Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Welcome to Five Forks, South Carolina

Hellen and I live in River Walk, a subdivision. Ask residents of River Walk where we live and most of them will tell you that we live in Simpsonville, South Carolina. Or as one resident put it, "we definitely live in Simpsonville just not in the city limits". Huh? Simpsonville is a city and River Walk is well outside its limits. Simpsonville has a U.S. Post Office and that is the one that is designated for River Walk and so it's part of our mailing address. That's why people think we live in Simpsonville. We actually live much closer to Mauldin, but we don't live there either.

So, I've been asked more than once, where do we live? The answer I used to give is technically correct: We live in an unincorporated area of Greenville County. This confuses some people who move here from other states who assume we must be part of some other local government entity such as a township. Nope, we're not. We have no level of government more local than Greenville, County.

I knew we lived in an area popularly known as Five Forks, which is not surprising since Five Forks Road lies just outside the main River Walk entrance, it's just that I believed that to be a local saying and that Five Forks was not  a well-defined place. It turns out I was wrong.

Only recently have I discovered that Five Forks, which has no governmental functions, is a defined, legal place. The U.S. Census bureau calls it a CDP: Census Designated Place. The bureau defines a CDP this way:
"CDP is the abbreviation for Census designated place, the statistical counterpart of incorporated places and are delineated to provide data for settled concentrations of population that identifiable by name but are not legally incorporated under the laws of the state in which they are located. CDPs are delineated cooperatively by state and local officials and the Census Bureau, following Census Bureau guidelines."
So, it's still kind of a made up place, but when the U.S. Census Bureau is the one doing the making up, it attains some level of officialdom in my estimation. As far as I can tell, they do it purely for the purpose of having a place to put us after they count us since we don't live in a city or town.

So here are the boundaries of Five Forks, South Carolina as shown by Google maps. I circled River Walk to show where it lies within Five Forks. Click on the picture of the map below to make it appear larger.

A live version of the map on Google is shown here in case you want to explore Five Forks, SC:

View Larger Map

Since the U.S. Census Bureau is counting, let's talk about how many of us they counted in Five Forks. As of 2010, the population of Five Forks, South Carolina was 14,140 people in its 7.57 square miles. That's up from 8,064 at the 2000 census. There were 4,805 housing units. It has a homeownership rate of 92.8% as compared to 69.8% for South Carolina as a whole.


  1. There are a few River Walk streets off of the Adams Mill Rd entrance not in the Five Forks defined lines. Do you know if they are considered Simpsonville? Just asking since I am one of the residents that can NOT say they live in Five Forks, SC.
    Tina Sims

  2. Interesting, Tina. You just pointed out something I didn't notice. My first thought is that maybe Google doesn't exactly have the lines drawn correctly, or that it's changed over time. The purpose of the CDP is to categorized "settled concentrations of people" so there is no reason to exclude part of River Walk, or Holly Tree for that matter. But there is no practical advantage to living inside the defined area. But we are far from Simpsonville's city limits so none of us live in Simpsonville. We in fact live much closer to Mauldin. But we all live in unincorporated Greenville County. It is safe to say that you can identify yourself as living in Five Forks, even if that is not technically true. But again, it might be true. I have to look into Google's boundary lines.