received the designation the “Emerald City,” most would agree that it has something to do with the green landscape that is so cherished by the local community.
The City of Greenwood, the county seat of Greenwood County, was chartered in 1857 and is today the seventeenth largest City in South Carolina with a 2006 Census estimated population of 22,407. The 2006 Census estimates the population for all of Greenwood County at 68,213. Greenwood is economic center of the Upper Savannah Region. Upper Savannah is comprised of Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Abbeville, Edgefield, and Saluda Counties of South Carolina. The 2006 Census estimates the regional population at 219,068.
Two major highways access Greenwood. US Highway 25 provides a four-lane northern access to Greenville in Upstate South Carolina and a two lane southern access to Augusta, Georgia. State Highway 72 provides a four-lane eastern access to Interstate 26 and a four-lane western access (under construction) to Athens, Georgia. Highway 72 ultimately connects with Atlanta, Georgia. Greenwood is also provided rail access by CSX. Click here to download a regional map.
The history of Greenwood evolved around the development of the railroad. At one time, nine railroad tracks crossed through “Uptown Greenwood,” Greenwood’s central business district. Greenwood got its first railroad, the Greenville & Columbia, in 1852 as an effort to locate the first track in Upstate South Carolina. Slowly by the 1930s and 40s, Greenwood became one of South Carolina’s leading rail centers. With the development of the automobile in the early 1900’s, the importance of rail for daily travel declined. Efforts began in the 1930’s to seek the removal of the rail system from Uptown Greenwood. It was not until 1982 when the final train came down the center of Main Street into Uptown Greenwood.
The rise of textile manufacturing in the New South altered the economy and society of the region. With the rail infrastructure in place in Greenwood, the cotton industry flourished in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. The first cotton mill in Greenwood opened in 1890. In 1908, James C. Self became president of Greenwood Cotton Mill and built one of the largest privately-held companies in the industry. Over time, Greenwood Mills would grow into a110-year-old family-owned company with textile plants in South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. In fact by 1955, Greenwood Mills included five plants and employed about 6,000. Abney Mills, also based in Greenwood, spread its production plants across the upstate.
In 1933, at the depth of the Depression, Congress established the Public Works Administration to finance construction projects as a means of combating unemployment. Greenwood County filed an application for funds to build a dam and power plant on the Saluda River. The project would provide employment for the jobless and would generate cheap electricity for local residents. Greenwood County acquired more than 250 parcels of land in the lake basin, an area cleared of heavy timber by crews of the Civilian Conservation Corps, another New Deal agency. The county finance board also purchased rights of way for transmission lines to distribute electricity to Greenwood, Ninety Six, Clinton, Laurens and Newberry. In mid-August 1940, the lake approached capacity. Today, Lake Greenwood provides extensive recreational opportunities such as boating, fishing and water sports. In addition, the construction of Lake Greenwood has ensured an adequate water supply for a growing population and new industry.
Diversification of Industry
Since 1950, Greenwood County has experienced diversified industrial growth with construction of new factories by major corporations such as Solutia, Velux, Fuji Film, Capsugel and Carolina Pride. Greenwood also remains home to a unique flower and vegetable mail order business, the George W. Park Seed Company, whose research and development division is on the cutting edge of science and technology, including experimentation aboard the space shuttle. Greenwood is also home to the Greenwood Genetics Center and the South Carolina Biotechnology Incubation Program.
Greenwood has also seen growth from the location of retirees to the area. Wesley Commons Retirement Community is a master planned, full-service continuing care retirement community located on 130 beautiful wooded acres within the city limits. Greenwood is also home to a National Health Care long-term healthcare facility. Numerous new communities have developed around Lake Greenwood including Grand Harbor, Harborside, Palmetto Crossing, Stoney Point, and Summerpointe. Lake Greenwood offers a peaceful refuge in which to enjoy a more leisurely time in your life.
Greenwood is home to two important secondary education facilities. Lander University has provided educational and cultural opportunities since its founding in 1872 as Williamston Female College in Williamston, S.C. The college moved to Greenwood, in 1904 and was renamed Lander in honor of its founder, Samuel Lander. Lander is now a coeducational, state-assisted university. Lander is situated on a wooded site of approximately 100 acres in the center of the City limits. Enrollment is approximately 3,000 with a student body representing 30 states and 19 foreign countries. Piedmont Technical College was established in 1966 to serve Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry, Saluda and surrounding counties. The College’s main campus is located in Greenwood County. PTC serves approximately 4,500 students.
Greenwood offers a vibrant visual and performing arts community for children and families. Greenwood Lander Performing Arts (GLPA) each year brings some of the world’s most talented musicians, dancers, singers and actors to the stage of the Lander Cultural Center Auditorium. The emerging Emerald Triangle in Uptown Greenwood is a nine acre hub where a new creative economy is emerging. The Emerald Triangle is home to the Arts Center at the Federal Building, the Greenwood Community Theatre, and the Greenwood Museum.
- Health Care
- Self Regional Healthcare began as Self Memorial Hospital in 1951 and was built to be one of the most advanced hospitals in the country. Local business leader and philanthropist James C. Self personally oversaw the construction and recruited top physicians from across the country. Today, Self Regional Healthcare’s services now include the area’s only Heart Center, Women’s Center, Cancer Center, Rehabilitation Center (offering stroke, cardiac, and pulmonary rehabilitation), Vascular Center, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and neurosurgery, neurology, gastrointestinal and orthopedic services.
Stepping outside the walls of Self Regional Healthcare, Greenwood has much more to present residents in the medical arena. There are dozens of physicians and practices in such areas as obstetrics and gynecology, sports medicine, neurology, plastic surgery, psychiatry, family medicine, internal medicine, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, infertility, radiology, and more.
Designed solely for the provision of specialized rehabilitative care, Greenwood Regional Rehabilitation Hospital is the only freestanding acute rehabilitation hospital in Greenwood. The facility’s unique design fosters a comfortable and responsive environment for patients. The hospital provides rehabilitative services for patients with functional deficits as a result of debilitating illnesses, or injuries. Through inpatient rehabilitation programs, patients recover quickly and return home with a renewed sense of self-sufficiency.