The Congaree River has long been one of Columbia's most recognizable landmarks. However, it was not until the 1990s that people had easy access to its riverbank.
"The locals had been using it for quite some time, so there were little pathways where you would just walk down there, however, general public access wasn't there," Anna Huffman, West Columbia's communications and technology director, said.
The Riverwalk now has countless pathways, benches and other areas for rest and relaxation. There is parking directly in front of the park and just a block away, all of which are free.
"It's just a historic place, but it's live and vibrant," Huffman said. "The beautiful homes that are along the Riverwalk in West Columbia have the greatest views."
The park's amphitheater also hosts many events and concerts throughout the year like the "Rhythm on the River" concert series, which is hosted by the Greater Cayce-West Columbia Chamber of Commerce.
"(The Riverwalk) is an amazing view, very relaxing and peaceful," Huffman said. "It has shade and it's about 10 degrees cooler down there."
Jalen Washington, a passerby who was enjoying the West Columbia Riverwalk Park, said he enjoys the park environment and commonly sees people exercising and walking around the park when he is there.
"I like the nature, sound of water, just being outside," Washington said.
The city of West Columbia worked with the River Alliance to create West Columbia Riverwalk Park and Amphitheater. The River Alliance is a nonprofit organization with the mission to connect people with Columbia's rivers while still protecting them.
Mike Dawson, the organization's chief executive officer, said it is obvious that expanding access to the rivers has been a good public investment.
"When you look at what a public investment is, if people physically use it, then it's a good public investment," Dawson said. "It's really fun to see people interacting with the environment, interacting with each other."
Beyond the Congaree River, the River Alliance has also worked to connect people with the Broad and Saluda Rivers. This has turned into the Three Rivers Greenway, which makes up more than 12 miles of linear paths.
Dawson said the organization began when the Columbia Chamber of Commerce traveled to Nashville and saw how that city had made its river easily accessible.
"They came back here and said, 'Well, you know, we got three rivers, nobody gets down there, so why don't we create an organization that focuses on the rivers?'" Dawson said.
There are now walkways along all three rivers around Columbia, Cayce and West Columbia, and there are still more projects in development.
"We obviously created a product that people like to see," Dawson said. "It ain't easy, but it's coming together."