Dorothea Dix Park


There is a “Dix Cafe” that is in the midst of their soft opening. I have no idea where it is within the park but they have signs for it coming in from Hunt Dr.


I’ve seen a “cafe” thru the windows of one of the building in the middle of the property. Looks like a school lunch room from the 70’s.


re: @Mark - Okay, point taken; next time I have a layover at Cincinnati, I’ll take more time to see what’s there.

I think my point to answer @Francisco’s question still stands. You can have all these great places that actually have their own amazing qualities… but if you want to draw attention to the city from more than just us locals, that’s not enough. You need more than just that, and a landmark in Dix Park is a good way to do it.

@dave: There is a “Dix Cafe” that is in the midst of their soft opening.

Is there more information about this, somewhere?


I agree that Raleigh lacks anything particularly distinctive. The history, the people, the topography…it’s all so run of the mill (as a NC native and 31 year Raleigh resident I am allowed to say these things with impunity /s). Perhaps run of the mill is what makes it an attractive place to live for the masses but it does make it hard to define on a highlight reel. Over on UP, folks have emphasized modern accomplishments to market with, particular tech stuff. The CREE shimmer wall was a great thing that grabbed that tech image and put it out there in a fantastic Raleigh-esque way. Giant LED lit up Oak Trees might be a similarly cool way to drive that home again. Perhaps the NCMA should be enlisted too, and help carve out another art park.


Its a tax haven, that’s what makes Raleigh attractive.

It’s always the places you least expect that have the best/most authentic local cultures. In North Carolina, it’s not the big cities where you find the culture and its not something that can be planned by developers. Raleigh has to organically find its own culture, otherwise it will be stupid and contrived. Seems this town is obsessed with imitating other cities it fancies itself to become (Austin, Portland, Silicon Valley).



I generally don’t want to post anything negative on here. But I have come to the conclusion that growing as a tech hub and organically finding/growing culture and arts are somewhat mutually exclusive. People flocking here for IT/coding/engineering jobs are typically not super colorful, creative people. I’ve been amazed at some of the comments I’ve heard at Dix park workgroup meetings of people saying that we don’t need [insert park feature that supports arts/music/personal expression] because it doesn’t make financial sense. Like @elderlywoman said, you can’t plan cultural experiences and places. They happen as an exchange of value, i.e. “I value handcrafted goods because they are more meaningful objects to me, so I purchase x,y, and z from local artisans”. And thus we get more potters, weavers, furniture makers, musicians, etc. because we become a better market for those goods and services. An arts district can’t survive without a strong local arts economy. Hopefully I don’t offend too many people by saying that I don’t believe a tech hub is a great way to gain those types of cultural experiences and exchanges. But of course we all have different definitions of “culture”.


I mean, the thing is Raleigh was basically just a big town a few decades ago. Cities with strong or distinct cultures tend to have been important cities for a long time while that was developing. It’s still just one big suburb inside the city limits with a handful of urban pockets, but that will definitely change as it grows. I’d be shocked in 50 years (when I’m almost 80) if Raleigh doesn’t have a very distinct identity.


Please. More developer driven development hasn’t stopped Raleigh from having artisan bakers, chocolatiers, a budding music scene, a foodie scene. Things places like Charlotte, which has over 5 culinary schools can’t even get started. What is this ‘culture’ you think run-down rural North Carolina has? Because I lived it and there’s no culture only strip malls and the KKK.

Don’t mistake nostalgia for culture.


Raleigh has it, just not as much as one would expect for a city of 450k and a metro of 2.1 million. Most of that has to do with the city not being much of anything until the 80s. If families have kids here, those kids stay, their kids stay, etc. it will grow over time. Also, you have to figure a lot of the people moving to the Triangle who put an emphasis on living in a place with a big local identity would go to Durham…talk about a city with an identity. Bull This, Bull That, Durham has more identity than a lot of cities twice its size…like Raleigh. I’m sure it will even out.

That said, DTR is heavy on local restaurants/stores and light on regional/national chains. It’ll be tough, but I’d like to keep it that way if possible. That helps a town develop an identity a lot.

Sort of reminds me of that quote about Oakland. “There’s no ‘there’ there.”


Might I add Asheville and other mountain towns, and coastal communities for that matter, possess a ton of what many describe as “culture” without being large, important cities. They certainly have more artisans per capita and have had for a long time. I think one of the distinctions to be made is that career/industry focused places aren’t great places to develop self made inventive artisans, because why be a starving artist when there’s so many great jobs around?!?!


Well, it’s important to keep in mind that Asheville is a tourist town. I used to work there and had a lot of good times, but without the big tourist sector coming to visit, those funky little shops downtown would disappear. When we left there was a huge issue going on about the number of “luxury” hotels going up. They weren’t building enough housing downtown because hotels were where the money was.

It’s also important to remember that topography helps facilitate identity. To use Cincinnati as an example, the Ohio River is integral to its identity as a place, same with mountain towns or coastal communities. Raleigh (and Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, etc.) are all plopped right in the middle of some pretty boring topography. That puts us at a disadvantage but we can overcome it with investments in things like art and culture.


