Friday, September 12, 2014

Canton Arts District

A genuine renaissance is taking place within the central business districts of Rust Belt cities large and small. The Pro Football Hall of Fame city of Canton is no exception.

While probably best known for hosting the NFL's annual Hall of Fame induction festivities and museum, the real story unfolding now in Canton is the success of its downtown Arts District. The special improvement district created to staunch the decline into obscurity of the city center has far exceeded expectations with a program focused on restoring Canton's civic spirit and cultural fabric through support and promotion of local art and artists, visual, performing, and culinary.

A few frequently occurring events showcase what Canton has to offer:

Each Saturday from this week up until October 18, 2014, between 8:00am and 11:30am, the downtown Farmer's Market located at Timken High School features 30 local vendors offering produce, bakery items, coffee, tea, and artisan goods, as well as live music. The Canton Farmer's Market typically begins its run in June.

On the first Friday of each month, year-round, from 6:00pm to 10:00pm, Canton hosts its First Friday downtown art walk. Take a tour of the unique exhibits, shops and galleries the Arts District hosts while enjoying a range of live music, performances and events that change to reflect each month's special artistic theme. Great food, coffee & tea, and beverages, too.


John Morris said...

Thanks for posting this. I know almost nothing about Canton which really gets forgotten.

John Stegall said...

Glad I could shed some light on it. Canton's arts scene surprisingly still remains one of the region's best-kept secrets, but maybe we can start to change that.

John Morris said...

What are the rest of the buildings like? Is there a solid street front or have many been torn down?

Is the street grid still a normal pattern?

Any good Canton blogs or news sources?

John Stegall said...

There are a fair number of parking lots around, as is the case for most cities in the wake of the suburban exodus and industrial collapse. Canton though seems to have been fortunate enough to preserve several blocks that have since been revitalized, particularly 4th St NW, and stretches of Cleveland Ave N and Market Ave N, where you will find many of the galleries and restaurants. There's also the Court Street commons which hosts vendors during the warmer months.

The street grid remains intact within downtown itself and much of the city, and actually incorporates a quadrant system (NE, NW, SE, SW) with numbered streets out to roughly about 50. Suburban sprawl patterns tend to take over at the outer fringes. Within downtown, some key streets are actually still one-way, which can be somewhat confusing at first. Not sure when the city will address these, though they are aggressively adding bike lanes to some of them.

I usually visit the Canton Repository ( which is the city's newspaper, but they give you about 5-10 free views (seems to change every month) before shunting you to a paywall. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be much of a blog scene yet that I've found, at least as far as the arts scene goes. The Stark County Political report ( covers local politics with a flair like none I've ever seen, though.

John Morris said...

I just found this I heart Stark blog run by the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

At various times I have looked for interesting Canton area blogs.

John Stegall said...

Good find. There really isn't much else out there. Maybe as the Arts District grows and expands, a few other blogs/bloggers will join in.