Sep 21 2014
The first two chapters of Downtown America surprised me with how literally they were about Downtown America. I was expecting something more economic based, with information on how small downtown shops competed with big box stores, since that’s what we’ve covered in our course so far. However, I liked how the book mentioned women’s appreciation of how men build sidewalks, sewers and streetlights, but in Isenberg’s words, “showed them how to do better.”
It wasn’t enough to have basic infrastructure of a downtown, it had to actually be aesthetically pleasing. And since politically motivated women couldn’t be involved in “real” politics, they created groups that function like today’s Parks and Recreation Department. Their focus on beautifying streets with plants and paint and simply keeping the sidewalks clean did wonders for the economy, as picturesque streets were put on postcards. And despite corporations occasionally fighting, all of “the little things” got done, creating a legacy for all American cities.
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