In select communities across our nation, there are a handful of cities that designated and developed districts with the goal of encouraging artistic expression. They all have one thing in common: unprecedented success! The success of these areas is a huge boost to the local economy and it brings an overall increase in economic success to the city at large. More importantly it fosters new opportunities for residents to engage the creative and their art.
In 2015, Ogden City received a grant called “Our Town” from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to use creative place making and engagement with the arts to revitalize the area between Downtown Ogden and adjacent East Central residential neighborhood. This area was envisioned as a Creative District intended to achieve the following goals:
Encourage artists and other creatives to work and live in the district.
Create new opportunities for the community to engage with art, particularly in the public realm.
Develop a vibrant connection between Downtown and East Central, contributing to the revitalization of East Central.
Our creative district is called the Nine Rails Creative District (9RCD).The Goal of the Creative District is to be an epicenter for art and culture that provides opportunities for the creative community to live, connect, share and teach their diverse skills for the benefit of Ogden’s artists, citizens and visitors.
The 9RCD includes from east to west, Madison Ave. to Grant Ave. and from north to south 24th street to 26th street. Within this area there is a focus on creating live-work space studios where artists can connect with their peers, be inspired and create. This district will also include public walkways linking art installations, incorporating unique lighting options and providing space for visitors to interact with art in all its forms. Nine Rails Creative District is named as a tribute to Ogden’s roots as a railroad town that once was a hub for 9 different rail lines, and as a symbolic gesture to the Nine Muses of Greek Mythology, which represent diverse forms of artistic expression.
With many of the projects completed or underway, here are some of the things to look for or look forward to: public spaces and projects like art crosswalks, gateway art installation, and food truck hub. There is an upcoming Neon Plaza which will be along Kiesel Avenue which will call back to the historic movie theater heritage. There will also be a reconstruction of the Butler Way stairs which will also include artistic elements. The stairway will provide passage from residential areas to the creative district as well as be visually significant.
There will also be projects to improve Streetscapes. This will include signage which guides pedestrian traffic and brands the district and the city. Improvements will include furnishings and lighting to make the area pedestrian and socially friendly. Along these pathways will be light art installations, green areas and all of it will be ADA accessible.
The best part of this Creative District is the buy in that has already happened by local business like Cuppa, Thai Curry Kitchen, The Argo House and The Monarch among others. Significant investment and redevelopment has already occurred and continues with the revitalization and transformation of 9RCD. The past decade of transformation of 25th Street from a once blighted corridor is now moving across Washington Blvd to the East and it is wonderful to see. This section of the magazine will focus on our creative district, or more specifically the people and projects that are at the core of this transformation. You will recognize this article by the page footer identifying and highlighting some of Ogden’s most iconic buildings and landmarks that are located within the 9RCD.