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Text of Charleston Mayor Riley's talk at the Albany Roundtable in June 2000

MAYOR JOSEPH RILEY

ALBANY ROUND TABLE

IT'S A WONDERFUL THRILL FOR ME TO BE HERE. I

HAVE NEVER BEEN TO ALBANY. MY TALK IS GREAT

AMERICAN CITIES, CHARLESTON AND ALBANY, AND THIS IS

A GREAT AMERICAN CITY THAT I HAVE NEVER HAD THE

OPPORTUNITY TO VISIT.

I HAVE, OF COURSE, READ ABOUT IT SINCE A CHILD

AND YOUR HISTORY -- YOUR LONG HISTORY, YOUR

CONTEMPORARY HISTORY AND THE PHYSICAL BEAUTY OF

ALBANY, THE HUDSON RIVER, IS WHAT HAS MADE ME WANT

TO BE HERE, AND YOUR MAYORS, JERRY AND MARK, ARE

COLLEAGUES OF MINE. I REMEMBER WHEN JERRY RECEIVED

THE CITY LIVABILITY AWARD FROM THE U.S. CONFERENCE

OF MAYORS A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, ABOUT HIS

WONDERFUL KIDS IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT, WHICH I FOUND

SO INSPIRATIONAL AND HELPFUL TO ME.

I COME HERE CERTAINLY NOT AS AN EXPERT. AS

JERRY WHISPERED TO ME, WE ARE BOTH PRODUCTS OF

ON-THE-JOB TRAINING, AND I COME HERE NOT AS A

TEACHER. I COME HERE AS A FELLOW CITIZEN OF THE

CITY AND TO TALK ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES, BUT WE EACH

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CAN SHARE EXPERIENCES WITH EACH OTHER, AND THE

PURPOSE, I THINK, OF SOMETHING LIKE THIS IS

REINFORCEMENT, AND BY TALKING ABOUT SOME OF THE

THINGS WE HAVE DONE IN CHARLESTON WILL CONJURE UP

IN YOUR MIND OPPORTUNITIES. THE THINGS HERE ARE

THINGS THAT YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING ON, AND YOU

NEEDED SOME REINFORCEMENT THAT SAYS, YEAH, THAT'S

RIGHT.

BEING A POLITICIAN AND A PUBLIC SPEAKER, I

OFTEN SAY THINGS THAT I ALMOST MEANT TO SAY. YOU

KNOW, LIKE GERALD FORD, ONE DAY WHEN HE WAS IN THE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THEY WERE ABOUT TO DO

SOMETHING, AND HE WAS SO UPSET ABOUT IT. HE SAID,

"IF ABRAHAM LINCOLN WERE ALIVE TODAY AND SAW THIS,

HE'D ROLL OVER IN HIS GRAVE."

THE GREAT NEW YORKER, YOGI BERRA, WHEN TOLD

THAT IRELAND HAD ELECTED A JEWISH MAYOR, SAID, "YOU

KNOW, ONLY IN AMERICA CAN THESE KINDS OF THINGS

HAPPEN." AND HE ALSO ONE SUMMER DAY -- YOU

PROBABLY KNOW ALL THE YOGI STORIES -- SAW THIS

LADY. IT WAS A VERY HOT DAY, AND YOGI WAS DRESSED

UP IN A REALLY NEAT, COOL SUMMER SUIT, AND SHE

SAID, "YOGI, YOU LOOK SO COOL," AND HE SAID, "YOU

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DON'T LOOK SO HOT YOURSELF."

OR THE FORMER, THE OLDER MAYOR RICHARD DALY,

SPEAKING TO A HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR CLASS, AS WE DO IN

SEEKING TO CHALLENGE THEM, ONCE SAID, "YOU KNOW, IN

LIFE WE MUST ALWAYS SEEK HIGHER AND HIGHER

PLATITUDES." WELL, WHAT I WILL TRY NOT TO DO TODAY

IS JUST GIVE YOU A SERIES OF PLATITUDES -- SOME

THOUGHTS.

BEAUTIFUL, LIVABLE, INVIGORATING AND

INSPIRATIONAL CITIES ARE ESSENTIAL TO THE QUALITY

OF LIFE OF OUR COUNTRY. THAT IS NEW. THAT IS

RELATIVELY NEW. WE ARE NOT A CULTURE CREATED TO

DEVELOP CITIES. WE ARE A CULTURE CREATED BECAUSE

WE HAVE THIS VAST CONTINENT TO CONQUER, AND WE

COULD MOVE AND KEEP MOVING AND CONQUER AND MOVING.

