NOTO: A brief history on Topeka’s popular district

Sunset in NOTO: A typical late Tuesday afternoon in Topeka’s Arts District. NOTO has been a developing art district within the 2010s.

Joelle Conway

The historic North Topeka art district (NOTO) has become the city’s main attraction for cultural arts and entertainment. The district is located in the 800-900 blocks of North Kansas Ave. in Topeka.

NOTO contains creative experiences and one of a kind artisanal shopping, as well as diverse dining. The district features art galleries, studios, boutiques, antique shops and more.

The artistic hub hosts “First Friday Art Walks,” an event that takes place on the first Friday of every month and brings artists, vendors and people together. On First Fridays, many of the shops and art galleries stay open late and offer music, special events, food services and shopping at its many unique shops.

The NOTO district was once a popular pit-stop along the Union Pacific Railroad in the 1800s, as the district is located next to the Union Railroad Station. Each business has a placard displayed in the window that contains information on the history of the building where their business is now located.

In the beginning of the 2010s, the Topeka community was surveyed by the Heartland Visioning process. In the survey, many Topekans desired an arts district in the city. Thus, the old North Topeka railroad stop became a unique entertainment and artistic center, which attracted a series of investors who created the NOTO Topeka citizens know today. Developers purchased many of the buildings and began remodeling, yet they worked to maintain the historical integrity of each building. The NOTO Arts & Entertainment District started with three new businesses in 2011, and 12 more businesses opened throughout 2012. Since then, NOTO is the home of about 50 businesses, as listed on this link:

The vision statement of the NOTO Arts & Entertainment District is “a vibrant and prospering arts and entertainment that is a community partner and regional leader.” A detailed overview of the NOTO Arts & Entertainment District and what it stands for can be found at

Edited by Adam White, Abbie Barth, Shelby Hanson