Asheville Urban Trail goes digital with new website launch Aug. 16

Photo by Max Hunt
Photo by Max Hunt

From event organizers:

The Asheville Urban Trail Blazes New Paths for Exploring Asheville

ASHEVILLE, NC (August 2, 2017) – The Asheville Urban Trail, a 1.7 mile stroll through Asheville’s fascinating history, was created in 1990 by local artists and citizens who wanted to encourage exploration of the city’s downtown.

Now, the trail, which includes 30 official stations, is joining the Digital Age with an interactive website that allows you to experience the Urban Trail using your smart phone.

In addition, educational materials, study guides and teacher guides have been updated and re-designed for use on field work and in the classroom. The Asheville Urban Trail is an informative, artistic, colorful and healthy way to learn about some untold stories about our city while enjoying the mountain air.

The trail is a tremendous asset for the city,” says Adrian Vassallo, chair of the Asheville Downtown Association Foundation, which spearheaded the project. “Now using technology, the trail is easier to navigate and offers a much more vibrant experience. Visitors are able to access history at each stop and exploring the trails is much more rewarding.”

The Asheville City Economic Development office also re-designed and updated the printed Urban Trail map, which is available at the Asheville Convention Visitors Bureau, the Asheville Downtown Association, Diamond Brand (in the Aloft Hotel), The Thomas Wolfe Memorial, Grayline Trolleys and La Zoom Bus Tours.  

The trail is divided into five historic periods using symbols embedded into the sidewalk – a feather for the Gilded Age (1880-1930), a horseshoe for the Frontier Period (1784-1880), the city building for the Era of Civic Pride, an angel for the impact of Thomas Wolfe on downtown, and the eagle, representing the age of cultural diversity.

The average walking time for the trail’s 30 stops is two hours. Each station displays a piece of interpretive artwork and a bronze plaque with explanation and history. The trail may also be divided into shorter walks with multiple visits and experiences if the distance is taxing.

The Asheville Urban Trail stations pay tribute to elements of Asheville’s colorful history. For example, the “Times of Thomas Wolfe” station features “Dixieland,” the boardinghouse where the famous author grew up. The large iron beside the Flat Iron Building is a replica of one used by a local laundry and marks the original gateway to the Battery Park Hotel. The center of Pack Square, with its playful hogs and turkeys cast in iron, was once a crossroads for drovers bringing their livestock into town to sell and trade. Images etched in bronze represent memories of African Americans who grew up on “The Block” during its historic, thriving heyday.

Other stops along the Urban Trail are wonderful surprises and unearth new stories about the city. The child on stilts, whose home is on North Broadway, is actually a representation of architect Richard Sharp Smith as a young boy. Smith was the supervising architect for Biltmore House and designed many of Asheville’s charming arts and crafts residences as well as architectural landmarks such as the Masonic Temple.

The City is excited about the revitalization of the Asheville Urban Trail,” says Brenda Mills, economic development specialist for the city of Asheville. “We have lots of visitors in the downtown district who are interested in our history and this gives them a fun and creative way to learn. We’re also excited about the expanded outreach to schools across the region. The kids see it as an adventurous scavenger hunt.”

The Asheville Urban Trail re-launch initiative was led by the Asheville Downtown Association Foundation. Additional support was provided by the City of Asheville, Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority and the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A special launch event on August 16 at 6 p.m. at The Collider will include an unveiling of the new website as well as the Asheville Urban Trail’s new visual identity and logo. Newly designed and edited educational materials and resources for the classroom and enriching field trips will also be available.

Catawba Brewing is releasing a special Urban Trail Pale Ale with some of the proceeds from sales going towards funding school field trips. The beer will be featured at the August 16 event.  

For more information about the Asheville Urban Trail, visit www.ashevilleurbantrail.com

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About Max Hunt
Max Hunt grew up in South (New) Jersey and graduated from Warren Wilson College in 2011. History nerd; art geek; connoisseur of swimming holes, hot peppers, and plaid clothing. Follow me @J_MaxHunt

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