Granite City Art & Design District

A fresh take on community, culture, and the resurrection of a downtown.

A Metamorphosis

Nestled in the industrial district of Granite City, a metamorphosis is taking place. Where once there was only decay, dedicated Granite residents and visitors have been hard at work breathing new life into a once deserted space.

The Granite City Art & Design District, a non-profit comprised of artists and volunteers, is re-imagining the city center as a community hub. Art studios and public galleries have moved into the old buildings once inhabited only by curious mice. Barren lots have burst to life with wildflowers and walking trails. The silence of the abandoned street now plays host to live music, poetry readings, and live theater.

Tactical Urbanism

The work on the site is a form of Tactical Urbanism, a low-cost, citizen led improvement of an already built environment using grassroots volunteer work. The project has been aided by the talents of painters, sculptors, landscape architects, horticulturists, engineers, urban planners, students, and more- and it’s all a work of heart.

Collaborators to the G-CADD project include Galen Gondolfi, founder of G-CADD and of the Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts in St. Louis, the City of Granite City, and Granite City groups including Alfresco Productions, Six Mile Sculpture Works, New American Gardening, STNDRD, and many others.
An ever-evolving endeavor, the site currently features the Insurance art gallery which hosts regular exhibitions, Pilot Plot Wildflower Park, a ‘Slot Lot’, a ten-person swing set titled ‘A Swing for all my Friends’, multiple artist-in-residence installations, and a collection of sculptures, architectural oddities, and indoor/outdoor spaces.

After thousands of hours of volunteer work, hope has blossomed in the formerly unusable district; it’s a quirky pit stop on your next road trip, an eclectic place to experience local art and the outdoors, and a living Granite City community ‘Where Art & Industry Meet’.

About the Author

Kayla Howland

Kayla Howland is a local writer and artist who lives in Alton, IL with her Cairn Terrier, Ripley. She enjoys fiction and non-fiction writing, graphic design, painting, drawing and photography. Kayla is a graduate of Southwestern High School and Lewis & Clark Community College. She has worked doing freelance graphic design, photography and commissioned paintings since 2012.