JANE JACOBS WROTE IN HER BOOK ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO,

CITIES AND THE WEALTH OF NATIONS, THAT IT IS NOW

THE METROPOLITAN REGION AND THE ECONOMIES AND

CITIES THAT LOSE THE SPIRIT AND THE ART AND THE

DETERMINATION OF CREATING LIVELY AND LIVABLE PLACES

ARE CITIES THAT AREN'T GOING TO PROSPER. OUR

COUNTRY IS DEPENDENT UPON INVIGORATED AND BEAUTIFUL

CITIES. AMERICANS DON'T LIVE ON THE FARMS ANY MORE

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FOR THE MOST PART. THEY LIVE IN METROPOLITAN

AREAS, AND WHAT GOES ON IN THE CENTER AND THE SPARK

AND QUALITY OF LIFE IN THE CENTER SHAPES THE

REGION, SHAPES THE ECONOMY AND SHAPES THE LIFE OF

OUR PEOPLE, AND THIS IS RELATIVELY NEW IN THE

EXPERIENCE OF AMERICA.

SECOND THOUGHT IS THAT WE NEVER HAVE TO SAY IN

AMERICA, "ISN'T IT TOO BAD." YOU KNOW, I WISH WE

COULD DO THAT. "ISN'T IT TOO BAD WE GOT THIS." WE

DON'T HAVE TO SAY THAT. IT IS WE, OUR CITIES, OUR

COMMUNITIES, OUR NEIGHBORHOODS, CAN BE WHATEVER WE

WANT THEM TO BE. THERE'S NO ONE TO TELL US THAT WE

CAN'T DO IT IF WE WILL.

IN CHARLESTON WHEN I WAS A CHILD THEY CALLED

THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY THE "HYSTERICAL" SOCIETY.

I'M 57 YEARS OLD. THE PRESERVATIONISTS WERE TRYING

TO KEEP YOU FROM TEARING DOWN FADED BUILDINGS.

BECAUSE OF THE WORK OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, THE

CHARLESTON FOUNDATION AND PRESERVATION SOCIETY,

CHARLESTON IS IN A BOOM.

YOU KNOW, IT IS NOW THE STORIES OF THE

BUILDINGS THEY DIDN'T SAVE THAT MAKE YOU CRY. THE

CHARLESTON HOTEL DESIGNED BY ROBERT MILLS.

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DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION IN 1860 MET THERE.

DEMOLISHED. WHY DID THEY DEMOLISH IT? BECAUSE

EVERYBODY KNEW YOU COULDN'T BE A GREAT CITY WITHOUT

A DRIVE-IN MOTEL. RIGHT? YOU HAD TO HAVE THAT

DRIVE-IN MOTEL TO BE A GREAT CITY. SO THEY TORE

THAT DOWN.

THE FIRST ORPHANAGE IN AMERICA, IN THE '50S

THEY TORE DOWN. WHY? TO KEEP SEARS IN TOWN.

WHERE IS SEARS NOW? FIFTEEN MILES OUT OF TOWN.

FIRST ORPHANAGE IN AMERICA DESTROYED, BUT FOR THE

MOST PART OUR CITIZENS HAVE THE CAPACITY TO SAVE

THE BUILDINGS.

WHY DO WE NEED TO SAVE THEM? WE NEED TO SAVE

THEM BECAUSE WE ARE A YOUNG NATION. WE DON'T WANT

TO JUST BE A 50-YEAR OLD CULTURE 200 YEARS FROM

NOW. WE NEED THE TEXTURE. EVERY BUILDING THAT WE

HAVE THAT WE CAN POSSIBLY SAVE GIVES COMMUNITIES

MEMORIES. IT GIVES IT SCALE. IT GIVES THEM THE

RHYTHM. IT GIVES IT A HEART AND, YOU KNOW, ALMOST

NEVER CAN YOU REPLACE WITH EQUAL QUALITY WHAT YOU

HAVE DESTROYED.

IN CHARLESTON THERE'S A LITTLE STREET, QUEENS

STREET. THERE'S A BEAT-UP OLD BUILDING 25 YEARS

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AGO, AND WHEN HISTORIC PRESERVATIONISTS ARGUED TO

SAVE IT, A LOT OF PEOPLE SAID, "WHY THE HECK?" NOW

IT'S A BEAUTIFUL INN. THERE'S A BEAUTIFUL

RESTAURANT NEXT TO IT. THAT ONE BUILDING, IF LOST,

THE REST OF THE STREET WOULD HAVE NEVER MADE IT.

IT WOULD BE A BLAND STREET OF SAMENESS EVEN IF

RE-BUILT. IT WAS SAVED. HISTORIC PRESERVATION HAS

MADE THE CITY OF CHARLESTON WHAT IT IS, AND IN

CITIES LARGE AND SMALL, OLD AND YOUNG, IN AMERICA

IT HAS BECOME THE MOST POWERFUL ARCHITECTURAL

MOVEMENT.

THE SECOND THOUGHT I HAVE IS THAT THERE IS

NEVER ANY EXCUSE TO BUILD ANYTHING THAT DOESN'T ADD

TO THE BEAUTY OF A CITY. TWENTY-SOME YEARS AGO A

HOUSING AUTHORITY GOT A GRANT FOR A NEW PUBLIC

HOUSING PROJECT. THEY WERE SO EXCITED. THEY

CALLED ME, SAID, "MAYOR, WE GOT 121 UNITS READY TO

BUILD. WE KNOW WHERE TO PUT THE PROJECT. TEAR

DOWN A FEW BUILDINGS HERE. TEAR DOWN A FEW THERE."

