Smart cities: Charleston, South Carolina
As seen in National Geographic, by Margaret Loftus
With its stately antebellum homes and cobblestone streets, Charleston, South Carolina, is steeped in history, but the town is far from preserved in amber. Rather, the Holy City—so named for its long record of religious tolerance—has embraced the future by integrating modern urban design principles into the redevelopment of its historic core and surrounding areas and welcoming forward-thinking industry such as tech companies and Volvo’s first American factory, where production is scheduled to begin in late 2018.
It also has a rich cultural life, with a dining scene on par with cities several times its size, the annual performing arts festival Spoleto USA now in its 42nd year, and the International African American Museum slated to open in 2020. Joe Riley, who served as the city’s mayor for 41 years before his retirement in 2016, says that in order to attract visitors and businesses, a city must first provide a good quality of life for all the people who live there. “That sense of shared citizenship spills over,” he says. “Charleston is uniquely poised to face the future because we have all the elements of a great city, including very livable neighborhoods, a collection of beautiful and welcoming public spaces, great educational resources, a bustling port, and a new creative economy that will only continue to grow.
(Joseph P. Riley Jr. serves his alma mater, The Citadel, as Endowed Chair American Governement and Public Policy Professor)