Rock Hill, South Carolina

Rock Hill, South Carolina
Rock Hill
—  City  —
City of Rock Hill

Nickname(s): The gateway to South Carolina
Motto: Shop here. Stay here. Dine here.
Location of Rock Hill in South Carolina
Coordinates: 34°56′17″N 81°1′34″W / 34.93806°N 81.02611°W / 34.93806; -81.02611Coordinates: 34°56′17″N 81°1′34″W / 34.93806°N 81.02611°W / 34.93806; -81.02611
Country United States
State South Carolina
County York
Founded 1852
Incorporated 1892
 – Mayor Doug Echols (D)
 – Total 35.88 sq mi (92.9 km2)
 – Land 35.72 sq mi (92.5 km2)
 – Water 0.16 sq mi (0.4 km2)  0.4%
Elevation 676 ft (206 m)
Population (2010)
 – Total 66,154
 – Density 1,843.6/sq mi (711.8/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 – Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 29730-29734
Area code(s) 803
FIPS code 45-61405[1]
GNIS feature ID 1250417[2]

Rock Hill is the largest city in York County, South Carolina and the fifth-largest city in the state. It is also the third-largest city of the Charlotte metropolitan area, behind Charlotte and Concord, North Carolina. The population was 66,154 as of the 2010 census.[3] Rock Hill has undergone rapid growth between 2000 and 2010 with a 33% growth rate. The forecast population for 2020 is near 100,000 residents (according to Rock Hill Economic Development).[citation needed] Rock Hill is located approximately 25 miles (40 km) south of Charlotte and approximately 70 miles (110 km) north of Columbia.



Historic U.S. Post office in Rock Hill

Indigenous peoples lived in the Piedmont for thousands of years. The historic Catawba Indian Nation lives near Rock Hill.

The European-American city was named for a flint hill of rock that was in the way of the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad, which was building a rail line from Charlotte to Columbia. Much of this rock was removed to make way for the railroad, which built a depot at the site that eventually became known as Rock Hill. The city dates its history back to April 17, 1852, the day the first Rock Hill Post Office opened, even though the town was not officially incorporated until 1870. Rock Hill celebrated its centennial in 1952 and its sesquicentennial in 2002.

Four unincorporated communities of York County were annexed to the city: Boyd Hill in the late 1940s, Ebenezer and Mexico in the 1960s, and Oakdale in the 1980s.

Civil Rights Movement

Rock Hill was the setting for two significant events in the civil rights movement. In February 1961, nine African-American men went to jail at the York County prison farm after staging a sit-in at a segregated McCrory's lunch counter in downtown Rock Hill. Their offense was reported to be "refusing to stop singing hymns during their morning devotions." The event gained nationwide attention because the men followed an untried strategy called "jail, no bail," which lessened the huge financial burden civil rights groups were facing as the sit-in movement spread across the South.[4] This event received widespread national news coverage, and the tactic was adopted by other civil rights groups. They became known as the Friendship Nine because eight of the nine men were students at Rock Hill's Friendship Junior College.[5]

Later that year, Rock Hill was the first stop in the Deep South for a group of 13 Freedom Riders, who boarded buses in Washington, D.C., and headed South to test the 1960 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court outlawing racial segregation in all interstate public facilities. When civil rights leader John Lewis and another man stepped off the bus at Rock Hill, they were beaten by a white mob. In 2002, Lewis, by then a U.S. congressman from Georgia, returned to Rock Hill, where he spoke at Winthrop University and was given the key to the city. On January 21, 2008, Rep. Lewis returned to Rock Hill again and spoke at the city's Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday observance. Mayor Doug Echols officially apologized to him on the city's behalf for the Freedom Riders' treatment in the city.

Civitas & the Gateway

The symbols of the city are the four Civitas statues, erected in 1991 at the Gateway corridor on Dave Lyle Boulevard.[citation needed] Each holds a disc that symbolizes the four drivers of the economy in the city (Gears of Industry, Flames of Knowledge, Stars of Inspiration, and Bolts of Energy). The Civitas statues are 22-foot-tall (6.7 m) structures made of bronze and created by the New York sculptor Audrey Flack. These were originally planned to be placed in Uptown Charlotte, but were offered to the city of Rock Hill. The Civitas complex was designed as a female version of Michelangelo’s David. The sculptor was inspired by the similarities in history between the cities of Rock Hill and Florence, Italy.

At the time of the commission of David, Florence was a city of 45,000 people whose once vibrant textile industry was slowly fading; the competition from their much larger neighbor Rome was affecting Florence’s growth. Rock Hill’s size and textile history was similar to Florence's when the Civitas was created. The sculpture reflects the spirit of Rock Hill’s textile heritage in the clothing and hair, which suggest billowing ribbons of material. That material transforms into wings, representing the textile history as the foundation to give wings to the city for growth.[6] In 1992, a fifth Civitas statue by Flack was placed at City Hall in downtown Rock Hill.

