Georgetown is the third oldest city in the U. S. state of South Carolina and the county seat of Georgetown County. Located on Winyah Bay at the confluence of the Great Pee Dee River, Waccamaw River, and Sampit River, Georgetown is the second largest seaport in South Carolina, handling over 960,000 tons of materials a year.
Georgetown is located at (33. 367434, -79. 293807).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 7. 2 square miles (18. 6 km²), of which, 6. 5 square miles (16. 9 km²) of it is land and 0. 6 square miles (1. 6 km²) of it (8. 79%) is water.
Winyah Bay was formed from a Submergent or drowned coastline, ie. the original rivers had a lower base line, but either the ocean rose or the land sank, changing the landform and making a good location for a harbour. The rising of the ocean may be due to melting of glacial ice at the end of the ice age.
As of the census of 2000, there were 8,950 people, 3,411 households, and 2,305 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,368. 1 people per square mile (528. 4/km²). There were 3,856 housing units at an average density of 589. 4/sq mi (227. 6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 57. 03% African American, 40. 99% White, 0. 12% Native American, 0. 31% Asian, 0. 04% Pacific Islander, 0. 84% from other races, and 0. 66% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1. 88% of the population.
There were 3,411 households out of which 32. 8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38. 0% were married couples living together, 25. 1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32. 4% were non-families. 28. 9% of all households were made up of individuals and 12. 9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2. 55 and the average family size was 3. 14.
In the city the population was spread out with 28. 6% under the age of 18, 8. 8% from 18 to 24, 25. 2% from 25 to 44, 21. 0% from 45 to 64, and 16. 4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 81. 9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 75. 1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $29,424, and the median income for a family was $34,747. Males had a median income of $27,545 versus $19,000 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,568. About 19. 9% of families and 24. 1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34. 9% of those under age 18 and 16. 9% of those age 65 or over.
Georgetown occupies a unique place in American history. Some historians claim that American history began here in 1526 with the earliest settlement in North America by Europeans with African slaves. It is believed that in that year the Spanish, under Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón, founded a colony on Waccamaw Neck called San Miguel de Guadalupe. The colony failed for multiple reasons, including a fever epidemic and a revolt of African slaves who fled to join the Cofitachiqui Indians in the area. Having failed as farmers, the surviving Spanish sailed to the Spice Islands of the Maritine Southeast Asia on a ship built from local cypress and oak trees.
After settling Charles Town in 1670, the English established trade with the Indians, and the trading posts in the outlying areas quickly became settlements.
By 1721 the petition for a new parish, Prince George, Winyah, on the Black River was granted. In 1734, Prince George, Winyah was divided and the newly created Prince Frederick Parish came to occupy the church at Black River. Prince George Parish, Winyah then encompassed the new town of Georgetown on the Sampit River.
In 1729, Elisha Screven laid the plan for Georgetown and developed the city in a four-by-eight block grid. Referred to as the “Historic District”, the original grid city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and still bears the original street names, lot numbers, and many of the original homes.
The Indian trade declined soon after Georgetown was established and indigo became the cash crop with rice as a secondary crop. Agricultural profits were so great between 1735-1775 that in 1757 the Winyah Indigo Society, whose members paid dues in indigo, opened and maintained the first public school between Charles Town and Wilmington.
Georgetown played a large part in the American Revolution by sending both Thomas Lynch, Sr. and Thomas Lynch, Jr. to sign the Declaration of Independence. During the final years of the conflict, Georgetown was the important port for supplying General Nathanael Greene's army. Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox) led many guerrilla actions in this vicinity.
Following the American Revolution, rice became the staple crop. It required the low land along the rivers for cultivation and thus the rice plantations were established around Georgetown on its five rivers. By 1840, the Georgetown District (later County) produced nearly one-half of the total rice crop of the United States, and became the largest rice-exporting port in the world.
This wealth produced an aristocratic way of life marked by stately plantation manor houses, elegant furniture, generous hospitality and a leisured lifestyle for a select few which lasted until 1860, and the profits from Georgetown's rice trade flooded into nearby Charleston, where they stoked a thriving mercantile and factoring economy. Indeed, the largest American slaveholder, Joshua John Ward, was in Georgetown, ultimately owning over 1,000 slaves on several plantations. Many of the old plantations are still standing today, including Mansfield Plantation on the banks of the Black River, while Ward's main Brookgreen Plantation is now the center and namesake of the Brookgreen Gardens park.
The town's thriving economy long attracted settlers from elsewhere, including a number of planters and shipowners who emigrated to Georgetown from Virginia. These included the Shackelford family, whose representative John Shackelford moved to Georgetown in the eighteenth century after serving in the Virginia forces of the Continental Army. His descendants became prominent planters, lawyers, judges and Georgetown and Charleston businessmen.
Georgetown and Georgetown County suffered terribly during Reconstruction (1865–1876). The rice crops of 1866–88 were failures due to disrupted labor patterns (viz, the freeing of the slaves), lack of capital and inclement weather. Rice continued to be grown commercially until about 1910, but never on the scale or with the profits attained before 1860.
After reconstruction ended, Georgetown turned to wood products for its economic survival and by 1900 there were several lumber mills in operation on the Sampit River. The largest was the Atlantic Coast Lumber Company which provided a much needed boost to the local economy.
As the twentieth century dawned, Georgetown, under the leadership of Mayor William Doyle Morgan, modernized. The city added electricity, telephone service, sewer facilities, rail connections, some paved streets and sidewalks, new banks, a thriving port, a new public school and a handsome Post Office and Customs House building.
Like most cities, Georgetown suffered great economic deprivation during the Great Depression. The Atlantic Coast Lumber Company went bankrupt early in the depression, putting almost everyone out of work. In 1936 help arrived. In that year the Southern Kraft Division of International Paper opened a mill which by 1944 was the largest in the world.
A major disaster struck Georgetown in September 1989: Hurricane Hugo struck south of Georgetown, but with extremely hard winds and intense storm surge that damaged Georgetown along with nearby areas. Georgetown was under Hugo's northern eyewall, and that meant the winds here would be more severe and damaging than in Charleston, which was in the hurricane's weak corridor.
In recent years, the economy has become more diversified. A steel mill has located here, tourism has become a booming business and many retirees have chosen to settle here in this area of lovely beaches, plantations developed as communities, and pleasant climate.
Georgetown is home to a number of historical churches including Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church, the oldest religious body in Georgetown. In addition, the Hebrew Cemetery of Georgetown dates to the 1760s and the town is home to one synagogue, Temple Beth Elohim.
Georgetown has featured the visitation of many prominent people throughout the nearly 277 years of cities existence. George Washington visited Clifton Plantation and addressed the townspeople in 1791. President James Monroe was entertained in 1821 at Prospect Hill (now Arcadia) on Waccamaw with a real red carpet rolled out to the river. Theodosia Burr made her home at the Oaks Plantation (now part of Brookgreen Gardens) after her marriage to Joseph Alston in 1801 and departed from Georgetown on her ill-fated voyage in 1812. Brookgreen was also the boyhood home of one of America's most famous painters, Washington Allston. Joel R. Poinsett lived at White House Plantation on the Black River. After retiring from government service, Poinsett entertained President Martin Van Buren at his home. President Grover Cleveland, as guest of the Annandale Gun Club, came for duck hunting and was feted by the citizens in 1894 and 1896. Bernard Baruch, America's elder statesman, entertained many notables at Hobcaw Barony, his home for many years. Among those were President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, General Mark Clark and General Omar Bradley.
Today, the Historic District of Georgetown contains more than fifty homes, public buildings and sites which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
This city information was provided courtesy of Wikipedia