There’s more to the city of Florence than being a pass-through to Myrtle Beach or the half-way point between New York and Florida. This burgeoning hub of shopping, recreation, arts and entertainment has plenty of appeal and a flavor that hits all the sweet spots of both small-town and big city living. It is located in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, known for its rolling rivers, agricultural history as a major supplier of tobacco and cotton and railroad roots that literally put Florence on the map in the 1800s.
Established at the crossing of three railroad lines, Florence was named for the daughter of W.W. Harllee, who served as president of the Wilmington & Manchester Railroad. The rails were heavily used during the Civil War as a means for transporting artillery, as well as Confederate troops and Union soldiers who were captured and held at the Florence Stockade. The graves of Union troops who died in captivity became the catalyst for the establishment of a national cemetery. The site of the Florence Stockade and the Florence National Cemetery are both open to visitors interested in learning more about this compelling period in American history.
In 1890, the city was officially chartered and established as the county seat. Today, nearly 40,000 people call Florence home. Industry and business have a strong presence in the area, which is home to sites for QVC, Otis Elevator, Patheon (a pharmaceutical developer) and Honda Manufacturing of South Carolina; two major medical centers, McLeod Health and MUSC Health Florence Medical Center; and educational institutions Francis Marion University and Florence-Darlington Technical College.
A recent revitalization of its downtown has made Florence a center of activity for visitors and people living in the Pee Dee region. Great dining, cultural events, live music, shopping and the arts now define the Florence scene. And each November, the whole town "goes nuts" at the kickoff of the South Carolina Pecan Festival, a downtown event that draws approximately 50,000 attendees.
On any given day, visitors to Florence might experience a symphony performance, a play, a rock concert, an art show, an outdoor market, a historical re-enactment and so much more. It’s easy to see Florence is a town that honors its past, basks in its present and keeps a steady focus on a vibrant, exciting future.