Posted by: wtfwjd? | October 3, 2008

Exile of Main Street

Atrios writes:

“Main Street”

At least at one time it referred to something which people at least had some experience with and connection to even if it didn’t fit their current circumstances. But now I don’t think most people have any sense of what it refers to.

In terms of what kind of place it is, “Main Street” today consists of a string of big box stores alongside a highway, strung together by unwalkable and almost-undriveable parking lots. Even when you want to go to 3 stores in the same “shopping center” there’s almost no way to walk from the Wegman’s to Best Buy to Home Depot without traveling huge distances across dangerous and ugly parking lots. So you get in your car and drive from one store to the next.

It’s really bizarre.

As politicians talk about “Main Street,” I think they mean either some mythical Mayberry Main Street of the distant past (OK, they still exist in college towns and a few other places but they’ve been on the decline even there) or just short hand for “your local economy.”

But I think they need better shorthand. Because when I think of “Main Street” I think of a place that doesn’t even exist anymore.

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