I SAID, "NO. NO MORE PROJECTS." THEY SAID,

"YOU'RE CRAZY. WE GOT ALL THESE POOR PEOPLE ON

WAITING LISTS." YOU KNOW, "YOU'LL BE IMPEACHED."

I SAID, "NO, I KNOW ABOUT POOR PEOPLE ON WAITING

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LISTS, BUT WE'RE NOT GOING TO DO THE PROJECTS ANY

MORE. THEY DIDN'T WORK." THEIR MOTTO WAS THROW A

BUNCH OF POOR PEOPLE IN THERE AND THEN COMPLAIN

THAT IT DOESN'T WORK. IGNORE NEIGHBORHOOD. IGNORE

SCALE. IGNORE STREET. IGNORE INDIVIDUALITY.

IGNORE STYLE. IT'S UGLY. WE'RE NOT GOING TO DO

IT. WE ARE GOING TO SCATTER THEM THROUGHOUT OUR

NEIGHBORHOODS AND DESIGN THEM INDIVIDUALLY. SO

THEY RELUCTANTLY AGREED AND WENT ABOUT THE BUSINESS

OF PICKING THE SITES AND THAT CREATED SOME

INTERESTING DEBATE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. YOU KNOW,

THE AVERAGE AMERICAN DOESN'T TURN TO THEIR SPOUSE

IN THE MORNING AND SAY, "HONEY, WOULDN'T IT BE

GREAT IF WE GOT SOME PUBLIC HOUSING NEXT DOOR. YOU

KNOW, WE NEVER HAD ANY PUBLIC HOUSING NEXT DOOR.

IT WOULD BE REALLY BE NICE."

SO WE WORKED THROUGH ALL THAT, AND THEN WE

HIRED ARCHITECTS WHO DESIGNED THE HOUSING. IT WAS

UGLY, SO WE FIRED THEM AND HIRED SOME OTHER

ARCHITECTS, AND THEY GOT THE MESSAGE. AFTER WE

OPENED THEM, I WENT TO A RECEPTION AT THE PRESIDENT

OF ONE OF OUR COLLEGE'S HOUSE ONE EVENING, AND A

SERVANT CAME UP TO ME, SERVING FOOD. SHE HAD A

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MILLISECOND TO SAY SOMETHING TO THE MAYOR WHO WAS A

GUEST, AND SHE SAID, "MAYOR REILLY, I WANT TO THANK

YOU," AND I SAID "WHAT'S THAT FOR, MA'AM?" SHE

SAID, "BECAUSE MONDAY I AM MOVING INTO SEVEN MARION

STREET" -- ONE OF THESE PUBLIC HOUSING BUILDINGS --

"AND IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL." AND WHY NOT? WHATEVER IT

IS, IF WE BUILD SOMETHING, IF IT DOESN'T ADD TO THE

BEAUTY OF THE COMMUNITY, WE SHOULDN'T BUILD IT.

NOW THOSE PUBLIC HOUSING BUILDINGS BECAME

CATALYTIC AGENTS. I CAN SHOW YOU PUBLIC HOUSING --

TWO APARTMENTS, THREE APARTMENTS, A BUILDING --

THAT STARTED THE RESTORATION OF A NEIGHBORHOOD.

SURE, POOR PEOPLE LIVE IN THERE, BUT WITH GOOD

URBAN DESIGN AND A COMMITMENT TO BEAUTY. WE WON A

TOP PRESIDENTIAL DESIGN AWARD FOR THAT.

WE ARE BUILDING HOUSING, TRANSITIONAL HOUSING.

PEOPLE MOVING OUT OF THE SHELTER. RATHER THAN

BUILD SOMETHING UGLY, WE GOT AN ARCHITECT,

CHALLENGED HIM, BUILT IT. WON A TOP AIA AWARD.

WE BUILT PARKING GARAGES. I SAID, "WE ARE NOT

GOING TO BUILD PARKING GARAGES THAT LOOK LIKE

PARKING GARAGES." THE ARCHITECT SAID, "YOU'RE

CRAZY, MAYOR. THE BUILDING HAS TO LOOK LIKE WHAT

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IT IS." I SAID, "NOT IN CHARLESTON IT DOESN'T.

NOT A PARKING GARAGE. WE ARE GOING TO MAKE THEM

BEAUTIFUL." WE WOUND UP WITH DESIGNS TO OUR

PARKING GARAGES.

THE HEAD OF THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE

ARTS CAME TO CHARLESTON TO GIVE US AN AWARD FOR

ONE. I THOUGHT HE HAD BEEN BRIEFED AND KNEW WHERE

IT WAS. WE WALKED PAST THE PARKING GARAGE TO HAVE

LUNCH. WE WERE GOING TO GIVE THE AWARD AFTER

LUNCH. HE SAID, "BY THE WAY, JOE, POINT OUT THE

PARKING GARAGE TO ME." I SAID, "FRANK, YOU JUST

PASSED IT." HE SAID, "THAT DOESN'T LOOK LIKE A

PARKING GARAGE." I SAID, "WELL, THAT'S THE POINT."

