Asheville / Region
In the last 100 years Asheville has undergone a tremendous transformation. From a sleepy town in the mountains, where patients cured tuberculosis, to a booming tourist attraction, Asheville’s transformation reached its peak in the 1920s, when streets were paved, high risers built, old buildings torn down and hills leveled to make room for grander structures. During that time Asheville became the third largest city in North Carolina just behind Charlotte and Wilmington.
But this building frenzy ended very abruptly with the stock market crash in 1929 and the following depression. Building projects were canceled and public life slowed down considerably.
The biggest blow to Asheville’s finances came on November 20, 1930, when eight local banks failed wiping out the fortunes of many families and businesses. The County’s towering debt-load of over $56 million, which it had accumulated to pay for infrastructure improvements and prestigious buildings, brought Asheville and the County almost to its knees.
Instead of defaulting on the debt or selling the buildings, the Commissioners wisely made the decision to pay the debt off over a 50-year period.
From the Great Depression to the 1980s growth in the region was slow. As public funds were scarce, many of Asheville’s buildings in the downtown area remained unaltered and were therefore preserved. Asheville now enjoys the most impressive collection of Art Deco style buildings in the U.S.
It was in the 1980s, when Asheville started to slowly re-emerge as a tourist destination. Asheville had become known to many artists, who established themselves in the city, attracting even more artists over the years, which led to the creation of the vibrant arts community we know today. In the last 30 years, Asheville developed into a lively, charming city, which many visitors loved so much that they adopted Asheville as their new home.
Asheville’s rise also got noticed nationally in the 2000s, when television, several magazines and newspapers ran articles about Asheville describing the city as one of the “Best Places to Reinvent your Life” or as one of the “10 Most Beautiful Places in America”.