• Benji Sills

Cat Alley

After a quick (and very cold) overnight to northern New Hampshire, we were midway through the long trek back home when we decided to make one last pilgrimage for adventure and drove slightly off the beaten path into the city of Manchester, New Hampshire. There we snagged street parking and toddled around, semi-lost, for a few minutes. We were looking for Cat Alley, a narrow passageway that we’d heard was plastered in murals of every imaginable cat variation.

Eventually we found the pedestrian side-street: a thin space that leads to Manchester’s public library. Originally known for little more than being a small street, Dean Court was renamed Cat Alley - supposedly when a man saw an epic battle between two street cats there. The street remained fairly ordinary (apart from the occasional feline brawl) until a local realtor decided to transform the passage into an art gallery. Working with a number of street artists, cat alley was turned into a vibrant showcase of public art. If you haven’t yet been able to cleanse yourself of the CGI monsters from Cats the movie musical, then this is a fair place to start.

The art styles vary wildly, but all focus on the same central theme. There are vibrant kittens dressed like Cooking Mama characters, standing barefoot on giant cupcakes in what surely must be a health violation. There’s another set of cats that appear to be a barber attending to a customer, although the scissors are held outstretched in a possible prelude to a gritty murder. There are cats drinking coffee and cats looking out of windows and one bold cat even attempting to ice skate. Our favorite was a twiggy white cat riding on the back of an even more spindly black cat, who looked like they’d been stopped on the way to a Tim Burton audition. If you like cats, or you like art, or you’ve gotten very lost and ended up in Manchester for some reason, it’s worth a stop.

If you put Dean Avenue, Manchester, New Hampshire, 03101 United States into your GPS, then you should be directed straight there. Just keep an eye out for the skinny side street covered in cats - you'll know it when you see it!

The art is public so admission is, of course, free.

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