Greer

1876 –

The new town quickly established a prosperous business environment, claiming fourteen stores by the early 1880s. Four cotton mills were in operation by 1908. The principal business district along Trade Street sprouted a number of impressive multistory business edifices named for the city’s leading business families, including the Bennett, Bailey, and Marchant buildings.

(Greenville County; 2020 pop. 35,316). Situated midway between Greenville and Spartanburg, the city of Greer originated along the line of the Richmond and Danville Air Line Railway. In 1873 the railroad instituted a flag stop on the property of Manning Greer, and the site came to be known in turns as Greer’s Depot, Greer’s Station, and simply Greer’s (or Greers). An act incorporating the town of Greer’s was approved by the General Assembly in 1876. Although the “s” would be dropped informally in the ensuing years, the city did not officially become Greer until 1976.

The new town quickly established a prosperous business environment, claiming fourteen stores by the early 1880s. Four cotton mills were in operation by 1908. The principal business district along Trade Street sprouted a number of impressive multistory business edifices named for the city’s leading business families, including the Bennett, Bailey, and Marchant buildings. Many of these were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. By the start of the 1920s, Greer had a population of almost 2,300. By the late 1920s, the growing town was home to three banks, two newspapers, and a public library. Sixteen passenger trains passed daily along the lines of the Southern Railway and the electric Piedmont and Northern Railway. Town markets sold some nine thousand bales of cotton and a considerable amount of peaches annually.

Like the rest of the upstate, Greer suffered through hard times during the Depression of the 1930s. Some relief was afforded by the establishment of a Civilian Conservation Corps camp near the town in 1934, which provided food, lodging, and employment for two hundred men. That same year, however, “flying squadrons” of the United Textile Workers visited Greer during the General Textile Strike and briefly forced the town’s four mills to close.

Greer more than shared in the general economic prosperity of the Greenville-Spartanburg area in the latter decades of the twentieth century. In 1992 German automaker BMW selected the town to be the site of its first complete automobile manufacturing facility outside of Germany. The plant opened in November 1994 and was hailed as the crowning achievement of South Carolina’s ongoing efforts to recruit foreign manufacturers. Due in large measure to the arrival of the BMW facility, Greer became one of the fastest growing cities in the state during the 1990s, with a population increase of sixty-three percent during the decade. In 2001 a partnership of public and private interests began implementing its ambitious “Partnership for Tomorrow” plan, which sought to further enhance economic development and revitalize the city center.

Campbell, M. C., comp. Greer Community Annual, January 1927. Greer, S.C., 1927.

Cooper, Nancy Vance Ashmore. Greenville: Woven from the Past. Sun Valley, Calif.: American Historical Press, 2000.

Kinard, Joe Dew. A Strong Tower: The Centennial History of the First Baptist Church of Greer, South Carolina, 1880–1980. Columbia, S.C.: R. L. Bryan, 1980.

Richardson, James M. History of Greenville County, South Carolina: Narrative and Biographical. 1930. Reprint, Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Company, 1980.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Greer
  • Coverage 1876 –
  • Author
  • Keywords originated along the line of the Richmond and Danville Air Line Railway, property of Manning Greer, National Register of Historic Places, United Textile Workers, Great Textile Strike
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date July 20, 2024
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 5, 2022
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