Insights from the EID
The Heart of Downtown Evansville – A Love Note to Downtown
By Josh Armstrong, President, Downtown Evansville Economic Improvement District
The Downtown Evansville Economic Improvement District (EID) was formed by the unanimous action of City Council following a 2017 petition process of Downtown property owners. The EID provides benefits for over 400 parcels in the central business district; these benefits are paid for by an annual assessment on the parcels that directly benefit from our efforts. A board of seventeen property and business owners provide guidance and governance, while day-to-day efforts are led by a staff of three full-time employees. Our Mission: “The Downtown Evansville EID builds a more active and inclusive Downtown Evansville. We enhance resident, consumer, investor, worker and visitor experiences in Downtown Evansville.” We address our mission in a variety of ways, but at the very core of our work is that we put people onto our sidewalks to provide an urban, quotidian fellowship with each other.
We’ve discovered some fun ways to bring people into Downtown, and one of our favorites are light installations. Our Wall of Light during the winter season filled a vacant space on Main Street with thousands of white lights behind an evergreen screen. The Wall of Light became the winter photo background for family Christmas cards, high school dance photos, the location for at least one engagement, and, was included in hundreds of Facebook and Instagram posts viewed by tens-of-thousands of people across the globe.
Here’s how these develop community: people help each other take photos. While some people bring photographers, professionals or a friend, most users of the installations hand their phone to a stranger and ask them to take their picture. The subjects, in turn, fill that photographer role for another person just a few seconds later. Demonstrating trust and sharing a moment of community; not a bad outcome for a project designed to place people onto the sidewalk.
As we love Downtown Evansville, we wanted to spread some love for Valentine’s day. “The Heart of Downtown Evansville" has been installed multiple places throughout the past year, and is currently by the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana at 212 Main Street. The Heart of Downtown Evansville allows couples, families, friends, and individuals to step inside a hand-crafted heart containing 2,700 glowing lights. Participants are asked to tag #lovedtevv on their social media posts so we can share selected posts through our platforms.
The installation is seen by Downtown residents, employees, diners, and shoppers. The installation has been the site of many memories, particularly engagements! We know more memories will continue to be made in and around the Heart of Downtown Evansville…memories which will connect participants with Downtown as well as the broader community.
For the Love of Cities author Peter Kageyama calls these types of installations “love notes” to the city. He suggests that vital and vibrant cities are about more than just being functional and safe…that they also emphasize “fun” and “surprise and delight” residents and visitors. We hope to see you soon at this “love note” and that you’ll share your love of Evansville and the region with those you know.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Armstrong is the President of the Downtown Evansville Economic Improvement District (EID). Over four-hundred parcels in the heart of Downtown Evansville pay an annual assessment to the EID for benefits and services for those specific parcels. The EID is governed by a board of property owners, residents and business leaders, and managed by a professional staff of three. The Downtown Evansville EID builds a more active and inclusive Downtown Evansville. We enhance resident, consumer, investor, worker and visitor experiences in Downtown Evansville.