Heart of the High Plains: Center City of Amarillo

Heart of the High Plains

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Beautifying and restoring historic downtown Amarillo to make it the best that it can be. That’s the mission of Center City Amarillo.

“You don’t want your city to operate like a donut because what’s in the middle of a donut? A hole and it just gets bigger and bigger. You want your city to develop like a cinnamon roll because what’s the best part of a cinnamon roll? The middle,” said Beth Duke, Center City of Amarillo Executive Director.

There may be no other person in Amarillo that could explain the importance and impact that a downtown can have on a community better than Beth Duke.

“It really is the heart of the high plains because downtown is the center,” said Duke.

Center City began back in 1996 when a group of concerned citizens felt that they were beginning to lose historic downtown Amarillo.

“That’s what I love about Amarillo. It’s that pioneers spirit, the heart of the high plains, we have to do it ourselves. So they gathered together and began saving our historic buildings and I’m so glad they did,” said Duke.

Duke joined Center City in 2005. In 2008, they adopted a strategic downtown action plan to make downtown a unique place.

“To live, work, play, learn and worship. I’m proud to say that we are making progress in all those areas,” said Duke.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought with it some challenges to Duke and her staff last year as they had to cancel and adjust some of their events.

“It was the year of the pandemic pivot. Everybody had to pivot. We did have to cancel high noon on the square. Last year with market, the first three were virtual Facebook markets because we wanted to give our vendors a chance to move their inventory, share their merchandise,” said Duke.

As only Duke could put it, things are starting to bounce back.

“I used the analogy during the pandemic that things were kind of a trickle, now it’s a firehose. We started community market, high noon on the square. The same week we had the downtown cattle drive. It just affirms that we are making downtown everybody’s neighborhood,” said Duke.

Center City will hold its last High Noon on the Square of the season on Wednesday at noon on the Potter County Courthouse lawn.

The Community Market is held every Saturday on downtown Polk Street and runs through Sept. 11.

To learn more about Center City, click here: https://centercity.org/

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