THE Main Street

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June 23, 2011 by David Gillaspie

An American main street comes in all sizes.

Some call New York City’s Times Square ‘Americas Main Street.’

For others, it’s the nearest freeway.

More than likely, your main street falls somewhere between a Disney-fied inner-city crossroads once famous for pimps and prostitution, and President Eisenhower’s autobahn.

Maybe your main street is a reclaimed stretch of asphalt complete with precious facades harkening back to days of the General Store instead of Wal-Mart.

Or is it a few blocks with new lighting and statues?

Either way, main street means traffic, and traffic means trash.  No main street worthy of the name should be mistaken for a dump.

Just to be clear, find your main street.  It’s the one that shows the most people the kind of town you live in.

For example, Tigard, Oregon has a cute little downtown area that was by-passed when a bridge went up over the railroad tracks.  For years it sat forgotten with businesses coming and going.  Landlords content with the rent didn’t see any reason to make it more appealing.

They should have.

A street branching off Main got the lighting treatment, the curb treatment, and probably designed with the idea from Field of Dreams, If You Build It They Will Come.

Some might ask, “Where does this street go?”

It passes by a boatyard, an optomitrist, a firehouse, and ends near the police station.  These are not cultural icons that usually draw a crowd.

The real main street in Tigard takes off Hwy 99 and turns down the street occupied by big box stores like Costco.  While a series of warehouses won’t draw the architecturally curious, it seems to draw everyone else.

If a shopping trip is someone’s first visit to town, why not make a good impression?  You can’t tell drivers to keep their trash in their car, but you can make an effort to clean up what flies out their windows.

Ask yourself one question, is your main street a source of civic pride, or an ashtray?


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