Art and Real Estate

It dawned on me… Yes, I know what caused yesterday’s post to percolate up into my brain. It was my brief visit to Providence, RI.

3 decades ago, in the 70’s, before it got “gussied up,” (sort of) I lived there. Living there was one of the reasons I fell in love with Newburyport, MA when I saw it for the first time 25+ years ago. In part, it reminded me of Providence, RI.

As of 1992 Providence has 7 local historic district overlay zones. Wow.

And it shows, big time.

Downtown Providence (Downtown Historic District) reminds me a little of my hometown, NYC, when Soho was getting it’s “comeuppance” or rather “up and coming.” One street would be swanky, the next street over would resemble the “Bowery,” in the old days, when it was “sketchy” (not like it is now).

I went on a hunt in downtown Providence, determined to do my own version of eating on $40 a day or less.

And I came across a place that was packed with folks. It was on the verge of the “sketchy” part of town. It turned out to have a restaurant and a bar, and the best fish tacos I ever ate for $3.35 or something. I ate a whole lot of fish tacos and also managed to sort of get the recipe.

When I started to pay attention to the place, after about my 3rd visit and a lot of fish tacos, I realized that I was hanging around, with a bunch of young artists in their 20’s and 30’s. (I guess that’s why I felt so “at home.”)

The place not only had a fun/funky restaurant and bar, but it also had an art gallery on one side, a small “black box” real live theater on the other side, and a place for great live bands on the inside.

And it turns out that there were a lot of “young’ns” from Newburyport, folks I knew and recognized.

Pretty cool.

And an awesome idea. But won’t happen in a place that’s too gentrified (that’s us now, Newburyport, MA)… It’s gotta be a place that’s kind a “sketchy,” with low cost real estate, to pull something like that off.

Made me miss Taffy’s and Cathy Ann’s. Glad we still have Angie’s. Glad to still have the “black box” theater at the Tannery.

Made me think that folks involved in the “arts” could be good for something.

And you know, since that place is so hopping, it won’t last long. Real estate brokers will move in, and all those good art folks will move on like nomads finding the next hot real estate market.

So the Republicans could be grateful for those liberal, art kids.

I sure am. And I’m dying for more of those fish tacos.

Mary Eaton