Downtowns and main streets were the backbones of American cities. We are finding downtowns abandoned and demolished, a vacate wasteland. Up to the 1960s main street was the center where everyone shopped. The courthouse, railroad station, hotels, all connected to business. In the 1960s suburbs started to develop, shopping centers dominating the downtown retail. By 1990, the growth of 30,000 malls declined downtowns across America.
In the 21st Century we are seeing downtowns undergoing transformation. New construction and renovating historic buildings is the new trend. Historic buildings are being converted into retail, commercial businesses, and residential living. Trying to bring back the traditional business district. City planners change the two-way streets to one-way streets. Adding median strips with trees and landscape. Making it pedestrian friendly. Main streets are still empty because of suburban sprawl.
Driving the back roads, we see the “mom and pop” old motels. Worn signs, some with neon, enticing the traveler to stay a night. We see motor courts, cabins, cottages, or inns. The signs offering color television, phone in room, modern air-conditioning, and electric heat. For long-term stays they advertised kitchenettes. They are usually the “L”, “T”, or “U” shaped design. The family run businesses, with relaxing landscaped grounds are disappearing. Some of the motels are turning into low housing income or being demolished to make way for development. In the early sixties motels started declining due to the interstates highways. The bypasses took our roadside memories away.
Do you remember the sound of the gravel driveway as you drove in, the lumpy mattress, and the paper bathroom mat? What fun to take a souvenir of a towel or an ashtray with the motel’s name printed on it as taking home the room stationery and the hand painted postcard.
Little River Motel February 23, 1988
Holiday Motel November 27, 1987