What is Main Street

About Main Street Banner

Over the past 34 years, the Main Street movement has transformed the way communities think about the revitalization of their historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts, and helped put historic preservation back in the community revitalization conversation. Cities and towns across the nation have come to see that a vibrant, sustainable community is only as healthy as its core.

Getting Started

How to implement the approach in your community

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Why Main Streets Matter

We all know where our Main Streets are, but do we know what they are and why they matter? Whether they are named First Avenue or Water Street or Martin Luther King Boulevard, what they represent is universal. Main Streets are the traditional center for social, cultural, and economic activity for their communities. They are the big stage, the core of the community. Our Main Streets tell us who we are and who we were, and how the past has shaped us. We do not go to bland suburbs or enclosed shopping malls to learn about our past, explore our culture, or discover our identity. Our Main Streets are the places of shared memory where the entire community still comes together to live, work, and play.

So what is Main Street?  The phrase has been used to describe everything from our nostalgic past to our current economic woes, but when we talk about Main Street®, we are thinking of real places doing real work to revitalize their communities and preserve their character. Specifically, Main Street® is three things: a proven strategy for revitalization, a powerful network of linked communities, and a national support program that leads the field. 

1. A Proven Strategy: The Main Street Four-Point Approach®

The Main Street Four-Point Approach® is a unique preservation-based organizing framework that enables communities to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts by leveraging local assets - from historic, cultural, and architectural resources to local enterprises and community pride. It is a comprehensive strategy that addresses the variety of issues and problems that challenge traditional commercial districts.

2. A Powerful Network: The Main Street Approach in Action

Main Street is a national movement that has spanned three decades and taken root in more than 2,000 communities - a movement that has spurred $56 billion in reinvestment in traditional commercial districts, galvanized thousands of volunteers, and changed the way governments, planners, and developers view preservation. Over the past 34 years, the National Main Street Center has overseen the development of a national network of 46 coordinating programs. These coordinating programs help cities, towns, and villages revitalize their downtown and neighborhood business districts. Coordinating program staff help build the capacity of local Main Street programs, expand the network of Main Street communities, provide resources and technical assistance, and work with the NMSC to explore new solutions to revitalization challenges and respond to emerging trends throughout the nation.

3. A Leader for the Movement: The National Main Street Center®

Since its founding in 1980, the National Main Street Center has been the leader of a coast-to-coast network now encompassing more than 2,000 programs and leaders who use the Main Street approach to rebuild the historic places and support local assets that create sustainable, vibrant communities.

 

Learn more about the Center.