With the passing of centuries and the arrival of Europeans, the population and landscape began to change. English colonists laid out plans for Georgetown, the state's third oldest city, in 1730. Surrounded by intricate rivers and marshlands, Georgetown became the center of America's rice empire. Crops of indigo, cotton and lumber also contributed to the wealthy economy. A rich plantation culture took root here and flourished - in no small measure as a result of the diligence and manpower of African slaves, many with first-hand knowledge of rice cultivation from their homelands. Hopswee and other historic plantations, Georgetown's Rice Museum, and Brookgreen Gardens offer fascinating glimpses into this cornerstone of Georgetown's past.
Before the Civil War, wealthy plantation owners turned Pawleys Island into one of the first summer resorts on the Atlantic coast. Planters and their families spent summers on the cool, breezy island to avoid malaria and other deadly diseases associated with the swampy area, still conditions of the plantation site. Historic cottages, inns, and other buildings still stand on Pawleys Island.
After the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves, Georgetown's rice plantation culture disappeared, leaving behind a rich history and culture that residents hold dear. The Georgetown Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.