Rock Hill | Olde English District

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Rock Hill

Rock Hill (c.1870; 39.4 sq. miles; population: 69,010).

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon at Rock Hill's River Park

Rock Hill, the largest city in York County (and the Olde English District), is also the fifth largest in the state of South Carolina. As the commercial center of this region, this city is home to numerous businesses and institutions, including the renowned campus of Winthrop University, highly regardedYork Technical College and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church sponsored Clinton Jr. College.

Christmasville, celebrated each year in Old Town

The city was named for a flint hill of rock that was in the way of the Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad Company, during the building of a rail line from Charlotte to Columbia. Much of this rock was removed to make way for the railroad. A depot at the site eventually became known as Rock Hill. The Rock Hill Post Office opened on April 17, 1852, even though the town was not officially incorporated until 1870. Thus, Rock Hill celebrated its centennial in 1952 and its sesquicentennial in 2002.

Civitas & Vernon Grant

The symbols of the city are the four "Civitas" statues(erected in 1991) on Dave Lyle Boulevard. Each of them holds discs that symbolize the four different industries in the city. The 20-foot-tall (6.1 m) bronze statues were created by NY artist Audrey Flack. A fifth Civitas statue was placed in the City Hall Rotunda a year later. Rock Hill was home to the late Vernon Grant, a commercial artist best known as the creator of Snap, Crackle and Pop, the longtime cartoon mascots of Rice Krispies cereal. Grant also was known for his many depictions of Santa Claus. He created Glen the Frog, the mascot of Rock Hill's annual spring festival,Come See Me. His artwork is also celebrated during the annual Christmasville holiday festival.

No Room For Racism

Friendship Nine Marker

City limits signs proclaim that Rock Hill is a city with "no room for racism". Rock Hill's Saint Anne School, founded by members of the Rock Hill Oratory, was the first integrated school in South Carolina. At the time of its desegregation, the school made national news. Rock Hill was the setting for two significant events in the American Civil Rights Movement. In February 1961, nine African-American men went to jail at the York County prison farm after staging a sit-in at a segregated McCrory's lunch counter. The event gained nationwide attention because the men followed an untried strategy called "jail, no bail," which lessened the huge financial burden civil rights groups were facing as the sit-in movement spread across the South. This event received widespread national news coverage, and the tactic was adopted by other civil rights groups. They became known as the Friendship Nine because eight of the nine men were students at Rock Hill's Friendship Junior College. Later that year, Rock Hill was the first stop in the Deep South for a group of 13 Freedom Riders who boarded buses in Washington, D.C., and headed South to test the 1960 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court outlawing racial segregation in all interstate public facilities. When civil rights leader John Lewis and another man stepped off the bus, they were beaten by a white mob.

In 2002, Lewis ( then a U.S. congressman from Georgia) made a triumphant return to Rock Hill, where he spoke at Winthrop University and was given the key to the city. On January 21, 2008, Rep. Lewis returned to Rock Hill again and spoke at the city's Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday observance, where Mayor Doug Echols officially apologized to him on the city's behalf for the Freedom Riders' treatment there.