It seems like every single town I visit has an “historic downtown”. Let me put it this way. There are an estimated 25,000 cities and towns in the USA. If you google “historic downtown” there are 25.2 million results. That’s 1000 pages of historic downtown-ness for every burg, big or small, in the whole country.
Don’t get me wrong. I love historical stuff. If it’s really old, I want to see it. If there’s a cool story attached to it, all the better.
According to dictionary.com, the word “historic” means “well known or important in history”. Are we to believe that “Historic Downtown Millersburg” actually has some important place in American history? According to the history page of Downtown Millersburg, absolutely nothing of consequence ever happened there. They built some buildings. And they’re just minutes away from Berlin, Ohio. Calm down, I can hear you panting and getting excited from here.
I used to see a lot more “old downtown” signs. But I think they’re all trying to get away from the world “old” because it maybe has a bad connotation? Could we be suing cities all over the country for ageism? That ought to garner some press.
“Old Downtown” is so much more truthful though. “Look we never really did anything cool here, but there some old buildings to look at. We’ve redone them all and they house nothing but thrift stores masquerading as antique shops. And it doesn’t really look that old anymore. But hey, give ‘er a look.” I guess I’m missing the Chamber of Commerce sense of spin.
My favorite example… And I’m seriously kicking myself for not having a picture of it… is the sign I saw years ago in Windsor, CA that said, “Come visit our brand new Old Downtown!” Apparently Microsoft Word doesn’t have a stupdity-checker alongside the spell-checker.
Time to visit Old Downtown Phil’s Kitchen and make some lunch.