Main Street Revisited: Time, Space, and Image Building in Small-Town America

Main Street Revisited: Time, Space, and Image Building in Small-Town America

by Richard V. Francaviglia

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Whether in Sinclair Lewis novels, Jimmy Stewart films or Norman Rockwell paintings, no American image is as uniformly depicted as that of Main Street, with its Fourth of July parades, five-and-dime stores and barber poles. This book, part of Iowa's American Land and Life series, asks how and why the recognizably generic streetscape took shape. Francaviglia, an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Arlington, documents the physical changes in downtown America over the years and offers 16 axioms that define the design and development of the small-town commercial center. Photographs taken from Maine to California reveal Main Street's material culture: building styles and materials, street plans, road surfaces and lighting. An interesting paradox emerges: that Main Street is both mundane and utopian, mundane in its aspirations to uniformity but utopian in that it embodies an ideal of life in America. Francaviglia's otherwise bland study culminates in a somewhat belabored defense of the influence of Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A. on the very form and existence of America's downtown shopping districts since the 1950s. For historians of architecture and town planning, this book will offer a useful review of Main Street's development. But readers interested in why Main Street came to represent American ideals may be disappointed. Photos and illustrations. (June)

Product Details

University of Iowa Press
Publication date:
American Land & Life Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

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