Minneapolis is really awesome, although I strongly recommend seeing it in the summer months.

I’ve only spent a short amount of time in Cincinnati, and that was 14 years ago, but it seems really nice, and I really want to get back there soon and check it out some more.

I think that these are both examples of cities that Raleigh could look to for ideas and influences.

But I’ll just have to respectfully agree to disagree about Rachacha. :slight_smile:


That is my biggest gripe about Raleigh (and Richmond, VA too). I grew up in the foothills and miss seeing the mountains all the time. I have tried to leave Raleigh several times, but my field keeps me here and makes it difficult to leave the area. But I would move back to the hills and hollers in a minute if I could make it work professionally without shooting myself in the foot.


Well the real culture that I’m referring to is the food, music, language, and way of life that has historically defined the North Carolina identity and experience - it absolutely comes from the country side and not the cities. And yes, the KKK is part of that experience. Fine if you reject it or are too shallow to recognize it but it exists. I’m from New York so there is no nostalgia for me with respect to the local culture but I married into a High Tider family from Down East/Harkers Island and those people have one of the most unique local cultures in the country. Sadly, its been eroded by vacationers and “ding batter” sport fisherman but it still exists and should be preserved.

I don’t consider hipster tech bro culture to be authentic. Its contrived and cookie cutter. That is what Raleigh is working towards. There is absolutely no will to preserve any existing local identity. For better or worse, Raleigh is changing. Fast.

I’m from Buffalo New York and for all intents and purposes is not a desirable location for job seekers - stagnant economy, terrible weather, crumbling infrastructure…yada yada yada. However, Its the people and traditions that make it a great place. It too, has one of the most unique and identifiable local cultures. The food, the architecture, the way people talk and interact, the traditions and celebrations, the music, the lake, the river, the border; all make it what it is.


Tourist towns definitely support the arts and crafts, but it’s a bit of chicken/egg problem. Was the town a tourist town before it was an arts hub or was it an arts hub which is why it’s growing in tourism? I know the mountains draw tourists, but that’s not the sole reason there’s more artisans per capita in that part of the state.

I think it still stands to say that a very industrious, career/family focused area does not lend itself to the arts much. I’ve said this before on the blog; NC State is a great school for STEM degrees. Not so much for liberal studies, music, etc. I moved here from Wilmington, and you are definitely more likely to catch a live musician
performing in a restaurant there than here, even during the off season in a non-tourist restaurant. It’s just the way of life down there and it’s different than here.


I’ve given up on the local music scene. Its essentially non-existent. Not bad for touring bands but I have yet to stumble into any bar to find a decent act or any act for that matter. Although, news of the underground opening back up is a step in the right direction.


Could you explain how you’re using the word “artisan”? An artisan to me is someone who uses traditional(ish) methods to make consumer goods.

It was definitely a tourist town before an arts town. Biltmore is only the biggest example of 19th century vacation homes that were built there as summer retreats.

Fair point. I would argue that those musicians probably live there full time but they make most of their money in tourist season.

I also can’t necessarily agree with your basic point. Are not Chicago, Austin, New York, Philly, LA, Nashville, etc all very industrious, career/family oriented and arts hubs? (Manhattan may not be family-oriented but the outer boroughs and surrounding counties certainly are) Now, you might have a point when it comes to per capita numbers, but do you know any towns with high per capita arts facilities that aren’t tourist-oriented (I think Minneapolis might be one?) I can’t imagine they’re very common.


Buffalo NY or basically all of Western and Central NY - arts and music galore.


Also, I just had to add this detail about Asheville. The baseball team has been called the Tourists since 1915.


Ok so Asheville has always been a vacation area, but there’s also Boone, wilkesboro, the craft school near spruce pine, etc. And these areas are known for bluegrass/backwoods/mountain culture which permeates from music through dance, pottery, jewelry, food, clothing (artisan: a student of a craft, especially making something by hand). Whatever, the point is that tourism is not a prerequisite for these tangible forms of culture. Athens, GA is a college town in the middle of Georgia but it is one of the best live music hubs on the east coast.

My main concern is music, and I do not agree that we have a good scene here as some people like to think. Per population, it’s actually pretty bad, as @elderlywoman pointed out.

Hollywood and New York are the entertainment capitols of the US, and I don’t really understand how anyone can compare a top 10 US city to Raleigh. I believe that what this area is known for, low crime, great jobs, low cost of living (relatively), a mild climate (lol), and entrepreneurship/innovation which requires a lot of hard work, does not lend itself to a developing arts sector. In fact I’ve heard numerous examples from my cohorts of Raleigh exporting artists/musicians to Durham, and certainly to places like Asheville and Denver. My last original band ended when two members moved to Denver. This area is just a little too “safe family 9-5 fun” to appeal to those striving for a life in art/music.

Anyways, come support my original band Maj Deeka. We’re playing The Pourhouse 10/12 as an Umphrey’s McGee after party.