Welcome to Columbia! Located on the banks of the Congaree River in the central potion of the Palmetto State, Columbia is the capital and largest city of South Carolina. The city was both created and established by a 1786 act of the South Carolina state legislature as being the new state capitol upon relocating from Charleston to the southeast. By 1801, the University of South Carolina had been chartered within the city. The institution has seen dramatic growth since its inception and continues to play a major role both economically and as one of the city's most visible civic symbols. The sprawling university campus can be found just to the southeast of downtown. The city has come a long way since being nearly obliterated by General William Tecumseh Sherman and his Union Army during the American Civil War. On February 17, 1865, he would ignite a fire which would destroy nearly three-fourths of the city. Only the South Carolina Statehouse , university, and other public buildings were spared. From its ashes, the city has risen once more to become one of the cultural centers of the state, whilst retaining its traditional southern charm.