What’s So Special About Greenville?
My response to the above question is based on the fact that I live in New England, and I know that many of the folks up here want to get away from our typical NE winters, and so they look south. Greenville has become one of the most attractive spots for the Snowbirds to take up residence during the coldest months of the year.
So weather is one response to the question why Greenville is one of the fastest growing towns in America, but that is not why so many Millennials are moving to and settling in Greenville. There are jobs here, and many multinational companies with headquarters in the area. And there is a lot to do here when you are not working or going to school.
Greenville is a great place to play. This is why “CNN Money” magazine ranked Greenville as one of the top ten fastest growing cities in the US. “Bloomberg” named Greenville as the 3rd strongest job market in 2010. “Forbes” magazine ranked Greenville as the 13th best city for young professionals. Greenville is a city that has so much to offer anyone of any generation.
A Bit of History
Greenville County, of which Greenville is the county seat, was created in 1786, and its physical appearance helped determine its name. Lemuel J. Alston came to Greenville County in 1788 and bought 400 acres. He established a village, naming that village Pleasantburg. One thing Lemuel J. Alston did of note was to build himself a stately mansion in Pleasantburg.
In 1816 Vardy McBee purchased Alston’s land and turned the mansion into a summer resort. After a few successful years, McBee decided to move into the mansion and make it his home. McBee died in 1864 and today he is considered the “Father of Greenville.” During his lifetime McBee donated much to charity and donated many acres of land for the many structures that were being built in Greenville, including churches, academies, and most importantly a cotton mill.
In 1831 Pleasantburg was incorporated as Greenville. Furman University set up shop in Greenville because of McBee’s influence and in 1851 Furman moved from Winnsboro, SC to Greenville.
McBee also played a key role in the economic development of Greensboro by assisting in the funding of a railroad in 1853. Because of McBee’s generosity and business sense, Greenville boomed with over 1000 calling the town home.
During the 1850’s Greenville favored the Union because of its economic ties, but John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry and the election of Abraham Lincoln caused Greenville to secede from the Union. Greenville was never involved in any fighting during the war and the only time Union Troops were there was in 1865 when they came through looking for Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy.
Following the war, Greenville prospered. Inhabitants built new mills along the Reedy River, they built bridges so traffic could move more easily into and out of Greenville, and most important, the townsfolk rebuilt the cotton mills.
In 1915 Greenville became known as the “Textile Center of the South”. During World War II Greenville became the home of the Donaldson Army Air Force base which played a critical role during the war.
After the war, Greenville once again flourished. With a number of GI’s coming back from the war, Furman University doubled its student population. In 1947 Bob Jones University was established and Greenville Technical College began accepting students in 1962. Today Greenville continues to grow and prosper.
I lived in Greenville on and off for 17 years and it’s a terrific small town. Compared to the cities I’ve lived in or near (Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, NYC, and now Seattle), it’s really a livable size where you see neighbors and coworkers on Main Street or at the store.
However, except for traffic and home prices, Seattle is far better – for the weather, natural beauty, public transit, income taxes, job opportunity, restaurants, and things to do. For my preferences, I could never go back.