Monday, November 30, 2009

5 Images Document the American Tobacco Historic District from 1891 to 2009

What we now call the American Tobacco Historic District is Downtown’s front yard in some respects. It is also one area where aerials are unobstructed and images drawn or taken over a span of more than a hundred years show a remarkable transformation.

First a bird’s eye view rendering in 1891 showing the Old Bull Building and the beginning of the District’s tobacco heritage.

Then a shot in the 1950’s with the Lucky Strike factory in full production and the area where the DBAP and DPAC are now was populated with single home residential.

An image from the late 1980’s/early 1990’s after the Lucky Strike Factory had closed and American Tobacco had moved out of Durham.

An image of the District after an attempt by the owner to move the Durham Bull’s to Raleigh was blocked, resulting in construction of the new Durham Bull’s Athletic Park where the huge parking lot was in the image above. The owner had added an office building in right field, but the factory was still dormant and the area to the north used to park and maintain transit buses.

Seventy percent of attendance at the new DBAP is visitor generated and the visitors begin to make the area viable.

An image of the American Tobacco Historic District today with the factory transformed to offices and restaurants, the transit facilities relocated and the DBAP joined by the Durham Performing Arts Center. The result of $100 million or so in public funds and thanks to tax credits and Duke University, with even more leveraged in private investment.

And this is just Downtown's front yard.

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