Taking the Long View: Mayor Joe Riley and Charleston’s Revitalization

Taking the Long View: Mayor Joe Riley and Charleston’s Revitalization

Mayor Joseph P. Riley of Charleston, South Carolina, and the National Endowment for the Arts have had a long and fruitful history. Mayor since 1975, Riley’s visionary leadership has been instrumental in Charleston’s remarkable revitalization: Riley developed attractive and practical affordable housing; he led the charge to rebuild Charleston’s waterfront and recreate it as a park—just one of the many parks built under his watch; he took a dying downtown district and restored it to a vibrant, bustling, and architecturally significant center; and he was instrumental in bringing Spoleto Festival USA to Charleston. Significantly, the National Endowment for the Arts provided necessary funding and vital support for the majority of these projects, including—or perhaps especially—the Mayors' Institute on City Design (MICD). Founded by Riley—who is still an ardent and active supporter—MICD is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the American Architectural Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

After 40 years, Riley leaves office in December, and he took this opportunity to reflect upon the pivotal role the National Endowment for the Arts played in the transformation of Charleston during his tenure.

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Music Credits:
Excerpts from: Concerto for Orchestra, performed by the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra 2014. Used courtesy of Spoleto Festival USA and WDAV.  “Brindisi” from La Traviata, composed by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by the MIT Symphony Orchestra. Used courtesy of Creative Commons and WFMU’s Free Music Archive Young People’s Chorus of New York City performing "Riki Tiki Tavi" by Faraualla, arranged by Francisco J. Núñez,. Used courtesy of Young People’s Chorus of NYC. “Jack of the Wood” and “In the Dome of the Forest,” performed by the Kruger Brothers. Used courtesy of the Kruger Brothers