By Kate Herzog, Downtown Business Association of Bismarck
Americans love a comeback. And the history of our nation’s Downtowns is a “Comeback Story”. A new generation has made urban cores a part of their identity.
We open on the First Act: For decades, centuries even, cities were built for public gatherings, organized for local commerce; they were walkable, interactive and energetic, and above all built to reflect what the community valued most.
Often times, what towns both large and small valued most was their history and culture; and it was obvious in their building quality and styles, uses of their storefronts, events held in their town square, and brands or trades their community took pride in. American Downtowns remained vibrant until the middle of the 20th Century.
The Second Act of American Downtowns became a devastating chapter; hollowing out the things we had once held dear. Many things lead to the decentralization of cities: cars, suburbs, malls, and uniformity of commerce. Effects from loss of vibrancy in our cities contributed to changes in our local economy, our local pride, and our local community interactions.