WE JUST BUILT A PUMP STATION, A BIG DRAINAGE

PROJECT IN DOWNTOWN. I TOLD OUR PEOPLE, I SAID,

"WHAT DID THE ROMANS DO WHEN THEY BUILT PUBLIC

WORKS? THEY BUILT THEM BEAUTIFULLY." IT'S THE

PRETTIEST PUMP STATION THAT YOU EVER SAW.

WE HAVE A BOARD OF ARCHITECTS REVIEW THAT

CREATE THE DESIGN AND A FEW COMMITTEES AS WELL TO

MAKE SURE ANYTHING THE CITY DOES -- IF IT'S A

BENCH, IF IT'S A PARK, IF IT'S A STREET LIGHT, IF

IT'S NEAR STREETS, IF IT'S A CURB, IT'S A RADIUS OR

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WHATEVER -- TO MAKE SURE THAT IT PASSES THE TEST.

WE GOT A VACANT LOT -- UGLY VACANT LOT. WE HAD

MENTALLY ILL HOUSING WE NEEDED TO PRODUCE. SMALL

NUMBER OF PEOPLE. THEY ARE NOT INSTITUTIONALIZED.

THEY'RE ON SOME MEDICINE. GOOD URBAN DESIGN. IT'S

THE PRETTIEST THING YOU EVER SAW. WE GOT A

DIFFICULT POPULATION. IT'S A CATALYST TO RESTORE

THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS ARE

IN IT.

WE BUILT A NEW VISITOR'S CENTER. WE ACTUALLY

RESTORED AN OLD RAILROAD BUILDING. GREAT

COMMITMENT TO URBAN DESIGN. IT'S SO THRILLING. I

GO BY THERE. NOW, THIS IS UPTOWN. YOU STILL GOT

THE WHOLE HISTORIC DISTRICT TO SEE AND YOU PARK

YOUR CAR AND YOU ARE GETTING READY TO SEE

CHARLESTON, AND PEOPLE ARE POSING IN FRONT OF THE

VISITOR'S CENTER TO HAVE THEIR PICTURE TAKEN. WHEN

YOU GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN WHEN YOU GO TO A PLACE

BECAUSE YOU WANT TO REMEMBER THE IMPORTANT SITES,

WELL, THEY DO THAT AT THE VISITOR'S CENTER BEFORE

THEY START AND, YOU KNOW, I WATCH PEOPLE. WE OFTEN

THINK THAT THIS IS ELITISM. YOU KNOW, BEAUTY,

STUFF LIKE THAT. I WATCH THE PEOPLE WHO VISIT

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CHARLESTON. YOU KNOW, THEY ARE TIRED, BLUE COLLAR

WORKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES AND OTHERS, AND I WATCH

THEM LOOK AT OUR CITY, AND WHAT THEY ARE DOING IS

THEY ARE SOAKING UP THE BEAUTY. WE ALL NEED IT.

WE DID AN INTERSECTION -- WELL, I'M JUMPING

AHEAD OF MYSELF. I WENT TO A LIQUOR STORE ONE DAY

TO BUY SOME LIQUOR, AND IT'S AN INTERESTING LIQUOR

STORE BECAUSE EVERYBODY IN THERE WEARS A PISTOL AND

THEY DON'T HAVE THEIR JACKETS ON. I MEAN, YOU SEE

THE PISTOLS. IT'S IN A HOLSTER, YOU KNOW, RIGHT

THERE. IT'S A VERY SAFE LIQUOR STORE. THE GUY WHO

RUNS IT, I KNEW IN HIGH SCHOOL. HE WENT TO A

DIFFERENT HIGH SCHOOL. HE WAS A LOT BIGGER THAN

ME, AND I WAS REALLY AFRAID OF HIM, BUT WE HAVE

GOTTEN TO BE VERY GOOD FRIENDS. I WENT IN THE

LIQUOR STORE ONE DAY. THESE GUYS ARE LEANING ON

THE PISTOL, AND THEY ALL CONVERGED ON THE COUNTER,

LIKE YOU WERE ABOUT TO GET A LITTLE COMEUPPANCE,

AND THEY WANTED TO TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS

INTERSECTION THAT WE HAD PUT A LITTLE GREEN SPACE

IN, A LITTLE TRIANGLE, TREES AND GRASS. IT HAD

JUST BEEN ASPHALT. ONE FELLOW LEANED ON HIS PISTOL

AND SAID, "JOE, THAT'S THE PRETTIEST THING I EVER

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SAW." HE SAYS, "JOE, YOU KNOW WHERE I LIVE, DON'T

YOU?" I SAID "YEAH." HE SAID, "I DRIVE FOUR

MILES OUT OF MY WAY GOING HOME JUST TO GO BY THAT."

