Detail: Alley Art

Alley Art

I visited Denver a few years ago and thought it was such a cool city. I loved walking through Lodo* (lower downtown) with lights twinkling above me, popping into an underground comedy club (where I saw one of the few comedians I actually thought was funny; I wish I remembered her name!), and sitting outside on restaurant patios sipping cold beverages and nibbling olives.

I signed up for a walking tour that blended history and city planning – it was utterly fascinating and Denver not only created a plan for the city, but actually executed it!  This is a big deal because so many well-intentioned planning documents end up sitting on a shelf in someone’s office, gathering dust.

During the tour, I kept noticing design details/art tucked away in back alleys or subtly peeking out from around a corner. A favorite was a wall in an alley painted in a geometric black and white floral pattern. Another favorite were star-shaped metal accents decorating a plain brick wall. They looked like some sort of urban evening sky.

I’m sure the plan didn’t specify where exact art elements should be added; I think that when cities invest in creating a framework for vibrant places and embrace design, it inspires people to do the same.  It’s like when your neighbor mows their lawn – you suddenly look at your own lawn and want it to look just as good as theirs!

The photo above is a version of Anchorage’s own alley art.  Maybe not my exact aesthetic, but I love that someone was inspired to create this!  Plus, the owl/lion/lady is FIERCE.


*Denver’s downtown is home to the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall, a mile long promenade with restaurants, shops, fountains, small parks, historic buildings, and sky scrapers. It was filled with people night, noon, and even early morning. I wonder if something similar would work in Anchorage, maybe along 5th or 6th?  Do we have the population (residents or visitors) to support a project like this? I have no idea, but it’s fun to think about!  That, and turning part of Ship Creek into a river walk, à la San Antonio (without slides and little boats)? Anyone?  Other random development thoughts?

Author: Gretchen Fauske

I love Anchorage. I love what it is, what it's been, and what I dream it will be. I share my adventures with DJ (my husband), my fabulous family and friends, two frenchies named Grover and Teddy, and now, all of you. If you love Anchorage too, get in touch - guest posts are welcome!