The Gateway intersection where the four Civitas statues stand is circular to symbolize unity, teamwork and togetherness. The columns that stand beside the Civitas were a gift to the city from First Union Corporation, and are regarded as one of the area’s most treasured historical artifacts. They represent Rock Hill’s commitment to preserve and enhance the history of the city.

Geography and climate

A general 5 inch snow in Rock Hill
A view of the Catawba River at River Park

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 43.04 square miles (111.5 km2), of which, 43.0 square miles (111 km2) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) of it (0.10%) is water.

Rock Hill is located along the Catawba River in the Piedmont of South Carolina. The city sits at an elevation of around 676 feet (206 m) above sea level. The city is located approximately 150 miles (240 km) from the Atlantic Ocean and 75 miles (121 km) from the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Rock Hill has a humid subtropical climate, characterized by humid summers and cool dry winters. Precipitation does not vary greatly between seasons. July is the hottest month, with an average high temperature of 91°F and an average low temperature of 71°F.[7] The coldest month of the year is January, when the average high temperature is 53°F and the average low temperature is 33°F.[7] The warmest temperature ever recorded in the city was 106°F in 1983 and tied in 2007.[8] The coldest temperature ever recorded in the city was -4°F in 1985.[9] While snow is not common in most southern cities, Rock Hill receives about 8-10" of total snow accumulation on average yearly.[citation needed]

Climate data for Rock Hill, South Carolina
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 53
Average low °F (°C) 33
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.73
Snowfall inches (cm) 2.0
Avg. precipitation days 11.2 9.3 10.8 8.6 10.1 10.3 11.0 9.6 7.9 6.5 8.6 10.0 113.9
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.4) 1.8 1.0 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 4.8
Sunshine hours 173.6 180.8 235.5 270.0 291.4 288.0 291.5 272.8 240.0 229.4 177.0 167.4 2,817.4
Source: Temperatures & precipitation,[7] snowfall,[citation needed] sunshine[citation needed]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1880 809
1890 2,744 239.2%
1900 5,485 99.9%
1910 7,216 31.6%
1920 8,809 22.1%
1930 11,322 28.5%
1940 15,009 32.6%
1950 24,502 63.2%
1960 29,404 20.0%
1970 33,846 15.1%
1980 35,327 4.4%
1990 41,643 17.9%
2000 49,765 19.5%
2010 66,154 32.9%
U.S. Decennial Census
Rock Hill City Hall


As of 2010, there were 69,210 people and 16,059 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,983.5 people per square mile (619.2/km²). There were 29,159 housing units at an average density of 653.8 per square mile (252.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 54.6% White, 38.3% Black, 1.7% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.7% from other races, and 2.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.7% of the population.

There were 25,966 households out of which 29.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.1% were married couples living together, 18.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.2% were non-families. 30.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 14.7% from 18 to 24, 28.5% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31.9 years. For every 100 females there were 85.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.3 males.


Rock Hill's economy was once dominated by the textile industry, but the restructuring of that industry in moving jobs overseas has caused a decline in the local economy. The median income for a household in the city was $37,336, and the median income for a family was $45,697. Males had a median income of $32,156 versus $24,181 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,929. About 9.7% of families and 14.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.2% of those under age 18 and 12.0% of those age 65 or over. The unemployment rate of the city was 8.7 percent and 11,874 of the 71,459 residents lived and worked in the city with a daytime population change of +5,208 as of March 2011.[10] The city is transitioning to a retail and manufacturing economy, and has been working to attract national and global companies.


The following table shows Rock Hill's crime rate in 6 crimes that Morgan Quitno uses in their calculations for "America's most dangerous cities" rankings, in comparison to 100,000 people. The statistics provided are not for the actual number of crimes committed, but for the number of crimes committed per capita.[11]

Crime Rock Hill (2009) per 100,000 people
Murder 5 7.2
Rape 27 38.8
Robbery 82 118.1
Assault 594 854.6
Burglary 578 831.6
Theft 2,352 3,383.9
Arson 10 14.4


The city of Rock Hill is a thriving residential community outside of Charlotte that has been recognized by awards for its outstanding schools, parks, and its southern hospitality. The city is a three-time award winner of America's Promise Alliance "100 Best Communities for Young People".[12] along with being a two-time "All-American City" award winner.

Natural disasters

Category 4 Hurricane Hugo in 1989

Three major natural disasters have struck the city.