THEN THEY WANTED TO TALK ABOUT FLOWER BEDS WE

PLANTED. THEN THEY WANTED TO GET INTO URBAN DESIGN

AND HOW A NEW BUILDING THAT HAD BEEN BUILT SO WELL

FIT IN WITH THE OLD BUILDINGS. GUYS IN YOUR HOME

TOWN, YOU KNOW, WEARING A PISTOL, SELLING LIQUOR.

THEY WANT TO TALK ABOUT BEAUTY. IT'S A BASIC HUMAN

NEED, AND THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS THAT GREAT

CITIES -- GREAT CITIES -- CITIES LIKE ALBANY AND

LIKE CHARLESTON OR LIKE PARIS AND LONDON AND ROME

-- GREAT CITIES HAVE ALWAYS GIVEN THAT TO THE

PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE. THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO BUILD

ANYTHING THAT DOESN'T ADD TO BEAUTY.

IN ENGLAND THEY CALL A PLAN A SCALE. NOW,

THAT'S JUST THEIR WORD FOR IT. IT'S NOTHING ADDED.

THAT'S JUST WHAT THEY CALL IT, BUT, YOU KNOW, IT'S

A BETTER TERM BECAUSE WHAT WE SHOULD WANT TO DO,

WHAT WE SHOULD FEEL THE RESPONSIBILITY TO DO IS TO

ALWAYS BE CREATIVELY, POSITIVELY, ENERGETICALLY

SCALING AND PLANNING ABOUT WHAT OUR CITY SHOULD BE.

SEE, ONE OF THE PROBLEMS IS THAT THE SUBURBAN

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DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICA, LARGELY POST-WORLD WAR II,

WAS A SITUATION OF DEVELOPERS WITH THEIR VISION

BUYING A TRACT OF FARM LAND AND CREATING SOMETHING.

SO WE HAD A FEW GENERATIONS OF THE LOSS OF FEELING

OF THE CAPACITY FOR CITY MAKING. THERE'S A CULTURE

TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS FIRST, NOT THAT WE ARE

TRYING TO TELL SOMEONE HOW TO RUN A BUSINESS, NO.

WE ARE JUST DETERMINING WHAT OUR CITY SHOULD BE,

HOW IT SHOULD BE ORGANIZED.

SO WHENEVER WE HAVE A VISIONING PROCESS, IT'S

REALLY THE MOST IMPORTANT WORK THAT A COMMUNITY CAN

DO, AND IT'S THE HARDEST WORK. I'LL GIVE YOU AN

EXAMPLE. WE HAVE A STREET, CALHOUN STREET, IN

CHARLESTON. A BIG BRIDGE WAS COMING IN ON ONE END

OF THE STREET AND WE WERE BUILDING AN AQUARIUM ON

THE OTHER END. CHARLESTON IS A PENINSULA.

PROBABLY THE STREET IS ONLY A MILE LONG FROM ONE

RIVER TO THE OTHER. PRESERVATION ORGANIZATION CAME

TO ME AND THEY SAID, "JOE, YOU'VE GOT TO PLAN FOR

CALHOUN STREET. YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A LOT OF

DEVELOPMENT PRESSURE." I SAID, "WE DON'T. WE

SHOULD. I'M SORRY, YEAH, LET'S GET ON IT." SO I

GOT ALL OF THE ORGANIZATIONS TOGETHER IN THE

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NEIGHBORHOOD -- CIVIC GROUPS, COLLEGES, HOSPITALS,

AND EVERYBODY, AND WE CAME UP -- THE COMMUNITY CAME

UP WITH A VISION FOR CALHOUN STREET. WE DIDN'T

HAVE ONE BEFORE. ANYTHING COULD HAVE HAPPENED

THERE. WE HAD BEEN TOO LAZY. WHAT THE PROCESS

SAID WAS IT COULD BE A GREAT URBAN BOULEVARD, FINE

CIVIC BUILDINGS. YOU DON'T NEED MOTELS ALONG

THERE. DON'T INTRODUCE NEW RETAIL. PUT SOME CIVIC

BUILDINGS.

SO WE DID THE VISIONING. SOME FRIENDS OF MINE

CAME FORWARD AND BOUGHT AN EMPTY LOT TO PUT UP A

CHEAP MOTEL. THEY WERE GOING TO MAKE BUCKETS OF

MONEY. THESE WERE GOOD FRIENDS OF MINE, BUT THE

VISION SAID NO. THAT'S NOT THE PLACE FOR IT. SO

WE STOPPED THE CHEAP MOTEL BY ONE VOTE ON THE CITY

COUNCIL. THE COUNTY WAS LOOKING FOR A PLACE. WE

BOUGHT LAND, GAVE IT TO THE COUNTY, A BEAUTIFUL NEW

MAIN LIBRARY BUILDING INSTEAD OF A CHEAP MOTEL.

