Myrtle Beach /ˈmɜrtəlˈbiːtʃ/ is a coastal city on the east coast of the United States in Horry County, South Carolina. It is situated on the center of a large and continuous stretch of beach known as the Grand Strand in northeastern South Carolina.
Myrtle Beach is one of the major centers of tourism in the United States because of the city's warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches, attracting an estimated 14 million visitors each year.As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 27,109 with the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area population at 465,391 according to a 2013 estimate.
|Myrtle Beach, South Carolina|
North Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach
Location of Myrtle Beach in South Carolina
Technically a man-made island, Myrtle Beach has been separated from the continental United States since 1936 by the Intracoastal Waterway,forcing the city and area in general to develop within a small distance from the coast. In part due to this separation, the area directly west of Myrtle Beach across the waterway remained primarily rural, whereas its northern and southern ends were bordered by other developed tourist towns, North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach. Since then, the inland portion of the Myrtle Beach area has developed dramatically and the beach itself is developing westward.
Due to strong erosion and tropical cyclones along the Atlantic Ocean, the city is separated from its beach by large dunes populated with sea grasses, which stabilize the sandy soil underneath and act as a natural seawall against storm surge. In conjunction, the city has also renourished the beach's sands several times, with one instance almost immediately followed by the landfalls of hurricanes Hugo and Hazel, necessitating a second replenishment to fill in the quick loss of the first.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 23.55 square miles (61.0 km2).
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Long Bay area was inhabited by the native Waccamaw Tribe. 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 European settler along Long Bay arrived in the late 18th Century, attempting to extend theplantation system outward towards the ocean. Records are sparse from this period, with most of the recorded history pieced together from old land grants documents.
These settlers were met with mixed results, producing unremarkable quantities of indigo and tobacco as the coast's soil was sandy and most of the crop 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 the Witherses: John, Richard, William, and Mary. This family received an area around present-day Wither's Swash, also known as Myrtle Swash or the eight-Mile Swash. A separate grant was granted to James Minor, including 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 the American colonies gained independence, the area 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 a night at Windy Hill (part of present-day North Myrtle Beach) 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.
|U.S. Decennial Census|
Myrtle Beach is the largest principal city of the Myrtle Beach-Conway-Georgetown CSA, a Combined Statistical Area that includes the Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach metropolitan area (Horry County) and the Georgetown micropolitan area (Georgetown County),which had a combined population of 329,449 at the 2010 census.
As of the 2010 census, the population of Myrtle Beach was 27,109. Per the 2000 census there were 22,759 permanent residents in Myrtle Beach, 10,413 households, 5,414 families, 1,356.5 people per square mile (523.7/km²), with 14,658 housing units at an average density of 873.5 per square mile (337.3/km²).