1926 Rock Hill tornado

On November 26, 1926 a destructive tornado struck downtown Rock Hill. It was the day after Thanksgiving, rather late in the season for such a violent storm. The "black as ink twister" took less than 10 minutes to change the face of the business section. The storm touched down in western York County, and entered Rock Hill from the west. Once in the town, the twister cut a path about three blocks wide, leaving 60 homes heavily damaged, the hospital roof removed, and cars flipped or crushed. By the end, the total damage for the whole town was $150,000. The tornado was responsible for one death and 12 injuries within Rock Hill.

Hurricane Hugo

Hurricane Hugo struck the city on the morning of September 22, 1989. The storm ripped through the city with sustained winds over 90 MPH, toppling massive oak and pine trees. Schools were closed for weeks because of widespread damage to roads and facilities. The total damage cost for the entire state of South Carolina was around $4.2 billion. The storm was a category 3 when it entered the county and was a category 2 as it left the county.

2004 Blizzard

A complex series of low pressure systems moved across South Carolina from February 25–27 of 2004. Starting as a mix of snow and sleet, the storm became all snow as the low pulled off the Carolina coast. Cold arctic air settled over the Carolinas and dumped up to 24 inches of snow, with lightning. Sustained winds over 40 MPH across Rock Hill knocked out power, resulting in schools' closing for a week. It was the worst overall blizzard to hit the area.



Rock Hill has two local airports. The Rock Hill Municipal Airport is a municipal airport for the city of Rock Hill and serves non-commercial flights. The airport is located just minutes from Rock Hill's Central business district. Also called Bryant Field, it was named for Robert E. Bryant, an aviator with two international records and an inductee in the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame (The name is no longer used for the airport because of confusion with Bryant Field (airport)). It is owned and operated by the City of Rock Hill, but York County is also represented on the Airport Commission. The other local airport, the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, is one of the busiest airports in the United States and is located 20 miles from Rock Hill in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Bus (regional)

Rock Hill has one regional transit system, The Charlotte Area Transit System that offers express bus service from downtown Rock Hill to Manchester Village to Uptown Charlotte. They also offer a new bus route service from the York County Museum on Mount Gallant Road to Celanese Road to Chery Road to Uptown Charlotte.


Tillman Hall at Winthrop University in Rock Hill.

Compulsory education

Rock Hill is served by York County School District 3, which has twenty-seven total schools residing in Rock Hill, including seventeen elementary schools, five middle schools, and three high schools. The public high schools in Rock Hill include Rock Hill High School (first built high school in the city), Northwestern, and South Pointe (newest high school in the city. The public middle schools in Rock Hill are Saluda Trail Middle School, Castle Heights Middle School, Sullivan Middle School, Rawlinson Road Middle School, and (the newest) Dutchman Creek Middle School. The district has a student enrollment of around 25,000.[13][14] A variety of religious schools also serve the city of Rock Hill, including St. Anne's Catholic School, Trinity Christian School, and Westminster Catawba. The city is also home to York County's only Charter school, York Preparatory Academy.

Colleges and universities

There are three colleges within Rock Hill. The most prominent institution of higher learning in Rock Hill is Winthrop University, founded in 1886 as a women's college. It is a thriving, public, co-ed four-year liberal arts college with an annual enrollment of well over 7,000 students. Clinton Junior College is a historically black, two-year institution founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1894. It is now a community college for the city of Rock Hill and York County.[15] York Technical College opened in Rock Hill in 1964. This two-year community college offers associate degrees and provides continuing education for approximately 9,000 area residents annually and is growing each year.[16]


Printed media

Rock Hill is home to a daily newspaper, The Herald, which covers the area. Magazines include Rock Hill Magazine and YC (York County) Magazine (which covers the entire county).

Radio media

The radio group "Our Three Sons Broadcasting" stations in Rock Hill are WRHI Radio(News/Sports, 1340 AM & 94.3FM) - South Carolina's 2008 and three-time Radio Station of the Year & WRHM Interstate 107 - (Today's Country/Sports). Along with, WAVO (Standards, 1150 AM), NPR affiliate WNSC-FM (88.9 FM), and Southside Baptist Church of Rock Hill Christian broadcast station, WRHJ-LP 93.1.

Television media

PBS affiliate WNSC-TV (Channel 30) and CN2, a daily cable news program produced by Comporium Communications for York, Chester, and Lancaster counties. MyNetworkTV Charlotte affiliate WMYT-TV Channel 55, is licensed to the city of Rock Hill but its studios are shared with WJZY-TV in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

Seasonal events

Rock Hill hosts several seasonal events. Each spring there is a festival called Come-See-Me which brings more than 125,000 people to the city each year from across the country. Come-See-Me was voted as the number one South Carolina Festival and has been featured in Southern Living magazine. On Independence Day, Rock Hill hosts its Red, White, and Boom Festival. A winter festival, called Christmasville Rock Hill, is held annually each December in Downtown Rock Hill.