ACROSS THE STREET THERE'S A SURFACE PARKING

LOT, AND THE SCHOOL BOARD WAS GOING TO MOVE THERE

FROM DOWNTOWN. WE DID A DEAL WITH THEM. WE GOT

THE SCHOOL BOARD HEADQUARTERS, A BEAUTIFUL

BUILDING, DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET FROM A LIBRARY

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INSTEAD OF A SURFACE PARKING LOT AND A CHEAP MOTEL

BECAUSE THE COMMUNITY DECIDED TO DEVELOP A VISION

FOR HOW IT SHOULD BE.

DR. MARGOLIS WAS TALKING AT BREAKFAST THIS

MORNING -- Y'ALL LUCKILY SENT HIM TO CHARLESTON A

QUARTER OF A CENTURY AGO -- ABOUT A FELLOW WHO USED

TO GO DOWN TO MAIN STREET. WELL, A GUY NAMED EMIL

CUOMO WORKED WITH MY FATHER. HIS NICKNAME WAS

COCO. HE WOULD GO IN CHARLESTON TO THE CORNER OF

BRENTWORTH AND KING STREET. KING STREET WAS OUR

MAIN STREET, WALGREEN'S DRUG STORE EVERY SATURDAY.

I LATER FOUND OUT THAT MRS. CUOMO WOULD GIVE HIM A

DOLLAR TO TAKE DOWN TO KING STREET FOR THE DAY.

AND THERE HE STOOD ON HIS MAIN STREET AND WATCHED

THE WORLD COME AND GO. THAT WAS HIS ENTERTAINMENT.

WHEN WE FIGHT TO SAVE OUR MAIN STREETS, IT'S

REALLY NOT ABOUT THE TAX BASE AND THE JOBS FIRST.

THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT. IT'S THE PUBLIC REALM.

IT'S THE DEMOCRATIC SPACE. IT'S THE CENTER OF OUR

CITY THAT SHOULD BE THE PLACE WHERE THE EMIL

CUOMOS, OR ANYONE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER, CAN COME

DOWN. THEY OWN IT. THEY DON'T OWN THE MALL. THEY

OWN THE DOWNTOWN -- THE BUILDING, THE SIDEWALK, THE

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STREET, THE BUILDING, THE COMMERCE, THE ENERGY, THE

ELBOW CONTACT, THE EYE CONTACT, THE FEELING OF A

SENSE OF CITIZENSHIP AND CIVIC INVOLVEMENT. THAT'S

WHY WE HAVE TO SAVE OUR DOWNTOWN. WE CANNOT IN

AMERICA SENTENCE FUTURE GENERATIONS TO INCREASED

PRIVATE CHALLENGES.

ONE OF THE THINGS WRONG WITH OUR CULTURE RIGHT

NOW BETWEEN TELEVISION, AIR-CONDITIONING, AND

EVERYTHING ELSE, WE SELDOM GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO

BE ENERGIZED BY EACH OTHER. WHITE PEOPLE ENERGIZED

BY BLACK, OLD, YOUNG, RICH, POOR, URBAN, SUBURBAN,

WHATEVER. THAT'S WHY WE HAVE TO FIGHT IN

CHARLESTON.

AND KEN GIFFORD IS HERE. HE HELPED US WITH

OUR ORIGINAL PLANNING. OUR DOWNTOWN WAS DEAD. ONE

SATURDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS RIGHT AFTER I WAS ELECTED

MAYOR, I WENT DUTIFULLY TO MY MAIN STREET TO SHOP,

PARKED BEHIND A BUILDING, WALKED THROUGH THE

BUILDING, GOT TO THE SIDEWALK, LOOKED UP THE

SIDEWALK, SATURDAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS. NOBODY WAS

