Monday, June 8, 2009

Main Street

Main Street, Abasha, Georgia, Copyright Alsandro, GNU 1.2
Main Street, Auburn, WA, Copyright Joe Mabel, GNU Licencse 1.2

Main Street, Chalmers, Indiana (Huw Williams, public domain)

In every town great and small there was a single line, a main road where the first businesses took hold. A central street, it sometimes remained small, as in the case of Seattle, WA where the main street is barely on the map, because too much would have to be demolished to widen it. The buildings there had value, and remained, and stood as a testimony to whenever and by whomever the town was built for as long as that value is greater then the land they stand on. From this crass economy comes a wonder known as the American Main Street.

Communities would gather there, memories would be made there, history can be smelled there. Main streets feel like home, without conceit or glory, but instead almost laugh at themselves through their own brick. They are not glamorous, and they are not an occasion to dress up or gaze at wonder, but instead give comfort, salt of the earth. They can, however, become twisted and distorted, especially in towns near major cities that become rich suburbs. In such towns, those with more money then sense drive the old businesses out in favor of shops that sell a small cookie for five bucks or pants for two hundred dollars.
The businesses that gather on a main street will be small originally. Later on big names, like McDonalds, may replace them, but a main street is only truly a main street while the proprietors live nearby.
We are witnessing something sad - the development of preplanned communities, like Brasillia, where human nature is removed in favor of city planners drawing lines on maps. I know their intentions are good - better transportation, lower costs, greater cleanliness and stabillity - but they don't know that we will lose something greater, for there are some things we will never understand well enough to plan for. There are the webs we all instinctively weave as we undergo our individual visions and daily tasks, bound together, tying and weaving together to build a story, rootedness, community, something to truly live in, as supposed to something that allows us to avoid.
Main streets keep a city rooted, tell us where we are, and remind us, in the way that a great painting would, what is truly important about life.


K. Frangeskos said...

Hi Jeremy,
Great post...very insightful! You see the beauty and charm of our roots...some things should be cherished...
and please visit me at
JESUS KNOWS YOU BEST....WHAT DO YOU NEED (post)? I left a message for you there :)
Have a great day and continue your great writing!
Warm regards

Jeremy Janson said...

Good to see you K. Frangeskos, thanks for stopping by. I'll definitely check on that blogpost as well.