Downtown Asheville hosts an eclectic potpourri of artisans, merchants, restaurants, taverns, offices—almost all locally owned—and some of the best people watching in the country. Visitors from all parts of the world travel to America’s Shangri-La to enjoy its natural beauty, offbeat cosmopolitanism, and therapeutic sensibility.
Asheville was founded at the end of the 18th century but remained a frontier village until 1880 when the railroad arrived. Thousands of vacationing lowlanders, seeking to escape the summer heat and to find health and peace amid the mountain air, “ascended” into the city. Boarding houses and hotels proliferated; the Biltmore House, America’s biggest home then and today, was completed in 1895; and during the 1920s, downtown became a national showcase of Art Deco architecture.
The Great Depression, however, stunted Asheville for almost 60 years, as the city worked to pay off an enormous amount of municipal debt incurred during the preceding boom years, and little new was built. In the early 1990's, downtown development began again, transforming Asheville into what you see today, an exciting mix of historic buildings and modern renovation imbued with a vibrant and playful energy.