THERE. THE SIDEWALK WAS EMPTY. WITH A GOOD

STRATEGIC PLAN, PUTTING ONE PIECE AT A TIME,

FIGHTING FOR FACADE GRANTS, PEOPLE LIVING ON SECOND

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AND THIRD FLOOR, NOT LETTING THINGS BE TORN DOWN,

AND ALL LIKE THAT, PUT IN REDEVELOPMENT. IT IS THE

LIVELIEST SHOPPING DISTRICT OF A CITY OUR SIZE I

KNOW OF IN AMERICA. WE EVEN GOT A SAKS FIFTH

AVENUE NOW ACROSS THE STREET FROM WHAT WAS A VACANT

LOT. MAYBE A HUNDRED BUILDINGS HAVE BEEN RESTORED,

A BILLION DOLLARS HAS BEEN INVESTED, BUT, YOU KNOW,

MORE THAN THE NUMBERS. A FEW YEARS AGO I WAS

WALKING UP KING STREET SUNDAY MORNING AFTER CHURCH

TO BUY A NEW YORK TIMES, AS A MATTER OF FACT, AND I

SAW THIS FELLOW WALKING DOWN THE SIDEWALK, NOON ON

SUNDAY, RETIRED, HE WAS MARRIED, LIVED IN THE

SUBURBS, BY HIMSELF. I SAID, "HI, HOW ARE YOU

DOING?" HE SAID "FINE." I SAID, "WHAT ARE YOU

DOING DOWN HERE NOW?" AND THEN HE KIND OF BLUSHED,

LIKE HE WAS KIND OF FORCED TO REVEAL AN EMOTION

THAT HE HADN'T PLANNED TO REVEAL, AND HE SAID,

"WELL, JOE," HE SAID, "DORIS AND I WENT TO EARLY

CHURCH. SHE HAD SOME CHORES TO DO AROUND THE

HOUSE, AND I -- I" -- HE STARTED STUMBLING -- HE

SAID, "JOE, I'LL BE HONEST WITH YOU. I JUST LIKE

TO COME DOWN HERE AND PARK MY CAR AND WALK AROUND

BECAUSE THINGS ARE SO PRETTY NOW AND I'M SO PROUD

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OF THEM."

THAT'S WHY WE DO IT, SO THAT THE HEART OF OUR

CITY IS A PLACE THAT ENGENDERS PRIDE AND AFFECTION

AND NOURISHES OUR PEOPLE.

WE ALSO HAVE TO HAVE A COMMITMENT TO THE

PUBLIC REALM. I OFTEN SAY THAT WHAT YOU WANT IN

THE HEART OF A CITY IS SOMETHING TO WHERE THIS WILL

HAPPEN. YOUR COLLEGE ROOMMATE COMES TO VISIT YOU

OR THE BEST MAN OR MAID OF HONOR IN YOUR WEDDING

AND THEY LIVE IN ANOTHER PART OF THE COUNTRY, AND

THEY GET IN LATE IN THE EVENING, AND YOU SIT DOWN

AT THE COFFEE TABLE AND YOU START PLANNING THE NEXT

DAY, AND YOU SAY, "ALL RIGHT, NOW, LET ME TELL YOU

WHAT. THE FIRST THING WE ARE GOING TO DO TOMORROW

IS WE WILL TAKE YOU DOWNTOWN TO SEE WHATEVER, IT

DOESN'T MATTER WHAT. THAT'S WHAT WE NEED TO FIGHT

FOR, IS TO HAVE THOSE PLACES THAT WE REVERE, THAT

WE LOVE IN THE HEART OF OUR CITY BECAUSE WE SO

BADLY IN AMERICA NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THE PEOPLE

OUTSIDE THE DOWNTOWN HAVE AS MUCH LOVE AND

AFFECTION FOR THE DOWNTOWN AS PEOPLE WHO LIVE

THERE. THAT'S WHAT MAKES THE THINGS WORK.

WE HAD A BURNED OUT PIER AREA THAT HAD BEEN A

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PIER, BURNED OUT IN THE '50S, AND A DEVELOPER WAS

GOING TO BUILD VENICE OF THE SOUTHEAST ON

CHARLESTON HARBOR -- HIGH-RISE, A LOT OF TAX BASE,

AND ALL LIKE THAT, AND WE SAID, "NO. WE WANT A

PARK." AND HE WAS DISAPPOINTED IN THAT, AND WE

SAID, "WELL, WE CONDEMN," AND HE SAID THAT I WAS A

HITLER-LIKE DICTATOR, AND WENT AHEAD AND MOVED, AND

IT WAS INTERESTING. A COUPLE OF YEARS AFTER WE

WORKED OUT ALL THE STUFF, IT TOOK US A COUPLE OF

YEARS, AND LAND TRANSFER, TAX DEAL AND ALL ON THE

UP AND UP. WE HAD THE DEED SIGNING AND HE CALLED

ME A -- HE SAID I REMINDED HIM OF WINSTON

CHURCHILL, WHICH WAS AN INTERESTING TURN OF EVENTS,

BUT WE CREATED THERE A WONDERFUL WATER PARK.

IT'S THE MOST LOVED PLACE IN OUR CITY.

CHARLESTONIANS CAN'T IMAGINE THE CITY WITHOUT IT,

AND ALL THE LAND VALUES AROUND IT HAVE SKYROCKETED,

OF COURSE. YOU ALWAYS GET YOUR MONEY BACK, AND

STARTED OUR COMMITMENT TO THE WATERS EDGE, AND WE

HAVE GOT A PLAN NOW FOR CONTINUED WATER FRONT

ACCESS ALL AROUND OUR PENINSULA IN DIFFERENT WAYS

AND IN DIFFERENT PHASES.

WE BUILT A NEW BASEBALL PARK. JERRY AND I ARE

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TALKING ABOUT THAT. BUILT IT ON THE WATER.

