Charleston City Paper's 15th Anniversary 

Independent, local, and free since 1997

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Five years ago, when the City Paper celebrated its tenth birthday, we were prepared. We spent nearly six months thinking about how we would mark the day. We immersed ourselves in the archives, invited old writers to write again, told our origin story, took pictures of people in their birthday suits, and generally had a good time celebrating our accomplishments and patting ourselves on the back. Five years later, our 15th birthday snuck up on us. It's been a challenging few years, not just for the newspaper industry but for most everybody. The tough economy's demanded more from us than ever, the internet has increased our reach but also our workload, and the future arrived before we expected it to. But that's OK. We can't think of anything better than being in the media during these crazy, maddening, whirlwind times. Where else to observe the changes that have been wrought in Charleston over the last 15 years?

Instead of turning inward and picking lint out of our own bellybuttons for our birthday, we decided to turn outward and take a look at what's happened in our fair city, and that means revisiting some of the people who have been instrumental in making this town what it is today: a national media darling that has its champions (Joe Riley) and its monsters (John Graham Altman III). The list of people we've chosen to include is very subjective and has more to do with what I, the founding editor and the longest long-timer, could conjure up in an afternoon brainstorm session (we didn't start thinking about this issue until the beginning of August, which is why our 15th birthday is being celebrated a few weeks late). Despite its origin, it's an interesting list. We found 15 hall of famers, the usual suspects like Dana Beach and Keith Summey, who were already here in 1997 when we arrived, making an impact and making a difference. These folks were chosen because they were around then, and they're still around today. They deserve a little pat on the back for their accomplishments. We also picked people we have dubbed the "15 minutes of fame" group. These are the ones who were here and made some noise but then went away for whatever reason. In the case of Arthur Ravenel, it was retirement. At Ravenel's age, you just can't expect him to still be rattling his saber. We also came up with a "Freshman 15" group, the new faces that came into the mix over the last 15 years and who we expect to continue to make an impact in the future. Who knows? They might be our hall of famers in another 15 years. So, happy birthday to us. Raise a toast in our honor and read on. Maybe these folks will inspire you to get out there and make a difference too. —Stephanie Barna


The Freshman 15 (view as list)

15 Minutes of Fame (view as list)

Featured 15

Charlton Singleton escapes the ska scene to emerge as one of Charleston's jazz greats
Charlton Singleton escapes the ska scene to emerge as one of Charleston's jazz greats

In one of Charlton Singleton's first City Paper appearances, he was decked out a yellow vinyl suit. Back in the day, the noted Charleston jazz man was a backing vocalist and cornet player for SKWZBXX, a now-defunct ska band. — Paul Bowers


Charleston isn't a sprawling mess thanks to Dana Beach and the Coastal Conservation League
Charleston isn't a sprawling mess thanks to Dana Beach and the Coastal Conservation League

It's funny to think that there was a time when the City Paper needed to let our readers know what the term "urban sprawl" meant, but that's what we had to do the first time we wrote about the Coastal Conservation League way back in 1997. — Susan Cohen


From the creation of Piccolo to MOJA, Ellen Dressler Moryl has been a driving force on the Charleston art scene
From the creation of Piccolo to MOJA, Ellen Dressler Moryl has been a driving force on the Charleston art scene

Ellen Dressler Moryl is bustling around her Meeting Street office preparing for a City Paper photo shoot. The idea is to replicate a 20-year-old photo of Moryl with her cello, which shouldn't be too difficult. — Erica Jackson Curran


Back in the day, A.C.'s really was 'Up All Night'
Back in the day, A.C.'s really was 'Up All Night'

The typical 21-year-old college student who makes A.C.'s his or her home on Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning knows next to nothing about the way things used to be at the Upper King Street dive. — Susan Cohen


Sorry, <i>City Paper</i>. Joe Riley's just not that into you
Sorry, City Paper. Joe Riley's just not that into you

After almost 20 years in office and with tantalizing prospects on his career horizons, Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr.'s life reached an intersection in 1994. — Dan Conover


Thanks to Keith Summey, North Charleston gets some respect
Thanks to Keith Summey, North Charleston gets some respect

In 1994, few people were proud to say that they lived in North Charleston, a fact that Keith Summey found out while campaigning door-to-door in his first mayoral election. — Paul Bowers


The guys at Kickin' Chicken create a franchise that's worth clucking about
The guys at Kickin' Chicken create a franchise that's worth clucking about

Owners Bobby Perry and Chip Roberts (who were eventually joined by David Miller) modeled their Morrison Drive restaurant after a wing place in Columbia, knowing that Charleston had a gap in the food delivery niche at the time. — Susan Cohen


Hootie guitarist Mark Bryan falls in love
Hootie guitarist Mark Bryan falls in love

Mark Bryan doesn't miss Columbia. As any good South Carolinian knows, Bryan's band, Hootie and Blowfish, met on the campus on the University of South Carolina. — Paul Bowers


Disco Demolition mastermind Mike Veeck has a RiverDog-gone good time
Disco Demolition mastermind Mike Veeck has a RiverDog-gone good time

In July of 1979, Mike Veeck may or may not have killed disco. Long before he came to Charleston as president of the minor-league RiverDogs baseball team, he helped behind the scenes at Chicago's Comiskey Park — Paul Bowers


Queen Quet steps away from the keyboard to become Gullah/Geechee head of state
Queen Quet steps away from the keyboard to become Gullah/Geechee head of state

Marquetta Goodwine didn't set out to become a queen. She wanted to work with computers. — Paul Bowers


Ray Huff of the Clemson Architecture Center is helping transform Charleston
Ray Huff of the Clemson Architecture Center is helping transform Charleston

In a way, it's a shame that the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston will be leaving behind its Franklin Street space for a brand-new structure on Meeting Street in a few years. — Susan Cohen


Robert Carter is a classic kind of chef
Robert Carter is a classic kind of chef

Robert Carter is a meat and potatoes guy. He loves iceberg lettuce and a well-seasoned, expertly cooked steak. He loves tall chef hats and starched coats and classic fine dining experiences. — Stephanie Barna


Crisis Ministries is more than just a homeless shelter
Crisis Ministries is more than just a homeless shelter

Crisis Ministries doesn't look like much. Driving into downtown Charleston on Meeting Street, most commuters only see the squat brick building that houses the men's shelter and soup kitchen — Paul Bowers


The Have Nots! are still crazy after all these years
The Have Nots! are still crazy after all these years

It's an old and familiar story: boy meets girl. Boy and girl love being together. They make each other laugh. Then they meet another boy and form an improv group — Elizabeth Pandolfi


In hindsight, maybe Wendell Gilliard was more than the 'bikini guy'
In hindsight, maybe Wendell Gilliard was more than the 'bikini guy'

In the summer of 1997, S.C. Rep. Wendell Gilliard was a scrappy local union president making his first run at public office. Fifteen years later, the 58-year-old cuts a commanding yet relaxed figure at Saffron's on East Bay — Dan Conover


Blotter: The Best of the Best
Blotter: The Best of the Best (Or is it the Worst of the Worst?)

For 15 years, the City Paper has brought you the stories of Charlestonians in their finest hours — puking, thieving, driving drunk, and smoking crack — right here in the Blotter. Don't lie; you always turn to this page first. For this special anniversary issue, we sifted through our archives and painstakingly compiled these, the 15 absolute best (or worst) moments in the history of the Blotter. — Paul Bowers



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