Spartanburg is the largest city in and the county seat of Spartanburg County, South Carolina, United States, and the twelfth largest city by population in the state. Spartanburg has a municipal population of 37,013 and an urban population of 180,786 at the 2010 census. The Spartanburg Metropolitan Statistical Area, corresponding to Spartanburg County and Union County had a population of 316,997 as of the 2012 census estimate and Revised Delineations of Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
Spartanburg is the second-largest city in the greater Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson Combined Statistical Area which had a population of 1,266,995 at the 2010 census. It is part of a 10-county region of northwestern South Carolina known as "The Upstate," and is located northwest of Columbia, west of Charlotte, North Carolina, and about northeast of Atlanta, Georgia.
This region of the Carolina Piedmont was for centuries a cherished hunting ground of the Catawba and Cherokee tribes, which occupied land east and west of this area, respectively. This distant heritage can be glimpsed in some of the natural features.
Early European settlers to this area included French fur trappers, English woodsmen, and Scots-Irish farmers. Few remnants survive from these early pioneering days, but traces can be found in the more rural areas of the county.
First established in the 1780s as a courthouse village, Spartanburg may have been named for the Spartan regiment of the South Carolina militia. The city was incorporated in 1831, at the time of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Cowpens, a pivotal fight of the American Revolution that took place only a few miles away. The city’s streets and architectural record reflect the changes of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Cotton mills have abounded in the Spartanburg area since 1816, earning Spartanburg the reputation as the "Lowell of the South." Although there were few mills in the area before the Civil War, technological advances, northern capital, and out-migration from the poor farms that made white labor available, created a wave of postbellum mill development here and in much of the Piedmont South. Additionally, the abundant streams and rivers in the area are just beginning their descent towards the lower-lying Midlands region. In many places, these waterways descend abruptly, providing a source for plentiful waterpower. Cotton mills were built along these rivers to harness this power, and so began the region’s servitude to King Cotton. These mills, their owners and their laborers dominated the politics and economy of the region for nearly a century. Although nearly all abandoned, many mills remain along the riverbanks, the Piedmont equivalent of Gothic ruins.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, one of the sixteen divisional cantonments for the training of National Guard troops was Camp Wadsworth, which is located in the vicinity of Westgate Mall. Large numbers of New York National Guardsmen trained there in addition to many southern troops. During World War II, Camp Croft south of the city trained Army recruits. This is now a South Carolina state park with the same name. Some portions of the park contain the original quonset huts (1/2 metal tube structures).
The American Legion Building, Anderson's Mill, Arcadia Mill No. 2, Bon Haven, Central Methodist Church, Church of the Advent, Cleveland Law Range, Converse College Historic District, Converse Heights Historic District, Drayton Mill, Bishop William Wallace Duncan House, Frank Evans High School, Evans-Russell House, Evins-Bivings House, Foster's Tavern, Fremont School, Golightly-Dean House, Hampton Heights Historic District, Hotel Oregon, Montgomery Building, Walter Scott Montgomery House, Daniel Morgan Monument, Nicholls-Crook House, Palmetto Theater, Schuyler Apartments, Jammie Seay House, Spartanburg Historic District, Walker Hall, Walnut Grove Plantation, Wofford College Historic District, and Mary H. Wright Elementary School are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.