RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Public art is doing more than lighting up downtown Raleigh, but it’s bringing more people into areas of the city most financially impacted by the pandemic.

According to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, foot traffic more than doubled on Fayetteville Street during the first Friday of December compared to the November average.

It was also the launch of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and Wake Tech’s Illuminate Art Walk which features interactive light displays– all within walking distance.

Downtown Raleigh Alliance President Bill King said at one point on Friday, downtown traffic increased by 234 percent.

(Graph from Downtown Raleigh Alliance)

“It shows you the power that if you have really compelling public art installations that are interactive and fun, people will come to see them and it will change the foot traffic in your downtown,” King said.

King also said in looking at downtown revitalization, it heavily depends on the neighborhood.

For example, he said the city’s entertainment district, Glenwood South, has been performing at well above pre-pandemic levels for at least a year.

But for Fayetteville St., the area largely relies on business offices, which have only returned about 50 to 60 percent back in-person. 

“Still not back to where we were pre-pandemic but we’re getting there.” Josh Gagne, owner of Haymaker Bar on south Fayetteville St. said. “Downtown Raleigh has really been doing a great job at adding stuff like Illuminate that’s bringing a lot of families downtown that I’ve seen.”

Gagne said the return of major music events like the World of Bluegrass and other food and drink festivals have been a big help.

“We’re excited to see stuff next year come back to downtown with beer festivals and food truck rodeos and things like that,” Gagne said. “It just gives people a reason to come back down here.”