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The ABC's of Art Districts

ART DISTRICTS are, by their nature, an interesting phenomenon.  They often begin in dilapidated industrial neighborhoods near large city centers buzzing with culture. Artists and other bohemians seek these areas because they offer affordable rents close to the city.  Of course, until the artists move there, most people would choose to live elsewhere. 

Once enough artists move in a given area, streets that were previously desolate and unsafe at night become populated with interesting residents.  Quite naturally, somebody decides to open a small café, bar or bistro for these artists.  New trends often arise from people leading this way of life.

What happens next is that the word gets out that a neighborhood that was previously “squalid” and “miserable” has become “up and coming” and “affordable.”  Given a relatively good economic climate, a real estate development cycle, sparked by the creative community runs its course and an edgy gang of art pundits, fashionistas, real estate cohorts and trendy establishments all charge in.  The area metamorphoses into a vibrant neighborhood. 

Prominent art districts often mature into high priced areas too expensive for the artists and other bohemians who inspired their development in the first place.  Unless special interventions are made by the city and state to preserve the arts in these districts, the neighborhood will eventually be stripped of the very culture that made it desirable.