Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What Main Street Maplewood Has (and 57th St Doesn't!)

Main Street Maplewood is an irregular 3 block stretch that lies in the embrace of the train station and its parking.  This tight, useful conjunction of city services and public transit is humming with people.  I visited in the middle of the day, when many of the visitors were pre-schoolers out for some urbanization.  In addition to good eats, there was a supermarket, movie theater, post office, and bank for taking care of business, a candy store for odds and ends, and some interesting spots for shopping.  One might say Maplewood designed its Main Street for its own convenience.  It is not on a major road, the way Main Street Bogota is.  Rather, the voyager has to follow the signs from Valley Road in order to get there.  Tucked away as it is, it is an insiders' locus of transactions.  It is a crossroads of a pleasant town, and it serves as a place of exchange.  This is highlighted by the many, many messages people have put up for each other.  I was struck by the town bulletin board, which was covered with colorful and informative leaflets.  But I also noticed lots of posters and leaflets in the windows of the stores.  The people of Maplewood are in conversation with each other, using the windows of Main Street as a tool of communication.  So what about 57th Street in Manhattan?  A wonderful street in its own right, but not one community bulletin board that I could spot...

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