November 1, 2007
New Guide to Ninth Street District
Arguably Durham’s Most Eclectic, Yet Renowned Dining District
The Ninth Street District sneaks up on you. Unpretentious, but genuine and real, not slick or Stepford-like, but a smorgasbord of renowned and funky. Just what the coveted “creative class” seeks above all.
According to sociologist Richard Florida, who coined the “creative class,” it is this mix of unconfining alternatives that appeal more to the researchers, tech developers, doctors, scientists, inventors and others who make up this bellwether economic cluster.
The Ninth Street District is really two streets, Ninth and Broad, along with side streets running from the School of Science and Math on Club to Main Street and sandwiched between Old West Durham, Duke University’s East Campus and Erwin Square. The area is also bounded by historic upscale neighborhoods like Watts-Hillandale, Trinity Heights and Trinity Park.
While the district is a mainstay in all DCVB literature for visitors and newcomers, the Bureau has created a two sided map to convey how dense and packed the area is with shopping and nationally acclaimed dining. This district, rivaled by the Rockwood District and Downtown’s Brightleaf District, has arguably the highest concentration of nationally or regionally acclaimed restaurants, many of which have been a mainstay in the community for years.
Unfortunately, the Ninth Street District is vulnerable and could face the same problems that undermined Franklin Street in nearby Chapel Hill. Threats like (1) insufficient parking, (2) chain stores that yearn for the authenticity, but can easily erode it by their presence, and (3) lack of pedestrian friendly lighting, sufficient sidewalks to spur areas, and wayfinding signs.
The Ninth Street District may not be what some people term world class or what Dr. Florida terms “generica,” but it is a cluster of authentic, indigenous and organic venues – just what the creative class, for which Durham’s workforce is known, desires.
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