Becoming Durham: Grit, Belief, and A City Transformed

“Dangerous.” “Dirty.” “Empty.” “Run down.” Plenty of people wrote downtown Durham, North Carolina, off as a lost cause by the late 1970s. Big Tobacco and the other industries that pumped life into the town shuttered, a highway paved over one of its most historically vibrant communities, derelict buildings lined the streets, and countless efforts to repair and uplift the city failed. Durham’s downtown seemed hopeless and dead to outsiders, as well as many of the people who called the city home. But Durham was never without hope, and its life pulsed beneath the surface, ready for a revolution. This is the story of that revolution.

In Becoming Durham, Eleanor Spicer Rice and Robin Sutton Anders interviewed nearly 150 Durham believers and changemakers, including a cigarette roller at Liggett & Myers, baseball team owners, metal workers, building resurrectors, a shoe shiner, place makers, restauranteurs, a saxophone player, a university president, an old auto shop owner, beer crafters, bull lovers, a recluse, mayors, bakers, singers, painters, real estate moguls, and people who enjoy the feel of late Durham afternoons when the sun dips low. Here are their stories, and the story of downtown Durham’s rebirth. Together, these Durhamites show how belief in the possible, the ability to work together, and love for a town can transform a whole city.

Praise for Becoming Durham

Becoming Durham is the fascinating inside story of a city’s revitalization. A great read, and highly recommended!
Stuart Albright, Author of Bull City