Friday, April 13, 2018

A Beautiful City Restored

No tourists visited Greenville, a small old southern city in western South Carolina, a generation ago.  It was a nasty place with derelict buildings, homeless unfortunates, trash and debris.  The heart of downtown, the Reedy River, was full of filth and its banks a convenient dumping ground for old equipment and vehicles. 

This is the centerpiece of downtown now, the same riverbank once lined with abandoned cars and polluted with industrial waste now a gorgeous park.  It runs the whole length of downtown as it meanders and tumbles through.

The father of a friend of ours, Max Heller, was the mayor who began the cleanup, lured people and big-name hotels back into the city, and transformed it into a lovely, lively place. 

We were nearby at a 90th birthday party and decided to stay a couple extra days and have a spring break.  We had so much fun!  
We parked our car at one end of the park and at the head of the trail was a Chihuly piece to welcome us.  I was so excited as I have admired other bloggers' posts on complete exhibits of his works, but this was the first piece I had seen in person.  Not my favorite Chihuly, but interesting.

From the car park, we walked a quarter of a mile down a hill, toward the bottom of the ravine.  

The graceful curve of the pedestrian bridge over the park mimics the curves of the river as it tumbles over the falls into pools where children wade and play.  It's hard to believe that above you is a city full of bumper-to-bumper traffic, rushing business people in suits and ties, construction projects ....

Above the natural falls and the dams that powered the city's industries, including  textile mills, is a second, more traditional pedestrian bridge.  This bridge leads to the bones of the original Dukes Mayonnaise factory, now converted to a performance venue with indoor and outdoor stages.  

Art galleries and sculptures are all along the river walk, and stairs lead up to the city above where the new architecture harmonizes with the old.

We enjoyed music in several of the little parks on Main Street, fancy coffees on the street, crepes for our Easter dinner, appetizers and drinks outdoors at the Hyatt Hotel.  My favorite things were how lively a city Greenville is with people everywhere day and night, and all the art everywhere you look.  I'll show you my favorite piece of all next time!  


  1. What an interesting post and nice story with all the photos. Loved it to read.

  2. The park and city look so clean and revitalized. I enjoyed all the photos.

  3. So nice to read good news about a city's rebirth.

  4. That really is a success story. Even a Chihuly has a starring role.

  5. That park looks great and I can see why you enjoyed it.
    Who are you keeping company with on Main Street? Have you heard anything from Goodnight Gram? She has been quiet since before Christmas:(

  6. Cynthia - Is this the Greenville which is joined with Spartanburg?

    I was STRANDED years ago in the "Green/Spart twin cities" and it was my worst
    experience in the USA - I think in 1988!
    I'm glad to read that if this is my ex-Greenville it seems to have improved.
    It certainly couldn't have gone backwards - I hope.

  7. We like to hear stories of how a city has been reinvented.

  8. Now the city is looking beautiful..

  9. Nice to see an abandoned place get a transformation..... and music all over.

  10. It is heartwarming to read of a transformation like this. It is to be hoped that more cities can be rescued from the sad plight in which they find themselves, because some of them look pretty bad.

  11. How neat to see a city reborn. Your photos did it justice...:)

  12. Such a joy to read how this run down area has been revitalised and is now such a great place to visit.

  13. How wonderful and it looks rather nice.

  14. What a lovely impromptu extended Spring Break. It is always heartening to know that places can transform from a dump to a glory fitting of its name! I think your new friend in the last photo and am looking forward to seeing your favourite piece next time!
    Have a lovely week.
    Wren x

  15. Dear Cynthia, this was such an interesting posting. To think that one man--the mayor you mentioned--had the vision to bring back a town from decrepitude to this lovely, delightful park with buildings that welcome art and all sorts of meeting places. What a vision he had and how he must have worked to see it realized.

    I've never heard of Chihuly before. So I shall now go to Google and Wikipedia and look up the word! Thanks for whetting my appetite for research! And thank you also for all the information you have given me that will help me get word of the convent memoir--Prayer Wasn't Enough--out to readers. You have been extraordinarily generous. Peace.

  16. It sure looks a nice town now. Its great to see old run down towns being rejuvenated.