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Boomin’ Beekman: A Look at the Beekman Street Arts District in Saratoga

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Beekman Street: Saratoga’s Thriving Arts District

History of Beekman Street: An Artistic and Cultural Renaissance in the Heart of Saratoga Springs

The Dublin Neighborhood Historic MarkerNot too long ago, Beekman Street had fallen victim to widespread dilapidation and underuse.

Posted at the beginning of Beekman’s three block stretch is a historical marker, nicknaming it the “Dublin neighborhood” – a name which the area acquired around 1860, almost two decades after hundreds of Irish immigrants fled their homes during the potato famine to work in Saratoga’s railroad and tourism industries. By the 1870s, Italians had settled there as well, making Beekman Street Saratoga’s first prime residential location. The colorful diversity the Irish and Italians brought to the area, like street festivals, ethnic clubs and restaurants, were almost completely wiped out and rundown by the late 1980s after the majority of the Irish and Italian families died or moved away.

Beginning in the late 1990s, a grassroots effort came about to revive the Beekman area; as the result of many years of hard work, the Beekman Street Art District was born.

Beekman has gone through its renaissance. It has been revived; it is wholeheartedly booming and has found an alternative identity while keeping its history intact.

In 2005, the Saratoga Preservation Foundation received a $190,000 grant and has since completed its rehabilitation of Beekman’s commercial buildings and houses. According to information provided by the Preservation Foundation, “grants were provided to seven buildings, resulting in matching investments of several hundred thousand dollars by the buildings’ owners.” From these grants and investments, the Beekman Street neighborhood, now recognized as an official Art District has become home to art galleries, an artist co-op, restaurants, specialty shops, jewelers, potters and holistic practitioners.

The Beekman Street Fine Arts GalleryKeeping in step with Saratoga’s idea of upholding to its “history”, Beekman’s abandoned and neglected buildings were not torn down to make room for new ones, but rather repaired and given a new life. The 70 Beekman Street Fine Arts Gallery is housed in a 140-year-old building and the Frederick Allen Lodge at 69 Beekman, home to the Black Elks has been restored to its original 1930s grandeur. The Beekman Street Bistro, a repeat recipient of Metroland accolades (and a local favorite) was a condemned building just a few years ago. Now not only is it a popular dinner destination, but the restaurant is committed to using local and sustainable products in every dish they create.

To help residents and visitors better navigate and explore all that is Beekman, the city holds First Saturday events to increase awareness and public access for the arts. Between the gallery openings, shops and restaurants, there’s a lot to explore, and if you’re looking to get to know the area a little better, I’d recommend heading over there on a Saturday. The street also brought festivals and parades back to its streets, with an annual Arts Fest and other celebrations like a Beekman Street Mardi Gras.

Beekman Street, with all of its culture (new and old), is artsy without being presumptuous, and is actually a refreshing change from its Broadway counterpart. It has a much more local flavor, and while Saratoga is defined by its three H’s, horses (and the track) tend to take precedence over its history. This is understandable as Saratoga continues to rely heavily on tourism as its main source of income, but because of this the town can indeed feel…touristy. There are only so many ways you can put a damn thoroughbred on something. If you’re a local who sometimes needs to get away from all the horsing-around, or a visitor who would like to see another side of Saratoga, one that has already become its own force, take a stroll around historic Beekman.

For more information on the Arts Districts’ shops, galleries, restaurants and more, visit The Beekman Street Arts District.

Aubree Cutkomp is an Assistant Editor for The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

Short URL: http://thefreegeorge.com/thefreegeorge/?p=16199

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