Street names: Assembly Street was named for the General Assembly. Parallel streets were named for heroes of the American Revolution. Those to the east of Assembly - like Marion, Pickens and Barnwell - honor South Carolinians. Those to the west honor those born elsewhere, such as Pulaski and Lincoln. The tradition changed over time, and there are some exceptions, such as Washington Street and Lady Street, named for George and Martha Washington.
Along the tracks: Rail lines that reached the city in the 1840s primarily transported cotton bales, not passengers. Smaller businesses vied for space in the emerging commercial district. From 1870 through the 1890s, businesses cropped up along the tracks.
Reaching out in war: The building at 800 Gervais St. that now houses Jillian's was built about 1850 as the S.C. railroad depot. During the Civil War, it was used as a wayside hospital where local women provided aid to more than 75,000 soldiers awaiting trains and treatment.
All in a name: Adluh Flour Mill, at 804 1/2 Gervais St., got its name by reversing the name of the original owner's daughter, "Hulda." The Allen Brothers Milling Co. began operating there in 1900 and has been producing flour, corn meal, grits and a variety of mixes ever since.
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Walk on by: Columbia had no paved streets until 1908, when 17 blocks of Main Street were surfaced. There were, however, 115 publicly maintained street crossings at intersections to keep pedestrians from having to wade through a sea of mud between wooden sidewalks. As an experiment, Washington Street was once paved with wooden blocks. This was the source of much local amusement when they buckled and floated away during heavy rains.
Home address: In 1875, about 570 households were in the Vista. Twenty years later, that figure almost tripled to nearly 1,600. Initially, these residents were a mix of lower, middle and upper classes, both black and white. By the start of the 20th century, black residents outnumbered whites almost 2-to-1 and, by 1920, Gervais Street was home to the largest concentration of black-owned businesses in Columbia.
- Information provided by tour leader Brian Cuthrell