Anderson is a city in and the county seat of Anderson County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 26,686 at the 2010 census, and the city was the center of an urbanized area of 75,702. It is one of the principal cities in the Greenville-Mauldin-Anderson Metropolitan Statistical Area, contiguous with Anderson County, which had a population of 187,126 at the 2010 census. It is further included in the larger Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson, South Carolina Combined Statistical Area, with a total population of 1,266,995, at the 2010 census. Anderson is just off Interstate 85 and is from Atlanta and from Charlotte.
Anderson is the smallest of the three primary cities that makes up the Upstate region and is nicknamed "The Electric City" and "The Friendliest City in South Carolina". Anderson's spirit and quality of life have earned national recognition as Anderson County was named an "All-America City" in 2000.
Anderson is the home of Anderson University, a selective private comprehensive university of approximately 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
Anderson was named for a Revolutionary War hero, Robert Anderson. General Anderson and Andrew Pickens surveyed the land in the area. The Cherokees lived in the area until 1777. The land was then ceded to South Carolina by the Cherokee in a treaty negotiated by Pickens. This area was then called the Pendleton District for official purposes. In 1826, the Pendleton District was divided into two districts — Anderson and Pickens. Because the town of Pendleton was at the top of the county, too close to the Pickens border, a new courthouse was built at the center of the county. A small town, named Anderson Courthouse, grew up around the courthouse, and this community eventually became known as Anderson. Anderson was incorporated by an act of the state legislature, December 19, 1833. The original courthouse was built of logs, but 10 years later, a courthouse made of bricks was erected to replace it. A still-standing Anderson County Courthouse, built in 1898, now faces the current courthouse and is built on the site of the original.
The settlers of this area were mostly Scots-Irish who came from Virginia and Pennsylvania to farm. Farmers grew corn and raised hogs. Much later, cotton became the cash crop of the area. By the late 19th century, the Anderson area was filled with numerous textile mills. Due to the innovation of Anderson engineer William Whitner, electricity could be conducted by wire to mills throughout the county. Anderson was the first city in the United States to have a continuous supply of electric power, which was supplied by a water mill located in the high shoals area of the Rocky River in Anderson County. The first cotton gin in the world to be operated by electricity was built in Anderson County in 1897. Several areas of Anderson are named in Whitner's honor, including a downtown street. Anderson became known as "The Electric City", a nickname that it still holds today.
On November 14, 1931, the famous aviator Amelia Earhart flew into the Anderson airport in her Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogyro, attracting over 1,000 spectators. Mayor G.T. McGregor and other city leaders met her at the airport. She was piloting the Autogyro on a nationwide tour promoting Beech-Nut products. Earhart landed at the original Anderson County Airport, founded in 1928 on the highest land Anderson County owned. This "airport," a mere grass strip originally planned as an emergency landing field, later became a joint city-county facility where planes delivering air mail landed. The field functioned until the land for the current airport on Highway 24 was purchased and developed in the mid-1930s.
Anderson was the site of some of the 2008 filming of Leatherheads.
The Anderson College Historic District, Anderson Downtown Historic District, Anderson Historic District, Caldwell-Johnson-Morris Cottage, Denver Downs Farmstead, Kennedy Street School, North Anderson Historic District, Dr. Samuel Marshall Orr House, and Ralph John Ramer House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.