No. 47 . 25 April 2001 
ArchitectureWeek
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Great American Main Streets

by ArchitectureWeek

Across the United States, small towns and cities have been hit hard by the combined effects of a poor farming economy, population flight, floods, regional shopping malls and highway bypasses that draw customers away from traditional downtowns, and the general neglect of historic architecture.

But for over 20 years, many of these towns and cities have been getting moral support and other assistance from the National Main Street Center, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. And for the past seven years, this program has given awards each year to five towns that have made a particularly inspiring comeback.

Winners of Great American Main Street Awards are towns that have successfully applied historic preservation and restructured their economies to restore and revitalize their traditional downtown commercial districts.

National Trust President Richard Moe presented this year's awards at the Main Street Center annual conference. "In an unpredictable economy," Moe said, "Main Street is the place to invest. These five communities prove that no matter how dire the situation, a town can thrive as long as its residents and businesses fight to save its heritage."

In the 1,500 communities the National Main Street Center has worked with, approximately $12.8 billion has been reinvested in neighborhood commercial districts, creating 193,000 new jobs and 51,000 net new businesses, spurring more than 62,000 building rehabilitation projects, and generating over $38 in new investment for every dollar spent on revitalization.

The five award-winning towns were selected by a panel of experts in the fields of community revitalization, economic development, and historic preservation.

Danville, Kentucky

One of the winners, Danville, Kentucky, is known as the "City of Firsts." It was home to the first college and post office west of the Alleghenies, Kentucky's first state capital, and the nation's first state-supported school for the deaf.  

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