Cities Near Myrtle Beach, SC
Local city information for Myrtle Beach, SC
) is a coastal resort city in Horry County, South Carolina, United States. It is the de facto hub of both the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area and the Grand Strand, a complex of beach towns and barrier islands stretching from Little River to Georgetown, South Carolina.
Arising from a getaway for lumber workers from Conway, Myrtle Beach has rapidly developed into a major tourist destination in the Southeastern United States in the latter 20th century and 2000s. As of 2006, the metro area had an estimated population of 299,353. According to the 2000 census, the area was the 13th fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States.
Aside from its many beaches, Myrtle Beach has become a major coastal resort, shopping destination, and convention and conference center. The area features amusement parks as well, such as the Freestyle Music Park, originally themed after the popular Hard Rock Cafe. The area also features many malls and the sprawling Broadway at the Beach festival center. The area hosts approximately 14.6 million visitors annually. Coastal Carolina University, located in nearby Conway, serves as the main higher education institute for the area.
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the general area along Long Bay was inhabited by the Waccamaw Indians. The Waccamaw used the river for travel and fished along the shore around Little River. Waties Island, the primary barrier island along Long Bay, has evidence of burial and shell mounds, remains of the visiting Waccamaw.
The first settler along Long Bay arrived in the late 17th century, attempting to extend the plantation system outward towards the ocean . Records are sparse from this period, with most of the recorded history pieced together from old land grants. They were met with mixed results, producing unremarkable quantities of indigo and tobacco. The coast's soil was sandy and most of the crops yields were of an inferior quality.
Prior to the American Revolution, the area along the future Grand Strand was essentially uninhabited. Several families received land grants along the coast, including most notably the Withers: John, Richard, William and Mary. They received an area around present-day Myrtle Swash, at the time known as Wither's Swash or the 8-Mile Swash. Another grant was given to James Minor, a barrier island named Minor Island, now Waties Island, off of the coast near Little River.
Mary Wither's gravestone at Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church speaks to the remoteness of the former Strand: "She gave up the pleasures of Society and retired to Long Bay, where she resided a great part of her life devoted to the welfare of her children
As America reached independence, Horry County remained essentially unchanged, and the coast remained barren. George Washington scouted out the Southern states during his term, traveling down the King's Highway. He stayed the night at Windy Hill and was led across Wither's Swash to Georgetown by Jeremiah Vereen.
The Withers family remained one of the few settlers around Myrtle Beach for the next half-century. In 1822, a strong hurricane swept the house of R. F. Withers into the ocean, drowning 18 people inside. The tragedy made the Withers family decide to abandon their plots along the coast, and the area, left unattended, began to return to forest.
Following the Civil War, most of the abandoned land along the ocean was purchased by the Conway Lumber Company, now New South Lumber. The company built the Conway & Seashore Railroad to move chopped timber from the coast inland. A "Withers" post office was established at the site of the old Swash.
After the railroad was finished, employees of the lumber and railroad company would take train flatcars down to the beach on their weekends off, in essence becoming the first Grand Strand tourists . The area where the railroad ended was nicknamed "New Town", contrasting it with the "Old Town", or Conway.
At the turn of the 19th century, Joe Mercier envisioned turning New Town into a tourist destination, a coastal town rivaling the northern beaches like Coney Island. Burroughs died in 1897, but his sons completed the railroad's expansion to the beach and opened the Seaside Inn in 1901, to house new visitors .
Founded in 1938, a contest was held to name the town and Burroughs' wife suggested honoring the locally abundant shrub, the wax myrtle. So the town was named Myrtle Beach. It continued to grow for the next couple of decades, and in 1957, it finally incorporated. In 1940, Myrtle Beach Municipal Airport was built, and Kings Highway was finally paved, giving Myrtle Beach its first primary highway.
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