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Thread: Down on Main Street

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Down on Main Street

    Main Street: it's the most common street name in the US, but let's see how they different (or alike they are)

    Williamsville, NY

    Kansas City, MO

    Morton Grove, IL

    Seen any interesting Main Streets lately?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    No Main Street in Chicago. Evanston just to the north has a Main Street, though its not actually the Main Street there. The British equivalent is High Street.

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    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Main street is actually not the most common. I always though it was Broad (Way and Street), but no. According to the National League of Cities it's the following.
    Taking numbers out of the equation it's Park, Main, Oak, Pine, Maple top five.


    This list enumerates the twenty most common street names and the number of nationwide occurrences:

    Second (10,866)
    Third (10,131)
    First (9,898)
    Fourth (9,190)
    Park (8,926)
    Fifth (8,186)
    Main (7,644)
    Sixth (7,283)
    Oak (6,946)
    Seventh (6,377)
    Pine (6,170)
    Maple (6,103)
    Cedar (5,644)
    Eighth (5,524)
    Elm (5,233)
    View (5,202)
    Washington (4,974)
    Ninth (4,908)
    Lake (4,901)
    Hill (4,877)
    @GigCityPlanner

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    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    There are a lot of "Maine Street"s around here - get it? It's true.
    Don't read the comments section. You want to, but don't do it.

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    A few of the better "Main Streets" in suburban Chicago:

    Downers Grove: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=main+...07,,0,2.7&z=18

    Naperville: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=main+...12,188.83,,0,1 (my personal favorite)

    St. Charles: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=main+...09.05,,0,-7.11

    The Main Street where I grew up (Huntley). Still kinda quaint/country-like: https://maps.google.com/maps?q=main+...12,114.24,,0,0
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    No Main Street in Chicago. Evanston just to the north has a Main Street, though its not actually the Main Street there. The British equivalent is High Street.
    Interesting this one, because high in that context was meant as "main", but then US/Canada uses the term "Highway" in the same sense, to reflect a main road (I used to think it was a reference to high speed). Britain instead uses the term motorway, even though Highway would arguably make more sense given the existing use of the term "Highstreet". The english language is rarely logical it seems.

    Anyway, one thing I find interesting is a couple of new outdoor shopping malls around here have chosen to call themselves "High Street" or have high street somewhere in the name, I guess because it sounds upmarket.

    My local "Main Street": https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Frase...12,116,,0,6.78
    There have been talks about pedestrianizing the whole thing in the past, but there is always resistance from the Business association because customers like to be able to park next to the store they're going to. A shame really because I personally think it would really improve the character of the road, provided that adequate parking was installed elsewhere.
    Last edited by jameshansenbc; 17 Feb 2014 at 6:45 PM.

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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Bob Seger?
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

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    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    I loved to watch her do her stuff.
    Children in the back seat can cause accidents - and vice versa.

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    I heard that Main Street was actually not the inspiration for Bob Seger's "Mainstreet", but actually a street called Ann Street in Ann Arbor.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

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    Cyburbian Plus
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    Is there a common street name that is the dividing line between "North" Main from "South" Main ?

    Just as "Main" Street is usually the dividing line for "East _____" and "West _______"

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

    You know...for kids.

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    Off-topic:
    Coldwater Cafe is all I have to say to you. Mmmmm....
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian terraplnr's avatar
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    Here's something you don't see every day on Main Street (unless you live in Venice, CA)... http://goo.gl/maps/dPW73

    This Main Street always makes me feel like I'm home (where I went to undergrad)... http://goo.gl/maps/URJE3

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by terraplnr View post
    This Main Street always makes me feel like I'm home (where I went to undergrad)... http://goo.gl/maps/URJE3
    That's a really nice one, very stylish fixtures with those street and traffic lights, and I like the tree separation of the sidewalk from the road. Looks very welcoming and walkable - must have cost a pretty penny to do all that.

  16. #16
    Mod Gedunker's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    It's amazing to me how many downtowns have done some or all of the "bricks, banners, benches, bollards, berms, bandstands" of the 1990s urban redevelopment design theme and there are still no pedestrians on the sidewalks. If you don't put the car in its place, people will not walk downtown.
    The old women used to say you could tell the next day’s weather, by whether you could hear the highway or the railroad at night. I recall that they were right more often than not.

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Why is it that there are so many times that "main street" is not the primary street for business in a CBD? Marquette Mi, as an example, as a Main Street that is actually a block off of Washington, which is the primary commercial street.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    It's amazing to me how many downtowns have done some or all of the "bricks, banners, benches, bollards, berms, bandstands" of the 1990s urban redevelopment design theme and there are still no pedestrians on the sidewalks. If you don't put the car in its place, people will not walk downtown.
    You do have to consider that Google's car probably takes a lot of these images during the middle of the workday (and probably not during the lunch hour, but rather in the morning or afternoon), when most people are working and not out lolly-gagging. Had they gone out on a summer weekend night around 7pm, or right at the lunch hour on any summer day, you would likely see a ton of pedestrians. Even if all the suburban jobs moved from the interstate office parks to the suburban downtowns, I still think most people would be inside from 9-11:30 and 1:30-5 on a given weekday.

    Also, suburbs and small cities are less dense by nature. Only so many people are within walking distance from downtown. The rest have to drive to downtown and either park on the street or in a parking lot or garage. But believe me, for the three Main Streets I posted, they all have large public garages and people use them very heavily, leaving their cars there while they stroll around downtown.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  19. #19
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Why is it that there are so many times that "main street" is not the primary street for business in a CBD? Marquette Mi, as an example, as a Main Street that is actually a block off of Washington, which is the primary commercial street.
    Because of a place's specific and unique history and cultural/geographic particularities.

    That's why policies or actions or codes, etc are seldom transferable wholesale from place to place.
    Last edited by mendelman; 15 May 2017 at 9:07 AM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Every day is today. Yesterday is a myth and tomorrow an illusion.

    You know...for kids.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian
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    I'd be curious to see any convincing new Main Streets that have been created within the past 20 years. It seems like the best ones rely on the old-city charm of the smaller grid plans (narrower roads/more corners), heritage buildings and pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.

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    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    From my former town, Wilmington, NC where "Main Street" wasn't taken yet so a new "Lifestyle Center" grabbed it up.
    @GigCityPlanner

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    From my former town, Wilmington, NC where "Main Street" wasn't taken yet so a new "Lifestyle Center" grabbed it up.
    It looks very nice, and impressively done on a huge scale, but looking around there I see all the stores are big names - I suspect the rent is too high for any business that isn't a chain. I guess that's another condition missing from my list of "Main Street" criteria - independent businesses. A heritage town near me called Fort Langley explicitly bans any franchises from the town center - a bold move - but it still has a thriving shopping street in the center without the chains. It is a big part of what gives old main streets their character.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    It is not Main Street, but a new main street. Lakewood, Colorado

    https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&l...272.13,,0,2.64
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  24. #24
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker View post
    Off-topic:
    It's amazing to me how many downtowns have done some or all of the "bricks, banners, benches, bollards, berms, bandstands" of the 1990s urban redevelopment design theme and there are still no pedestrians on the sidewalks. If you don't put the car in its place, people will not walk downtown.
    This isn't off-topic. It's the kind of observation and comparisin I was hoping would occur with this thread.

    And you're right, a LOT of communities used the same playbook during the 90's/early 2000's for downtown redevelopment.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  25. #25
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    It is not Main Street, but a new main street. Lakewood, Colorado

    https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&l...272.13,,0,2.64
    Coralville, Iowa did the same thing: https://www.google.com/maps/@41.6754...t_mrez-lPg!2e0
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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