Florence is a city located in Florence County, South Carolina, United States. The city is the county seat of the Florence County and the hub of the Metropolitan Statistical Area. The area forms the core of the historical "Pee Dee" region of South Carolina, which includes the eight counties of northeastern South Carolina, along with sections of southeastern North Carolina. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population at 37,326, representing an increase of .7 percent.
In 1965, Florence was named an All-American City, presented by the National Civic League. The city was founded as a railroad hub and became the junction of three major railroad systems, including the Wilmington and Manchester, the Northeastern, and the Cheraw and Darlington. , the city retains its status as a major hub, both for industry and infrastructure, while establishing itself as a regional center for business, medicine, culture and finance.
The City of Florence was chartered in 1871 and incorporated in 1890 following the 1888 creation of Florence County. Prior to its charter, the city was part of one of the original townships laid out by the Lords Proprieters in 1719. The area was gradually settled through the late and early 20th century. Early settlers practiced subsistence farming and produced indigo, cotton, naval stores and timber, which were shipped down the Pee Dee River to the port at Georgetown and exported. In the mid-19th century two intersecting railroads were built, The Wilmington and Manchester, and the Northeastern. Gen. W. W. Harllee, the president of the W & M road built his home at the junction, and named the community Florence, after his daughter.
American Civil War
During the Civil War the town was an important supply and railroad repair center for the Confederacy, and the site of the Florence Stockade, which held between 12,000 and 18,000 Union prisoners of war. Over 2800 of the prisoners died of disease and the burial ground adjacent to the prison became the Florence National Cemetery after the war.
Early 20th century
After the war, Florence grew and prospered, using the railroad to supply its cotton, timber, and by the turn of the century, tobacco. During the 20th century the economy of Florence came to rely heavily on the healthcare industry, driven by two major hospitals and a number of pharmaceutical plants. Industry grew, especially after World War II, when Florence became increasingly known for textiles, pharmaceuticals, paper, manufacturing and in addition to agricultural products.