Creek to Canal Creative District

Utilizing art and culture as catalysts for community and economic development in Trenton

The Creek to Canal (C2C) Creative District is designed to build on the city’s thriving arts and culture scene by supporting creative projects in Downtown Trenton.

The district sits between the D&R Canal and Assunpink Creek. Route 1 follows along the eastern side, while the western border at Willow Street connects the District to historic sites and the state capitol complex.

C2C is the result of six months of planning – known as Trenton Arts in Focus – where Trenton residents and stakeholders identified how the Downtown can benefit from the infusion of fresh art galleries, studios, and other creative businesses during redevelopment. The Creative District leverages the progress of local art organizations and artists as well as community support, political will, and the resources that support positive change in Trenton.

Want to learn more about C2C?

The Challenge

The 165-acre Creek to Canal Creative District has opportunities for additional rehabs, 107 distressed or vacant buildings, 28 vacant storefronts, 4 acres of vacant land, and 26 acres of underutilized surface parking. These properties could be used in creative ways, such as pop-up businesses in vacant storefronts and art galleries in underutilized parking lots. The area that makes up C2C has also suffered from past economic disinvestment:

  • 47% of residents earn less than $25,000 per year
  • 40% of families live in poverty
  • 52% of renters pay more than they can afford on housing
  • The unemployment rate is 19%

Negative perceptions of Trenton are a challenge when attracting residents, artists, creative entrepreneurs, businesses, and visitors to the Creative District. Trenton’s arts scene is also largely underground and suffers from a lack of adequate promoting, where many are largely unaware of events. Isles works to continuously celebrate and advocate for the arts in Trenton through our work in the C2C Action Committee and public arts policy.

Why C2C?

The C2C Creative District has many existing assets and resources such as its prime location in Downtown, excellent highway and transit access, architecture, and engaged stakeholders. The growth of this area is vital in supporting local businesses and services, generate more activity, which in turn will result in safer streets and increased vibrancy. Investment in C2C:

  • Celebrates its diversity of urban character and embraces a unified identify 
  • Changes perception of the area for both Trentonians and visitors. Must redefine the image of the area, and of Trenton, for insiders and outsiders alike.
  • Creative District must oOffers programs and policies that maintain community continuity over time, helping artists and residents build wealth and remain in place to benefit as Downtown and Old Trenton become neighborhoods of choice. 
  • Values walkable and bikeable experiences that are close to the train station and well-served by highways and bus routes. 

View this interactive map for more details.

C2C Highlights 

Isles leveraged funding from the Department of Community Affairs, which led to the rehab and opening of the Broad Street Bank Gallery.

Convened a task force of artists, arts organizations, community stakeholders, and municipal representatives to craft recommendations on public art policy for the new City administration.

Established an online gallery of public art in the district along with an interactive “Then & Now” photo gallery comparing and contrasting historic photos of buildings with current views.