Broad Street’s Changing Character Reflected On

RICHMOND, Va. – Last Friday the final section of West Broad Street before it turns into East Broad was filled with hundreds of people looking at art and meeting with friends. This happens every first Friday of the month as the art galleries of Richmond switch out their old art exhibitions with new ones. For years Richmond has attracted crowds to it’s normally abandoned mid-section by offering a feast of art and music for visitors to enjoy. It offers a great cultural and monetary boost to a part of the city that doesn’t get much attention. This new area of Richmond is adopting the moniker “Richmond’s Art District.” How will this coming renaissance influence the growth of Richmond?
First Friday’s is just one example of Richmonders causing an expansion of the area through the injection of new money and adding to the attraction to move back into the city. The end of West Broad in situated in the middle of the City of Richmond. To the west of The Art District is the Virginia Commonwealth University campus and to the east is Richmond’s downtown proper. The area has been changing for the last decade as the older residents move out of the area move out and newer residents move in. Some caution that Richmond might be experiencing gentrification, others say it’s just a transition as Richmond becomes a trendy younger community.
Many locals applauded VCU expanding onto West Broad Street as a way to “clean up” the area. During the 1980’s the area that is occupied by The Siegel Center and The Fine Arts Building were derelict areas and was seen as not a place to visit.
“There’s much more to do now there then there was when I was growing up” Said life long Richmond native Jonathan Goulding, 22, “downtown was not safe back then.” Most people lived in the suburbs of Richmond during the 80’s and 90’s and didn’t see a reason to enter the city. Kristin Dahland, 20, AFO sophomore said, “When I thought of downtown I only thought of VCU, I never needed to come over here until I started college.”
Richmond’s universities and changes to it’s downtown are bringing new attention to the area and attracting people to move to Richmond. “I moved here from Abingdon, Va., which is far away in the western part of the state,” said Cory Bowles, 20, Creative Advertising Sophomore. “Richmond has so much life and culture, but I think it has a long way to go still, that area is still deserted the rest of the month.” West Broad has attracted a lot of attention as some consider moving into “The Art District” and it’s surrounding area.
“I would of never of thought of living here 10 years ago, but now it’s really changed and it’s all about culture and art and it’s all happening right now.” Said Lindsey Pritchard, 19, Illustration Sophomore. “ Richmond is perfect for young artists like me.”

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