Columbia’s most iconic landmarks

Photo by @wilson_and_son_photography

#Answered: Columbia’s version of the Hollywood sign

Cola’s got some pretty picturesque spots, but when it comes to finding a landmark that is distinctly Columbia – what comes to mind?

We all know the typical spots. The S.C. State House, Willy-B, Gervais St. Bridge, etc. – but what about the places you always take your out-of-towners to see that just say, “This is the real Columbia?”

We asked you what iconic images evoke the spirit of Columbia and then ranked them based on your votes. Click here or on the button below to see if your favorite Cola landmark made the list. 👇


10. Finlay Park Fountain

Finlay Park and its fountain | Photo by @ftm_photography_sc

Named after former Columbia mayor Kirkman Finlay, this spot is a true local icon – even if it’s been ~3 years since the Finlay Park fountain was in operation. Water or not the fountain ever gets repaired, Finlay Park is still an excellent location for the City’s free summer concerts + movie nights (…and we hear there are dogs there sometimes). // 📍 930 Laurel St.

9. Lake Murray + Dam Hydroelectric Intake Towers

Lake Murray’s towers | Photo by @dawn2dusk44

How could you not be a fan of sunset boat rides at Lake Murray? The lake and its Hydroelectric Intake Towers (providing power + eye candy) have become symbols of the Midlands and our list wouldn’t be complete without them. // 📍 State Rd. S-36-587

8. West Columbia Riverwalk  

Photo by @wilson_and_son_photography

Looking to explore Columbia’s natural beauty? Take stroll down the trail right next to the Congaree River. This is a must-explore for anyone in the Columbia area who wants to float the river, have a picnic (i.e. hit up Brookland Brunch on Sundays) or go on a nature run. Plus, it’s an iconic backdrop for photos in Cola. // 📍 West Columbia

7. Gervais St. Bridge

Gervais St. Bridge | Photo by @glennab28

This bridge is one of the few pieces of Columbia history that you can actually drive on. Plus, from 1928-1953, this bridge was the only way to cross the Congaree River to West Columbia (read: the only way to get to Zestos). This image definitely crosses our mind when we think “Columbia.” // 📍 Gervais St.

6. Capstone

The top of Capstone | Photo by @zachpippin

For most new UofSC freshmen, this landmark building on campus is a beacon to find your way if you get lost. (Just look up.) Lighting up garnet after a Gamecock win, the Capstone building represents UofSC victories + academics, and the life both bring to our city. (You can also eat brunch on top of the building.) // 📍 898 Barnwell St.

5. Five Points Fountain

The fountain in Five Points | Photo by @slorentz

Whether you only go to Five Points for special events like St. Pat’s or you’re there everyday with Drip in-hand (or both), we can probably all agree that the fountain at the center of the district is pretty iconic to Columbia. And when it’s lit up at night – surrounded by string-lit trees – it’s pretty dreamy. // 📍 728 Harden St.

4. UofSC’s Historic Horseshoe

UofSC Historic Horseshoe | Photo by @audreywhelancreative

It’s impossible to adequately express the rich history of UofSC’s historic Horseshoe in just a few sentences (so click here for some quick facts and photos, then + now). Visited by guests like President William Howard Taft + Pope John Paul II, the Horseshoe is a gathering space for not only the university, but for the city. For the full history of this iconic spot, pick up locally-written On The Horseshoe. // 📍 Sumter St.

3. South Carolina Statehouse

The South Carolina Statehouse | Photo by @morganlafave

The S.C. Legislature might only be in session from January-May, but we’re blessed year-round with iconic views of their beautiful meeting place in the center of downtown Cola. Built in 1855, the State House marks the center of our city + represents our status as S.C.’s capital. Plan a (free) visit here. // 📍 1100 Gervais St.

2. Williams Brice Stadium

Williams-Brice Stadium | Photo by @cinematic.aerials

Of course the heart of UofSC sports makes the list. Opened in 1934, Willy-B has seen Gamecock Football wins, losses – and even Beyonce. This is ground on which real tears have been shed, and triumphant victories have been celebrated. If you think the beginning notes of Sandstorm aren’t playing in my head as I write this, you are so wrong. 🐓 // 📍 George Rogers Blvd.

1. Adluh Flour Mill

Adluh Flour | Photo by @realadampowell

It’s no wonder that most of you named the Adluh Flour Mill building in The Vista as Columbia’s most iconic spot (our very own Hollywood sign, if you will). Adluh has been milling since 1900 – and is listed on the National Register of Historic Properties. Having an operating, historic mill in a downtown district isn’t common (especially one that makes such bomb grits), but leave it to Columbia to do things differently. This building stands tall as a tribute to Columbia’s past + present – but most importantly, food. // 📍 804 Gervais St.

Honorable mentions:

Because Columbia is so exciting to look at – we couldn’t narrow down your suggestions to just 10.

Tunnelvision Mural

Tunnelvision | Photo by @watch.lee.roam

Painted by famous local artist Blue Sky, this mural lets Columbia residents drive off into the sunset no matter what time it is (but don’t actually drive into it, please). // 📍 1514 Marion St.

Fire Hydrant

Busted Plug | Photo by @jbsquidfire

I once saw this sight in a book for the best places to stop on a road trip (ya know, with spots like the world’s largest ball of yarn). This giant sculpture on Taylor St. is officially named “Busted Plug” and was also designed by local artist Blue Sky; unveiled in 2001. Standing at ~40 feet tall, it’s hard to miss + definitely unique to Cola. // 📍 1404 Taylor St.

Babcock cupola

Babcock building at BullStreet | Photo by @bullstreetsc

This part of the former South Carolina State Hospital for psychiatric care is somewhat terrifying (but also super cool). Now, the former state hospital grounds are the up-and-coming BullStreet District (a.k.a. COLAtoday’s ‘hood), and the Babcock building (which formerly housed patients) stands as the iconic center of the area. Its cupola can be seen all the way down Elmwood when you’re driving toward Bull St. Definitely worth a glance, but not necessarily a visit up the tower (that’s considered trespassing). Bonus: We hear from BullStreet that there are some exciting things in the works for this old building. // 📍 2100 Bull St.


The votes are in… the Adluh Flour Mill is our (un)official Hollywood sign. 

While there’s no way to sum up the unique personality of the city we call home, we hope these landmarks come pretty close.

What do you think? Sound off on our posts about the subject on Twitter, Facebook + Instagram.