The city operates under a Mayor-council government. The governing body is composed of a mayor and six members. The mayor is determined through a nonpartisan, at-large election for a four-year term of office while Council Members are chosen through nonpartisan, single-member district elections. Council members are elected to staggered four-year terms of office.

City council is a legislative body, establishing policies with recommendations from the city administrator. The city administrator acts as the chief administrator of the council's policies implemented through the administrative control of city departments given to him by ordinance.

Mayor: Doug Echols

Council Members

  • Ward One
    • Susie B. Hinton
  • Ward Two
    • Kathy Pender
  • Ward Three
    • Kevin Sutton
  • Ward Four
    • John A. Black
  • Ward Five
    • Osbey Roddey
  • Ward Six
    • Jim Reno

Public Services

  • Rock Hill Police Department
  • Rock Hill Fire Department
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Tourism
  • Utilities
    • Water & Sewer
    • Electricity
    • Waste Management
  • Transportation


The city of Rock Hill and its surrounding area is home to numerous attractions.

Glencairn Garden in Rock Hill


Six museums are located in the city, and many more in the area. The York County Museum of Rock Hill is a cultural and natural history museum located near the Rock Hill Airport. The Comporium Telephone Museum is a historical museum located in Downtown. The Center for the Arts is an art museum also located in Downtown and owned by the York County Arts Council. The Main Street Children's Museum is located in Downtown. The Historic White Home is a house museum and park on White Street. The Rock Hill Train Depot Museum is a replica of the historic train depot once located in downtown.

Museums outside Rock Hill include Historic Brattonsville, Catawba Cultural Center at their reservation, James K. Polk Home, and more museums located just outside of Charlotte.

Parks and recreation

Rock Hill is home thirty-one parks, four recreational centers, one botanical garden, along with the many nature trails.

There are also Nanny Mountain County Park and Ebenezer County Park, Kings Mountain State Park and Andrew Jackson State Park, and Kings Mountain National Military Park that are located just minutes away.

Basketball practice at Winthrop Coliseum


The Rock Hill Cardinals were a Western Carolinas League baseball team affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1963-1968.

The Winthrop Eagles is Winthrop University's Athletic Department and is affiliated with The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The city is also home to many sports championships including the National Youth Soccer Championship as well as many more hosted by the city of Rock Hill Department of Parks and Recreation.

Shopping centers

  • Rock Hill Galleria is a regional shopping mall anchored by Belk's, Sears, JC Penney, Walmart, and a planned Burlington Coat Factory and Stein Mart, along with over 60 specialty stores and a food court. Source
  • Manchester Village is another premier shopping center. The complex is anchored by nine national retailers, a Regal 14-screen movie theater, and many specialty shops.

Additional shopping centers across the city feature other well-known national and local retailers.

In popular culture

Featured films

Notable natives and residents

National Football League (NFL) players from Rock Hill


  1. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  3. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011-05-14. 
  4. ^ Associated Press (February 21, 1961). "’Sing-In’ Negroes Eat Hearty; Say ‘Jail—No Bail’". The Spartanburg Herald.,2802776&dq=rock+hill+sit-in&hl=en. Retrieved December 1, 2010. "Eight Negro Demonstrators is a disciplinary cell at the York County Prison Camp accepted and ate second helpings Monday of the full meal given every third day to prisoners on bread and water." 
  5. ^ "The Friendship Nine / January 31, 1961‎". Herald Online. February 22, 2004. Retrieved December 1, 2010. "They were students at Friendship College and called themselves the Friendship Nine. The members of this group were James Wells, William "Dub" Massey, Robert McCullough, John Gaines, William "Scoop" Williamson, Willie McLeod, Thomas Gaither, Clarence Graham, Charles Taylor and Mack Workman." 
  6. ^ AF Audrey Flack Website
  7. ^ a b c "Monthly Averages for Rock Hill, SC". The Weather Channel. Retrieved November 21, 2011. 
  8. ^ "August Daily Averages for Rock Hill, SC". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  9. ^ "January Daily Averages for Rock Hill, SC". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  10. ^ "Area sees little change in jobs"], Herald Online
  11. ^
  12. ^ "100 Best Communities for Young People". Americas Promise Allience. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  13. ^ "Rock Hill District Three". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  14. ^ "Rock Hill District Three Information". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  15. ^ "Clinton Junior College". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  16. ^ "York Technical College". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  17. ^ Dale Christopher, Behind the Desk With Matt Christopher: The #1 Sportswriter for Kids, New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2004
  18. ^ Sparky Anderson Minor League Statistics & History -
  19. ^ Valerie Ann Leeds, "Edmund Lewandowski's Mosaic Murals," American Art Review, 18(March–April 2006), pp. 142-47.

External links

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