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The city serves as the county seat of Richland County, and a portion of the city extends into neighboring Lexington County. The name Columbia is a poetic term used for the United States, originating from the name of Christopher Columbus.

Columbians still enjoy most of the magnificent network of wide streets.

The commissioners comprised the local government until 1797 when a Commission of Streets and Markets was created by the General Assembly.

In 1860, the city was the location of the South Carolina Secession Convention, which marked the departure of the first state from the Union in the events leading up to the Civil War.Columbia received a large stimulus to development when it was connected in a direct water route to Charleston by the Santee Canal.This canal connected the Santee and Cooper rivers in a 22-mile-long (35 km) section.The commissioners designed a town of 400 blocks in a 2-mile (3 km) square along the river.The blocks were divided into lots of 0.5 acres (2,000 m) and sold to speculators and prospective residents.

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