Columbia is the capital and second-largest city of the U.S. state of South Carolina, with a population estimate of 131,674 as of 2019. The city serves as the county seat of Richland County, and a portion of the city extends into neighboring Lexington County. It is the center of the Columbia metropolitan statistical area, which had a population of 767,598 as of the 2010 United States Census, growing to 832,666 by July 1, 2018, according to 2018 U.S. Census estimates. This makes it the 70th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the nation, as estimated by the United States Census Bureau as of July 1, 2018. The name Columbia is a poetic term used for the United States, originating from the name of Christopher Columbus.
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 proved to be the source of much local amusement when they buckled and floated away during heavy rains. The blocks were replaced with asphalt paving in 1925.The first paid firemen were hired in 1903. A car was purchased for the chief that same year, evidently the first vehicle owned by the city.In 1934, the federal courthouse at Main and Laurel was purchased by the city, and in 1937, it officially became Columbia City Hall. Built of granite from nearby Winnsboro, Columbia City Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.Designed by Alfred Bult Mullett, President Ulysses S. Grant's federal architect, the building was completed in 1875. Mullet, best known for his design of the Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., had originally designed the building with a clock tower. Large cost overruns probably caused it to be left out.Copies of Mullet's original drawings can be seen on the walls of City Hall alongside historic photos of Columbia's beginnings.
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