Aspects of Main Street
I just recently moved and the new part of the city I'm in has a "Main Street" both literally and figuratively. I've been walking around there quite a bit trying to get a sense of the place and I've picked up on a couple things regarding communities.
There is a tangible sense of history. For example, I walked past one building that was built in 1822, obviously the business there now is different, however the historical aspect gave the area a sense of permanence and survival. On the other hand, some shopfronts were straight up abandoned, and while these were certainly eye sores, the contrast gave the more lively areas that much more vibrance.
The turnover rate for business in the area seems rapid. For every one or two stores closing, there was at least one openning or renovating. The churn of local stores is in some ways its own character. What I mean is, main street's role in the community is a place for new ideas to bubble and sometimes pop. Some places have been there a while, but the flow of new ideas keeps things from stagnating, even if the cost is a tiny bit of stability. In some cases, these little sub-spaces even become communities in their own right, so don't discount them for their temporary nature.
Possibly the most important observation now that I think of it. The eyes of a newcomer are very different from those of a regular. I felt like I was constantly looking up - from the storefront, to what lies ahead, to what was far away. I instinctually wanted to understand the boundries of the space, it's pace and it's tone. Where are the borders and boundries? What are the people doing here on a regular old Monday evening?
Anyway, it was really nice to walk around Main Street, raised my framiliarity with the area and how it flows. Hopefully these observations come in handy when designing places of your own be they digital or physical.