Florence is a city located in Florence County, South Carolina, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 30,248. It is the county seat of Florence County. The Florence metropolitan statistical area, which consists of Florence and Darlington counties, was estimated at 197,256 inhabitants in 2004 by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Florence is located at 34°11'3" North, 79°46'27" West (34.184088, -79.774147).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 45.9 km2 (17.7 mi2). 45.8 km2 (17.7 mi2) of it is land and 0.1 km2 (0.04 mi2) of it is water. The total area is 0.17% water.
Florence is located in the coastal plain of South Carolina. The terrain is mostly flat. The average elevation above sea level is around 140ft. Jeffries Creek is a tributary of the Great Pee Dee River and is the main waterway that flows through the city of Florence.
As of the census of 2000, there are 30,248 people, 11,925 households, and 7,882 families residing in the city. The population density is 659.8/km2 (1,709.4/mi2). There are 13,090 housing units at an average density of 285.5/km2 (739.7/mi2). The racial makeup of the city is 52.96% White, 44.77% African American, 0.18% Native American, 1.16% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.21% from other races, and 0.71% from two or more races. 0.76% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 11,925 households out of which 30.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.9% are married couples living together, 20.7% have a female householder with no husband present, and 33.9% are non-families. 29.5% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.44 and the average family size is 3.03.
In the city the population is spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 37 years. For every 100 females there are 82.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 77.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $35,388, and the median income for a family is $42,250. Males have a median income of $35,633 versus $23,589 for females. The per capita income for the city is $20,336. 19.3% of the population and 15.3% of families are below the poverty line. 28.2% of those under the age of 18 and 15.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Though Florence was part of one of the original townships laid out by the Lords Proprieters in 1719, it was only slowly and thinly settled until the coming of the railroads. Prior to them, the Pee Dee River was the route of most commerce. Early settlers practiced subsistence farming and produced indigo, cotton, naval stores and timber, which was shipped downriver to the port at Georgetown and exported.
In the mid 1800s 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.
During the Civil War the town was an important supply and railroad repair center for the Confederacy, and the site of the Florence Stockade, a prison for Union prisoners of war. Many of the prisoners died during the latter years of the war, and the burial ground adjacent to the stockade was to become the Florence National Cemetery, which continues to be a national burial ground for veterans of all wars since.
The Civil War also brought to prominence Henry Timrod, also known as The Poet Laureate of the Confederacy, who taught at a schoolhouse on the Cannon Plantation nearby.
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 Florence grew into a major medical center, of far greater importance than its size. Industry grew, especially after World War II, when Florence became increasingly known for textiles, pharmaceuticals, paper, manufacturing and in addition to agricultural products, which makes it the hub for business in the northeastern portion of South Carolina.