Where art and history collide.
It was 1880 and Asheville was just a little-known place on the French Broad River with about 500 residents. Then came the railroad and by 1900 the town boasted about 10,000 residents and life thrived around the Depot. The Great Depression put a halt to Asheville’s boom growth and the Depot area slowly deteriorated.
In 1985 something began to change down by the river, the River Arts District was born and it has been growing at a steady pace for the last 29 years. Today, the River Arts District of Asheville consists of a vast array of businesses, artists and working studios set in an urban scene of old factories and historic buildings. Everywhere you turn, art abounds, with creativity and innovation happening around every corner. Many studios are open every day, all year round. Visitors are encouraged to come explore artist studios and watch while they work, or meet the artists and discuss the creative process.
The River Arts District is also home to great restaurants and the Wedge Brewery. The White Duck Taco Shop is a local favorite for gourmet tacos. Like many other venues, Clingman Cafe features local artists on the walls all year. The Bull and Beggar opened in 2013 on the dockside of the Wedge Building. The River Arts District is also where New Belgium is building their big brewery.
The River Arts District is a great place to visit any time, but you will not want to miss the Bi-annual Studio Strolls, the full second weekend of every June and November. The whole District comes even more alive, with artists opening their studios & providing hands-on demonstrations, and the Grayline Trolley providing a ride-around service. The Stroll is the first, largest, and most walkable tour of working artists’ studios in the region. Open studios are scattered throughout 23 historic buildings along the French Broad River. There are artist’s demonstrations and hands-on activities throughout the weekend.
The Rivers of Western North Carolina are not only a source where businesses flourish on the river fronts but they are also a place of much enjoyment for people of all ages in our community. If you would like to learn more about the rivers of WNC, watch the short video below.