Greenville (; locally ) is the seat of Greenville County in upstate South Carolina, United States, with a metropolitan population of 842,853 as of 2012 and a combined statistical area population of 1,438,550 as of 2013, according to GSA Business Market Facts. It is the sixth largest municipality and the fastest growing urban area in the state. It is the largest city in the Greenville metropolitan area, and the largest Metropolitan Statistical Area in South Carolina.
Greenville is the largest city in the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson Combined Statistical Area (CSA) which makes it the largest CSA in the state of South Carolina. The CSA, an 8-county region of northwestern South Carolina, is known as "The Upstate". Greenville is located approximately halfway between Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina along Interstate 85, and its metropolitan area also includes Interstates 185 and 385.
Greenville has gained recognition in various national publications like CNN Money, listing Greenville as one of the "Top 10 Fastest Growing Cities in the U.S." Bloomberg named Greenville the 3rd Strongest Job Market, 2010; and Forbes named Greenville the 13th Best City for Young Professionals. Additionally, the state of South Carolina has been ranked within the top 10 fastest growing states and economies by the U.S. Commerce Department.
The colony of South Carolina was founded in 1663 by King Charles II, who split the land and gave it to eight nobles. After mismanagement of the colony, the area was reclaimed by the English Crown. The area was part of the Cherokee Nation's protected grounds after the Treaty of 1763, which ended the French and Indian War. No White man was allowed to enter, though some families already had settled just within the boundary, and White traders regularly crossed the area. The first White man to settle permanently in the area was Richard Pearis; he married a Cherokee and was given several tracts of land by the tribe. The City of Greenville and Paris Mountain (named after Pearis), are on part of that land. During the American Revolution, the Cherokee (and Pearis) sided with the British. After a campaign in 1776, the Cherokee agreed to the Treaty of DeWitt's Corner, ceding territory that includes present-day Greenville County to South Carolina.
Greenville was originally called Pleasantburg before an 1831 name change. Greenville County was created in 1786 from Spartanburg District (now Spartanburg County), but was called Greenville District from 1800 until 1868. Greenville may have been named for American Revolutionary General Nathanael Greene, or perhaps for an early resident, Isaac Green.>. Greenville is the mother district to Pendleton District (now Anderson County), Pickens District (now Pickens County) and Oconee District (now Oconee County).
In February, 1869, Greenville's Town Charter was amended by the S. C. General Assembly establishing Greenville, the town, as a City.
In 1917, when Greenville was known as the "Textile Center of the World," Old Textile Hall was designed by the J. E. Sirrine Company as the first exposition facility in the Southeast for textile products and machinery. Textile Hall also served as a civic auditorium. The building was listed on National Register in 1980 before being demolished in 1992.
Greenville served as a training camp center for Army recruits during World War I. This eventually fostered the development of Donaldson Air Force Base, built during World War II, which was very important to the economy of the City of Greenville. Donaldson served as a military base until the early 1960s, when it was returned to the City of Greenville. The former air base has been developed into a business park. It contains military-style barracks which are used now by businesses.
Until the late 1960s, blacks in the area were subject to segregationist restrictions; for example, they were limited to the back of city buses, were not permitted to stay in hotels or motels for whites, had to sit in the balcony of movie theaters, and were not permitted to use the public library, which partially motivated the activism of Jesse Jackson. Jackson, working through the NAACP, organized a sit-in at Greenville's F.W. Woolworth "five and dime" store, and quickly emerged as a civil rights leader. On August 9, 1960, a sit-in at the S. H. Kress store that eventually led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision Peterson v. Greenville (1963), which ruled that private citizens must ignore local segregation ordinances because they violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.