It’s been four years since I (John Boyanoski) and Mayor Knox White wrote Reimagining Greenville: Building the Best Downtown in America, which tells the inside story of how downtown Greenville evolved over the past few decades.
A lot has changed in those past four years: Redevelopment of the Greenville News site has started; hundreds of more apartments have been built; the skyline has changed dramatically; growth has occurred off Main Street in droves; and so forth.
So much, that we and our publisher, Arcadia, are coming out with a new, revised edition of the book that officially launched Monday. There is a new cover, new photos and new stories. (We also cleaned up some of the mistakes of the first one that have longed driven both of the authors nuts).
It can be purchased here. Just in time for holiday shopping. Or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a copy straight from John.
Now, for the reason this book exists, which if you learned anything from reading Friday Flash is there always is a cool back story. Reimagining Greenville came about because for all of the accolades and tributes given to downtown, not a lot of people realize how hard of a struggle it was to accomplish. There was no waving of a magic wand. There was not straight forward path. There was no magic pixie dust sprinkled over everything.
A lot of the things that many folks take for granted as “having always been downtown” weren’t there just a few years ago. Newcomers and people who weren’t here at the time can’t imagine there was a highway over the Reedy River falls. They can’t fathom that it was an actual multi-decade struggle to remove the “perfectly good bridge.”
And the reason the book is being redone is because once again Greenville is facing major changes in the coming year to downtown. It would be wise to remember that all of the great things that happened downtown happened because of vision and sticking to that vision. That little things lead to big things. That we can’t change just for the sake of changing, but that we have to be strategic and smart.
With that we leave you with a quote from Knox that ends the book:
“Greenville’s success is a product of a good planning and great partnerships. We always have a plan and we stick to it. Our goal was to reimagine what a downtown can be. We wanted vibrant streets alive with people and activity long after the sun went down. That means assuring a healthy mix of residential development going beyond the nine to five office environment. We could have stopped there, but we did not. We worked hard to create lively public spaces along Main Street. We filled downtown with public art. The beautiful canopy of trees bequeathed to us by the earlier effort at redevelopment were illuminated at night. Historic buildings were valued once again. All of this enhanced the unique “personality” of our city. But certainly the determination to remove the highway bridge from atop the falls was the greatest achievement. It redefined the downtown and the city itself. The river and the falls always will be the signature attraction of Greenville. How simple is it that a city can be defined by trees (along Main Street) and water? As long as Greenville continues to value these natural assets, it can be the most beautiful and livable city in America.”