Everyone’s Home: Celebrating America’s Main Street

By Nicky M. | Arcadia Staff
In early America, the center of any town was Main Street. And today, not much has changed in small-town USA: Main Street is still the heart of it all, and so engrained in American nostalgia that even Disneyland has its own Main Street USA. Today, we’re featuring vintage photos of Main Street across America, to celebrate these little havens of American community and culture.

. In this 1904 photo from Spartanburg, South Carolina, a large crowd is gathered on the first block of East Main Street, while a woman overlooks the scene from the roof of a nearby two-story building.A town’s Main Street is often one of the busiest streets you’ll come by, as it serves as the main center for most small businesses and shops. In this 1904 photo from Spartanburg, South Carolina, a large crowd is gathered on the first block of East Main Street, while a woman overlooks the scene from the roof of a nearby two-story building.

This 1934 postcard shows Main Street in Durham, Connecticut.Although many Main Streets are busy locations, full of people and economy, there are some towns that prefer their main road be a bit quieter. This 1934 postcard shows Main Street in Durham, Connecticut. The view of the road was taken at the town’s library, showcasing how quiet it was during the era.

. In this 1957 postcard from Little Rock, a few stores still remain on Main Street, despite a recent shopping center being opened in another part of the city.For many major cities, Main Street remained the center of commerce until the rise of suburbs in the late 1950s. After many suburbs built shopping centers that claimed national and small stores, a city Main Street usually became home to large business, or financial companies. In this 1957 postcard from Little Rock, a few stores still remain on Main Street, despite a recent shopping center being opened in another part of the city.

Gayle Creel walks ahead of the Campbellsville High School Band in Campbellville’s 1957 Fourth of July parade.Besides housing business, many fondly remember city parades and celebrations being held on their own Main Street. Whether it be for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, a town’s Main Street is often the destination of choice for small parades. Here, Gayle Creel walks ahead of the Campbellsville High School Band in Campbellville’s 1957 Fourth of July parade.

In this 1935 photo, residents of Groton, New York stand in a flooded Main Street, which was frequently inundated with water by the nearby Owasco Inlet.A small town’s Main Street is no more impervious to a disaster than any other. In this 1935 photo, residents of Groton, New York stand in a flooded Main Street, which was frequently inundated with water by the nearby Owasco Inlet.

At the corner of Fourth and Main in Los Angeles, traffic is bustling in this 1924 photo.Even the country’s biggest cities have their own Main Street to call home. At the corner of Fourth and Main in Los Angeles, traffic is bustling in this 1924 photo. Most of the Main Street buildings seen in this photo are still standing today.

This 1919 photo shows a band leading World War I soldiers through the town of Northville, Michigan.Even during times of war and suffering, the American people have come to celebrations on their Main Street. This 1919 photo shows a band leading World War I soldiers through the town of Northville, Michigan. This photo was taken on Decoration Day, a full month before the Treaty of Versailles was signed to end the Great War.

This 1920s photo shows the Poinsett Hotel towering over Main Street in Greenville, South Carolina.As small American towns began to develop into large cities, Main Street became the home of large skyscrapers and commercial businesses. This 1920s photo shows the Poinsett Hotel towering over Main Street in Greenville, South Carolina. The hotel is surrounded by many well-known businesses, like Belk-Simpson Department Store.

This 1903 photo shows Main Street in Sisterville, West Virginia.Not every Main Street is a hustle and bustle of activity, however. In some towns, Main Street is no different than any other residential street, with large historic homes through the center of town. This 1903 photo shows Main Street in Sisterville, West Virginia.

This photo shows some of Santa’s helpers on South Main Street during the Tulsa Christmas Parade in 1949.While Macy’s might have a monopoly on the grand Thanksgiving parade, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma claims Christmas. Each year, thousands flock to Main Street in Tulsa to watch one of the country’s largest Christmas parades. This photo shows some of Santa’s helpers on South Main Street in 1949.
 
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