Next month marks the anniversary of closing on my historic 100-year-old home (a Queen Anne with craftsman details) immediately east of downtown Durham.  In and of itself, the act is not particularly remarkable or unique to me.  However, I thought this post might be of interest to those who also find themselves fired up by “walkable urbanism” and living in close proximity to “third places” – a.k.a. thriving cultural and entertainment districts.

For anyone who has been paying attention, downtown Durham has certainly become a “third place”.  All one need do is make their way to the intersection of Geer and Rigsbee Streets to be immersed in the Bull City’s emerging music scene.   Here you’ll find Durham’s own Fullsteam Brewery, crafters of distinctly Southern beer.   Not only can you pick up a growler of FSB’s R&D beer, the place is an excellent venue for local and regional music.  At the curb, depending on the night, you’ll find one or more food trucks serving up delicious and innovative fare adding to the urban vibe that in these parts is uniquely Durham (Shout out to Pie Pushers!).  Provided music is your thing, then hop on across the street to Motorco for more.  If you’re out of bed by noon on a Sunday, I invite you to check out Bloody Brunch at Motorco, where Bloody Mary’s and music by their monthly artist in residency rule the day – a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

It goes without saying that Durham’s food scene gets its props.  We continue to receive accolades from across the country, especially many of our downtown and surrounding restaurants.  A personal favorite is Watts Grocery over on Broad Street.  Whether you are seeking something upscale like Revolution, where when inside, you’re immediately transported to some major metropolis like Chicago or New York; or say you wish to rekindle that trip to Paris – I say, have brunch at Rue Cler; or if people watching is your thing order the Oprah Mocha at Beyu Caffe, and wait for the who’s who of Durham to pass through.  You’ll also want to keep your eyes open for what is to come, like Respite Café, opening by the end of the year just below Ogilvy, not to mention many more new concepts in the pipeline.  One thing’s clear – Durham’s food scene is a driving force in the making of downtown as a “third place”.  

For those craving “walkable urbanism” – you’ll find just that happening in and around downtown.  This by no means is the only “third place” in Durham – just one of several.  However, the analogy that helps me is to envision a wheel – you need a strong hub to maximize stability, and downtown is our hub.  So, if you see the importance of “third places” in their contribution to the community, I invite you to visit your nearest “third place” right away.  After all, to be a thriving cultural and entertainment district – people are mandatory. 

-Adrian Brown
Chamber Connection Broker, Durham Enthusiast, Downtown Resident