Wild Guesses

By almost all economic measures, the Greenville area is poised for dynamic growth over the next few decades. Like many in the region, we at Zuendt Engineering are excited by these prospects. That means more jobs. More opportunities. More ideas.

However, it’s wise not to put too much stock in predictions and forecasts. Many come true…but many don’t. Here is a short history — both good and bad.

  • 1871: The Mansion House, which is a hotel where the Poinsett Hotel now stands, was sold for $30,000 based on the idea that proposed new rail lines would lead to dynamic growth in Greenville. Growth did come, but the Mansion House would be a victim of the growth as it was demolished in the early 1900s to make way for the modern Poinsett.
  • 1960: Greenville passed Columbia to be the second largest city in the state with 65,000 residents. That was up from 57,000 at the start of the decade. However, the city really didn’t grow much after that until the last twenty years for a variety of reasons that planners didn’t quite envision at the start of the Space Age.
  • 1970: Former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall said he didn’t believe recent projections that America would see its population increase from 218 million to 300 million by the year 2005. He was right. Sort of. We didn’t hit that number until 2006.
  • 1974: Forecasters projected 1.1 million people over an 11 county area with Greenville in the middle by 1990. It was 828,000. This is tough to say if it came true because the “geographic region” that was considered the Upstate was shuffled in the 1980s so that Spartanburg and Greenville became separate entities.
  • 1980: The South Carolina population was predicted to grow by 14.9 percent by the end of the decade. That came after a 20 percent growth in the 1970s.
  • 1990: South Carolina saw a 9.1 percent population growth – well below the predicted mark.

What does this all mean? We’re not sure. But we do know this: The Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson Combined Statistical Area (CSA) saw a population growth of 71,324, a 5.1% increase from 2014 to 2018, according to the US Census Bureau. We are at an estimated 1.5 million with about 530,000 in Greenville.

That is a big jump from the 1870s. It’s a number that the forecasters then couldn’t have dreamed about. Who knows what it will be in the 2070s.