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Unwritten rules of Columbia

From unspoken rules to commuting, we’ve compiled tips, tricks, and fun memories we share as locals who know the city like the backs of our hands. Consider this your official list of unofficial Columbia rules.

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Say it with us — “UG” and “Jer-vay” Streets | photo by COLAtoday team

Whether you’re a Cola native or a relative newcomer, there are just some things every Soda Citizens understands to be true.

We asked our readers to share Columbia’s unwritten rules, from common city knowledge to relatable trends and local lingo. You won’t find these rules in a handbook, but they are undoubtedly absorbed by the community — and if you’re not from Columbia, these might be a little difficult to explain.

The unspoken rule everyone knows

“The first unwritten rule of Columbia is to not talk about the unwritten rules of Columbia.” — @matt.Lewis79

“How to get to Williams Brice without crossing a railroad track” — @eking1231

“You know where Rockaway’s is.” — @d_cantelmi

“Heathwood Hall is not in Heathwood, and Shandon Baptist Church is not in Shandon.” — Sandi Reid B.

“You know about the catacombs.” — @med_zeppelin_

“You know what those stars on the outside of the State House represent.” — @sandylaneyphotography

“You know that Rush’s is a staple.” — @aishaaude_

We’re kind to our neighbors

“Not many people know that the parking meters are free after 6 p.m. until 9 a.m. Mon. - Sat. and free all day on Sunday! I am always happy to tell someone as they are trying to put money in the slot. What a nice surprise!” — Michelle M.

“You’ll hear “Hello my friend,” “hello my dear” before eating deliciousness” — @margaret_ruth

We’ve learned a thing or two from commuting


“No passing on the Gervais Street Bridge! Too dangerous!” — Michelle M.

Sometimes you just have to laugh

If you’re a local, “you know how to pronounce Huger and Gervais.” – @fordboydbailey

“Non-locals pronunciation of Huger St using ‘hew-Ger’” — Roy C

“Huger is pronounced U G” — Ann H

“Don’t even try to do anything outside in August. — it’s not worth it.” — Katie G.

“Don’t wear orange or purple, wearing a shirt that says COCKS is 100% appropriate, don’t drive down Main Street on Saturday mornings.” — Mia C.

Two words:

“Dog West” — @myowngirlfriday

“The Whig” — @enchantpix

“Chicken Man” — @alyssalfarris

“Adluh Grits” — Lynetta M.

“Loose Lucy’s!” — @samanthacbrown

We remember when…

“Do you remember the newsprint smell of The Capitol Newsstand on Main? Or how much fun it was to spin on the barstools at The Seaboard Diner? Do you know where the Seaboard Diner was?” — @dremeboatannie

“When Cromer’s Peanuts used to be in Dutch Square Mall” — @mssunshine803

“In 1964 there was a A&W Root Beer drive up restaurant (Sonic Style) on Devine Street.” — @mimi2some

“You remember the old ET sign over the bike shop in Triangle City in the 80s.” — @faireundefi

“Camping out for NUMEROUS concerts for sometimes numerous nights at the original Coliseum” — @thecorkedcook

Cola’s pro tips

“Hit up the restaurants in Five Points and Devine Street when USC is NOT in session for the least wait times.” — Linda L.

“Cottle farms has the freshest strawberries, in season!” — Roy C.

“Zestos has the best fried chicken. Just look for the chocolate cone in the sky!” — @cody_brodie_

What did we miss? If you know an unofficial rule that’s not on the list, let us know using this survey.

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