Conveniently located right off Interstate 85, between Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA, Greenville, South Carolina offers big-city conveniences with small-town charm and hospitality. Once known as “The Textile Capital of the World,” in the 1970’s Greenville seemed destined to go the way of many struggling Southern towns and communities as overseas competition caused the majority of textile manufacturers to close their doors. Fortunately global manufacturing companies including BMW, General Electric, Rexroth Bosch and Lockheed Martin had already begun to see value in the Upstate and were working to fill the void created by the demise of the American textile industry. Today thanks to these international corporations, Greenville once again is enjoying a robust economy.
One of more than 30 American cities to have a river flowing through its downtown area, these cooling waters are what drew many of the first settlers to Greenville. In the late 1770’s Richard Pearis, was given approximately 100,000 acres of what today is known as downtown Greenville from the Cherokee Indians. He moved here from Virginia and built a plantation on the banks of the Reedy River. Later in the mid 1800’s, during the summer months, wealthy Charlestonians would flee the hot humid coastal weather for the cooler Upstate climate.
Unfortunately as the textile industry flourished over the years the river became a cesspool of pollution from the mills lining its banks. Ironically it took the textile mills closing for Greenville to realize their “diamond in the rough” and to reclaim the river and the falls. The green space around the Reedy River is now known as Falls Park and the stunning 380’ Liberty Bridge, a curved suspension pedestrian bridge overlooking the falls, is a favorite of both residents and tourists.
More than the Reedy River and Falls Park, downtown Greenville is a wonderful place to just wander the tree lined streets. There are numerous quirky coffee shops, local cafes and specialty boutiques along with Fluor Field where Greenville’s minor league baseball team, the Greenville Drive play. Art, history and culture are alive and well and all intertwined in Greenville. There is a flourishing symphony, ballet, and several theater groups along with the South's premier American art museum and a thriving artist studio district. Due to the rebirth of downtown, Greenville has gained quite a reputation as a fun-filled and action-packed tourist destination.
Greenville’s growth is also directly responsible for my family’s relocation. Born and raised in Pennsylvania I graduated from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University where I earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and met my husband Ben, a metal artist in his own right. In 2001, Ben accepted a position at the newly chartered South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and so we packed up and headed south. Now two kids and two cats later, Ben is a member of the school’s visual arts faculty while I am still creating timeless jewelry designs along with my newest venture, offering couples the opportunity to create their own wedding bands.
Rather than come to Greenville and only spend the day creating memories by making their own wedding rings, many couples are now opting to turn the unique experience of creating a lasting family heirloom into a mini-vacation. From hiking at Paris Mountain State Park, walking or biking the Swamp Rabbit Trail, taking in a Greenville Swamp Rabbit hockey game or enjoying the numerous museums and art galleries, Greenville is the perfect vacation destination with so much to see and do.
My next Greenville post will include a list of current winter activities and events in Greenville. Then throughout the coming year as the seasons change, I will continue to update my blog with the latest happenings in and around the Upstate, foodie favorites, romantic hotels, and more.
Come to Greenville to make a treasured memento of your commitment and love. Spend the weekend in Greenville and make a lifetime of memories.