Columbia, a city, capital of South Carolina, and seat of justice of Richland county, situated on the E. bank of the Congaree, just below the falls, and at the confluence of the Broad and Saluda rivers, 100 m. N. W. of Charleston; pop. in 1860, 8,052; in 1870, 9,288, of whom 5,295 were colored. The Congaree is navigable to this point, and there is ample communication with the surrounding country by means of the South Carolina, the Greenville and Columbia, the Charlotte, Columbia, and Augusta, and the Wilmington, Columbia, and Augusta railroads. There is an iron bridge over the Congaree, immediately opposite the city, connecting the counties of Richland and Lexington, recently rebuilt at a cost of $40,000; while the approach on the north and west is aided by the Broad river bridge, 1,054 ft. long. Columbia occupies a plain some 200 ft. above the bed of the river, and before the civil war was one of the handsomest places in the south; it was laid out in regular squares, well built, with streets 100 ft. wide, and covered an extent each way of more than 2 m. The view from Arsenal hill is very beautiful. Sydney park contains about 25 acres of ground handsomely laid out in plots, and adorned with trees and shrubbery.
The Streets are abundantly shaded, and there are many splendid drives in the vicinity. The fair grounds of the South Carolina agricultural and mechanical society, in the N. W. suburbs, are well supplied with fountains and fish ponds, and contain about 30 acres. A race course is attached to them, and large fields for the exhibition of agricultural implements. The principal building is 175 ft. long and 135 deep, with an amphitheatre in front capable of seating 3,000 persons. The new state house, of granite, occupies an eminence in the centre of the city. Though unfinished, it has been covered with a temporary roof, and is now occupied. It has cost upward of $3,000,000, and about $1,000,000 will be required to complete it. The executive mansion has grounds laid out in walks, gardens, and drives, and commands a full view of the Congaree valley. The new city hall, in process of construction, will be of brick, three stories high, with a Mansard roof, and a tower at each end; besides the city offices, it will contain an opera house capable of seating 1,500 persons. The United States court house and post office, also in process of construction, will be of granite,, three stories high, with a Mansard roof, and a tower.
The market house, near the centre of the city, is a one-story brick building, about 150 ft. long, well ventilated and conveniently arranged. The gas works occupy an acre of ground, and consume annually about 800 barrels of rosin and 500 cords of wood. The gas produced gives a steady and brilliant light. The water power is extensive. Canals were early constructed around the falls, to improve the navigation of the river, which were sold by the state in 1868 to Senator Sprague of Rhode Island. The principal manufacturing establishments are 4 iron works, which produce steam engines, machinery, cotton presses, iron railings and building fronts, bells, and iron and brass castings; an oil factory, producing and refining about 3,000 gallons of cotton-seed oil per week; 2 manufactories of sashes, doors, and blinds; 1 of brooms, 1 of blank books, and a brewery. The car shops of the Charlotte, Columbia, and Augusta railroad occupy four acres of ground, and furnish locomotives, cars, and machinery for the use of the road. In the vicinity of Columbia are forests of yellow pine, oak, walnut, maple, poplar, etc, furnishing material for 15 or 20 saw mills, which produce about 5,000 ft. of lumber a day.
The high bluffs of the river supply material for good, bricks, and two companies are engaged in the manufacture. Excellent granite exists within the city limits, and is used in the construction of the public buildings. There are three national banks, with a capital of $500,000; a bank and trust company, capital $200,000; and two savings banks, with $644,000 capital. The South Carolina'penitentiary, begun in 1867, occupies a plot of 20 acres, at the junction of the Broad and Saluda rivers, within the city limits. It is to be five stories high, with two wings, each containing 250 cells. Each cell is 5 ft. wide, 8 ft. long, and 7 ft. high. The number of prisoners, Oct. 31, 1872, was 224, of whom 10 were females; 90 per cent, were colored. They are employed in the garden, carpenter, blacksmith, and shoe shops, marble works, weaving rooms, and broom factory attached to the institution, and in quarrying the granite for the building, as well as in its erection. The lunatic asylum, situated in the N. E. part of the city, occupies two principal buildings. That for the use of female patients is four stories high, and consists of two wings, with a centre building rising above them, crowned by a cupola. It can accommodate more than 100 patients.
The building occupied by the men is about 300 yards from the other, and has capacity for 120 patients. An additional wing 100 ft. long, 40 ft. wide, and 4 stories high, is in process of construction. There are also smaller buildings for the colored patients. The asylum in 1871 contained 285 inmates, of whom 90 were white males, 45 colored males, 115 white females, and 35 colored females. It is a well appointed institution, supported principally by the state. The grounds, 4 acres in extent, are surrounded by an enclosure, and beautified with gardens, hothouses, and walks. The university of South Carolina, founded in 1804, has an observatory connected with it. The grounds are about 12 acres in extent, and the buildings are substantially constructed of brick. In 1871 it had 14 instructors, 70* students, and a library of 27,000 volumes. The Presbyterian theological seminary, founded in 1831, had 7 professors, 41 students, an endowment of $145,-715, and a library of 18,340 volumes; the Lutheran theological seminary, founded in 1859, had 2 professors, an endowment of $29,000, and a library of 4,000 volumes. The Columbia male academy, founded in 1785, is in a flourishing condition.
The Ursuline convent at Valle Crucis, 2 m. from Columbia, has 20 inmates, who conduct a female seminary, and also have under their charge a day school in the city. The public school system is in its infancy, and is hampered by lack of funds; but in 1871 there were 10 free schools, with 32 teachers and 1,029 pupils. The state library contains about 3,000 volumes. There are 2 daily, 1 tri-weekly, and 7 weekly newspapers, and a monthly and a quarterly periodical.
There are 10 or 15 churches, several of which are for colored people. The denominations represented are the Baptist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Koman Catholic. - Columbia became the capital of the state in 1790, under an act of the legislature of March 22, 1786, which provided for the founding of the city. Toward the close of the civil war it was entered by the forces under Gen. Sherman, Feb. 17, 1865. Shortly before a large amount of cotton had been taken from the warehouses and piled in the streets, preparatory to removing it outside the city and burning it, to prevent its falling into the hands of the Unionists. This not having been effected, however, on the evacuation of the city by the confederate troops under Gen. Wade Hampton, the cotton was set on fire as it lay, whether by accident or design is unknown. Under the influence of a high wind, the flames spread rapidly, and 84 of the 124 blocks of the city, containing over 500 buildings and embracing the entire business quarter, were burned. The old state house, containing the legislative library of 25,000 volumes, five churches, the Ursuline convent, and the railroad depots were consumed.
The city has been rapidly rebuilt, and is increasing in population.