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Activating Noblesville’s north alley

North Alley mural funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts


Alleyways are frequently perceived as dark, dangerous, and unpleasant places where no one wants to go. However, alleys can be whatever you want them to be, including vibrant community assets. The COVID-19 pandemic showed the incredible need to create safe and socially distant outdoor dining and recreation spaces. Alleys, when used strategically, can be places for recreation, eating, and connecting.  

The challenge 

The City of Noblesville sought to transform a traditionally uninviting space into a vibrant community enclave that celebrates the history and beauty of downtown Noblesville.

The project

Back in 2018 the City of Noblesville approved plans and allocated funding to support the effort to add vibrancy and vitality to the North alley downtown, to create a pedestrian-centered place that people can enjoy while also engaging in the historic character downtown offers. For this project, the city also received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to partner with a local artist for a mural that is a key feature of the alley’s beautification. 

Photo of the North Alley conceptual design

The result

North Alley is now a unique community space that includes an archway entrance, colorful sun sail shades, tables and chairs,  gobo theater lights, which project images onto the brick wall, new planter boxes, safety mirrors, and interactive lighting. This space is now a community staple that will be used for outdoor dining, events, and connecting the community.