BEAUTIFUL SITE. IT WAS A COMPLICATED SITE. IT WAS

A LANDFILL SITE. IT WAS A HEADACHE SITE, AND IT

COSTS A LOT OF MONEY, AND MY OPPONENTS WHEN I RAN

LAST TIME SAID, "YOU KNOW, THE MAYOR DIDN'T TELL

YOU HE COULD HAVE BUILT THE PARK ON FREE LAND OUT

ON THE EDGE OF TOWN." I SAID, "NO, I DIDN'T. I

DIDN'T TELL YOU THAT BECAUSE I DIDN'T THINK YOU

CARED ABOUT THAT BECAUSE I DON'T BELIEVE IN GIVING

CITIZENS THE CHEAP LAND. GIVE CITIZENS THE FINEST

LAND." WE SET RECORDS NOW GOING TO THE BASEBALL

PARK. IT'S THE PRETTIEST MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

PARK IN AMERICA. IT'S ON THE WATER. PEOPLE SEE

THE SUNSET. THEY'RE HOLDING THEIR KIDS' HANDS.

THEY'RE WITH THEIR GIRLFRIEND OR THEIR SPOUSE.

THEY'RE BONDING. THEY'RE BUILDING MEMORIES IN THIS

CITY IN A PUBLIC PLACE.

WE JUST OPENED UP A NEW AQUARIUM ON THE WATER

FRONT. IT'S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SITE, AN AQUARIUM

IN AMERICA, AND IT'S A WONDERFUL BUILDING AND THE

EXHIBITS ARE TERRIFIC, BUT EVERYBODY IN THE LAST

THREE WEEKS THAT IT'S BEEN OPEN THAT I HAVE TALKED

TO, WHAT THEY WANT TO TALK TO ME ABOUT IS THE VIEWS

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FROM THE WATER AND HOW BEAUTIFUL AND HOW WONDERFUL

IT IS.

WHEN WE WERE BUILDING THE WATER FRONT PARK, WE

REDID AN OLD SECTION FIRST AND BUILT IT SO IT WOULD

GO OUT INTO THE WATER AND DIDN'T PUT A RAIL AROUND

IT, AND THE ARCHITECT SAID, "THAT'S WHAT YOU WANT

TO DO," AND I THOUGHT WE NEEDED A FENCE OR RAIL

AROUND IT. I WAS WORRIED ABOUT THE KIDS FALLING

AND THEY SAID, "NO, JOE, IT WILL WORK. IT'S

GRANITE STONE. PEOPLE SIT ON IT," LIKE THAT, AND I

SAID, "ALL RIGHT."

SO ONE MORNING I WAS JOGGING AT SUN UP, AND I

JOG PAST THERE AND THERE WAS A FELLOW SITTING ON

THE GRANITE STONES, JUST LIKE THEY SAID. I KNEW

HIM AND I DIDN'T BOTHER HIM -- KEPT ON JOGGING.

SAW HIM A COUPLE OF WEEKS LATER. HIS NAME WAS

CLARENCE HOPKINS. HE WAS AN EPILEPTIC. HE LIVED

WITH HIS MOTHER. HE RODE A BICYCLE. TALKED ODDLY.

HIS JOB WAS SWEEPING UP IN FRONT OF A FILLING

STATION AND SHINING SHOES. FREQUENTLY HE HAD

SEIZURES ON THE STREET. PEOPLE WOULD HELP HIM. I

SAID, "CLARENCE, I SAW YOU AT THE PARK THE OTHER

MORNING." HE SAID, "YEAH." I SAID, "YOU GO THERE

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OFTEN?" HE SAID, "I GO EVERY MORNING." AND I SAID

"WHY?" HE SAID, "BECAUSE IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL, AND I

LOVE IT WHEN THOSE SHIPS ARE COMING IN AT SUN UP."

YOU SEE, CLARENCE HOPKINS HAS NEVER BEEN

ANYWHERE. WE GOT PEOPLE IN OUR CITIES THAT HAVE

NEVER BEEN ANYWHERE. WHAT WE NEED TO DO IN AMERICA

IS BUILD OUR CITIES SO WONDERFUL AND SO FINE AND SO

BEAUTIFUL AND SO INSPIRATIONAL FOR THOSE WHO LIVE

THERE SO THAT THEY CAN FIND THAT PEACE AND

INSPIRATION AND ENCOURAGEMENT IN THEIR DAILY LIVES.

HE'S NEVER BEEN TO THE HUDSON RIVER AND HE NEVER

SAW THE ROCKY COAST OF MAINE. HE NEVER SAW THE

SUNSET IN THE PACIFIC OR THE PURPLE MOUNTAIN

MAJESTIES OR AMBER WAVES OF GRAIN, BUT IN HIS CITY

HE CAN GET UP IN THE MORNING AND RIDE HIS BICYCLE

AND GO DOWN TO PUBLIC PARK AND SIT DOWN AND DRAPE

HIS LEGS OVER THE GRANITE STONE AND WATCH THE SUN

RISE AND CLOTHE HIMSELF WITH PEACE AND BEAUTY.

AND IF WE SEEK TO BUILD GREAT CITIES AND TOWNS

FOR THE CLARENCE HOPKINS OF OUR COMMUNITIES, WE

WILL BUILD GREAT CITIES FOR EVERYONE.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.