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About this collection

This collection of photographs was donated to Richland Library in 1987 in honor of the bicentennial of the founding of the city of Columbia in 1786. The collection was created from copies of photographs, programs and lithographs of historic images of Columbia, S.C. Due to copyright restrictions, some images in the Bicentennial Collection are not available online. The entire collection is available for viewing in the Walker Local and History Center on the first level of the Main Library.


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Other anniversaries of Columbia

Additional materials published to commemorate other anniversaries of the city of Columbia can be found in other Richland Library digital collections. Click the links below to view them:

Highlights of Columbia's history

This text is quoted from Columbia's Bicentennial Celebration: 1786-1986, a commemorative pamphlet about the year-long bicentennial celebration of 1986.

On March 22, 1786, legislation was ratified in the South Carolina General Assembly creating Columbia as the state's capital city on 650 acres near Friday's Ferry on the Congaree River occupied by Thomas and James Taylor's plantation. This climaxed a long effort by upstate politicians to move the capital from Charleston to the center of the state.

During the next 200 years Columbia experienced a steady rise into the standing it now enjoys as a significant center of government, business, industry, and education. Following are some of the highlights and landmarks through those two centuries:

  • President George Washington visited Columbia in 1791.
  • In 1801 the University of South Carolina was founded as the nation's first fully-state-supported College.
  • French General Marquis de Lafayette visited Columbia in March, 1825.
  • The first bridge across the Congaree River was completed in 1827.
  • On June 20, 1842, the first passenger train arrived in Columbia from Charleston.
  • Construction of the State Capitol Building was begun on December 15, 1851. Completion of the Statehouse was authorized in 1899.
  • Columbia College was founded in 1854.
  • In 1860 the Articles of Secession were initiated here, leading to the beginning of the Civil War.
  • On February 17, 1865, General Sherman's Union Army invaded Columbia, and the city was virtually destroyed by fire.
  • Benedict College was founded in 1870.
  • Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, spent his boyhood here in the 1870's.
  • Allen University opened its doors in 1880.
  • The State Newspaper began publication on February 2, 1891.
  • The University of South Carolina inaugurated its football series with Clemson as a feature of the State Fair on November 13, 1896.
  • A major military training base, Fort Jackson, was established in 1917.
  • In 1930 the largest earthen dam was completed on the Saluda River, creating Lake Murray as a source of hydroelectric power for South Carolina Electric and Gas Company.
  • Columbia's first broadcasting station, WGTB-radio (predecessor of WIS) went on the air on July 10, 1930.
  • An international dance craze, "The Big Apple," was originated in the late 1930's at a night club for Blacks on Park Street. It was the forerunner of jitterbug dancing of the 1940's.
  • Columbia Municipal Stadium, which later became Carolina Stadium, was completed in 1934.
  • Columbia received the All-American City award in 1951 and again in 1964.
  • Columbia Metropolitan Airport's new terminal was completed May 1, 1965.
  • Carolina Coliseum was completed in 1968.
  • Riverbanks Zoo opened its gates for the first time on April 25, 1974.
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