Visit Cat Alley to see the cat art

Visit Manchester's Cat Alley to see the cat art
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Visit Cat Alley, to see the cat art. This cat-themed spot is a mecca of feline art, full of murals painted on this cat-themed alley in what used to be Manchester, NH’s Dean Court.

This small alley, located off Elm Street, has been transformed into an outside cat-centric art gallery, now a haven for cat-obsessed tourists and locals alike.

Formally known as ‘Dean Court,’ the slight side street leading to the public library has become a needle in a haystack. Yes, there’s trash and you might want to reserve your visit to daylight hours (but after all, that’s the best time to see the cat murals).

Cat Murals line Cat Alley’s Walls

You will be delighted by the cat murals lining the alley walls when visiting Cat Alley. There are over 30, some painted by local artists – others by local kids.

The cats aren’t just any old cats. They are displayed in various poses working in a number of different professions including copycat editors at the Manchester Union Leader, cat burglars doing their thievery in the middle of the night, and even cat barbers cutting hair.

One would not expect to find a cat alley in New Hampshire. These are usually found in places like the Neko no Hosomichi or Cat Alley in Onomichi, a hidden treasure of Japan. We also found there’s Cat Alley in Denver, CO, much on the same bent.

Cat dividing line on August Cat Holidays

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 A little bit of history about Cat Alley 

Interestingly enough, cat alley has been involved with cats for a long time. The alleyway got its name from a pioneering cotton mill manufacturer.

It gained its more well-known nickname from someone named C.T. Durgin. While our research did not find out exactly who he was, a bronze plaque at the site says that the man named the alley after seeing a battle between a pair of stray cats on the small street.

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    For most of its life, Cat Alley was just an ordinary street that was known for being an alley. 

    Cat Alley did not become the street art gallery it is today until a local realtor took a shine to the little alley, and began a campaign to revitalize the street.

    After raising some money and working with local businesses, he was able to get permission to decorate the alley in cats. He then teamed up with a local artist who worked with at-risk street artists and had a number of wall murals painted across the brick, creating an urban art gallery. He even got the Cat Alley historical plaque installed.

    Manchester's Cat Alley has over 30 cat themed murals some depicting various professions in the city.
    A visit to Manchester’s Cat Alley showcases the history of the city. (Photo courtesy Chingum.com)

    Visits to Cat Alley took off in 2011

    The project really took off in 2011. At that time, there were only three murals. The rest of the wall was empty Then, Anthony Williams, an artist, and muralist in Manchester stepped up to the plate. He had produced work for St. Joe’s school of nursing and the Loudon library. He also became the point-person in organizing artists to paint murals in Cat Alley.

    Now there are over 30 murals at Cat Alley. You’ll also find cat bicycle racks, as an added bonus.

    Artists included an 11-year old girl, a homeless woman who came daily with a rolled up blanket full of brushes and paints, and more traditional artists.

    Additional artists involved in this artistic display include Peg Lipin, Bill Earnshaw, Brian Lapree, Noonan, Cindy O’Rourke, Del Christensen, Aimee Cozza, 11-year-old Kaitlin Gould, Brianna Gould, Caroline Chavette, Emily Drouin, Alex Mathieu and Anita Huddlestun.

    Today, the alley sports dozens and dozens of murals dedicated to cats. Cats, who are in some way, paying homage to the history of Manchester.

    Should you find visiting  Manchester, the Granite State, or New England with some time to kill and a desire to get your cat fix on vacation, head for Cat Alley.   

    Check out these cat tourism spots

    Check out some of our posts on cat tourism spots in the Northeastern US and beyond.

    Know Before You Go

    • Cat Alley is located across the street from XO Restaurant and the entrance is just to the right of Lala’s Hungarian Pastries at 836 Elm St.
    • Hours: Accessible 24 hours a day
    • Cost: Free
    • Handicapped Accessible: Yes
    • Dog Friendly: Yes
    • Parking: There is plentiful parking on Elm St.  Just don’t forget to feed the meter.
    • Summary: Images of cats painted on the walls of an alley in Manchester, NH.
    • Highlights: graffiti, family friendly, historical

    Tips for visiting Cat Alley

    • Cat alley is located on Dean Avenue between The Bookery, (844 Elm St) and Lala’s Hungarian Pastry (836 Elm St)
      • The alley is a little hard to find.  But, if you set your GPS to 844 or 836 Elm St you will be able to see it.  Unless you get there early, you may have to park some distance from the alley.  But, once you see the sign for Dean Avenue that can be found on the shingle of LaLa’s Pastry Shop you will know you’re there.
    • Parking meter timers are enforced strictly
    • The street sign for Dean Avenue can be found on the shingle of LaLa’s Pastry Shop
    Cat dividing line on August Cat Holidays

    Are you cat-obsessed? Do you have some vacation spots you go to where you get a big dose of cat? Paws would love for your to share your photos and stories through our comments section. To keep abreast of the latest cat news on tourism and events, sign up for our email list below, and get Your FREE Comprehensive Guide to Stop Your Cat from Destroying Your Sofa.

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