Title image: Durham NC: Partial sykline from the south. Any image of downtown Durham has to include railroad tracks. The glass-and-steel building on the left is One City Center.
In the center of the title image you’ll see Durham’s current slogan painted on the red brick building in the middle: Find Your Cool. It replaced the former, very staid slogan City of Medicine.
By the way, the unofficial slogan is Keep Durham Dirty. With all the swank development going on now, there are some who are worried that Durham will somehow – and sadly – get clean.
I doubt it. Dirty is in Durham’s DNA.
Durham NC: The Old
Historically Durham NC is a tobacco and mill town. If you like old red brick, you’ll love Durham.
More red brick:
And even more:
The visual stamp of the city’s industrial past is not going away:
Most characteristic of the city are the tobacco warehouses all over town that have been converted into shops, restaurants and businesses.
Durham NC: The New
After decades of derelict neglect, Durham’s downtown got a shot in the arm when the American Tobacco Campus was developed. This project got started in the early years of the 2000s by Michael Goodmon who runs Capitol Broadcasting Company’s real estate arm.
Durham architect John Warasila has been in on the fun. He saw Durham in the mid-1990s the way Baltimore was in the 1980s: the buildings and sidewalks were there, but the people weren’t.
Now the people are.
One good reason is the DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center), which opened in 2008. It was designed by Phil Szostak and is across the street from American Tobacco:
Two days ago I was walking around Durham on my photo shoot. It was Earth Day, so there was a festival at Central Park:
Here’s what’s left of the original Liberty Warehouse, around back:
Mostly what you see around downtown are intersections like this:
The center of it all is the 28-story One City Center, still under construction. I’m now realizing this building is the 21st-century version of the 19th-century Lucky Strike smokestack, visible all over town:
I bought a condo on the 21st floor. I think it’ll be ready around October.
One City Center is built on the site of an old Woolworth’s that burned down decades ago. For a very long time this plot of land, in the very center of downtown Durham, was filled only with grass.
I know I’ll like living downtown. From 2003-2005 I loved living at 339 West Main, which is two blocks down the street from One City Center:
As you can see the downstairs is a housewares shop called Bungalou. When I lived there with my husband, we used the downstairs for our offices. Upstairs was the apartment with the living room and kitchen. The second-story windows are to the bedroom.
Historical note: 339 West Main was originally the Durham Pawn Shop.
Mostly what you see around downtown are apartments, apartments, apartments under construction:
Durham NC: The Bull City Now and Forever
Durham is called the Bull City because of an aggressive marketing campaign by a tobacco company.
The baseball term ‘bull pen’ to refer to the area where relief pitchers warm up is due to the ads of Bull Durham Tobacco hanging over the area in Yankee Stadium way back when.
Still today, the Bull is the symbol of Durham. At the Durham Bulls baseball park if a Durham Bull hits the ball strongly enough to hit the bull, steam comes out of the bull’s nose, and the hitter gets a home run.
I’ll leave you with this:
See Also: Durham, A Foodie Town
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen