Historic Business District Byways

After really looking closer at other area towns and cities, I have found that there is something really different about Mason City’s Historic Business District versus other historic communities’ districts.

The real key difference is that Federal Ave. is not a busy street and is not real wide as I have found in other cities. Pedestrians don’t like crossing wide thoroughfares due to distance and traffic. The more people can casually walk without watching for flying by traffic, the more they feel comfortable stroll- shopping. I used to travel a great deal when I was younger and whenever I would book a hotel room in a city I planned on visiting, I would always try to find a hotel as close as possible to the center of the city. One city in particular that I visited, I found myself spending nearly all the days just walking around and investigating all the charming shops, restaurants, churches and buildings. My initial plan was to spend more time in the countryside but the uniquely charming features of the city kept me captivated.

What I envision for the Downtown of Mason City, is a re-birth of real commerce where the pedestrian traffic is heavy. I want to look for the smiles on the faces of people interacting while leisurely strolling from shop to shop. So many times before and during the Streetscape Project in Downtown Mason City, I heard from so many nay-sayers chirping that all of it would be in vain and it would be just another burden on the community as a whole. I can’t remember how many times I responded with uplifting notes. Being as ancient as I am, I remember so very well how thriving our downtown was in years past. Even at that time, I really enjoyed window shopping. Whomever platted the original streets were forward thinkers because our streets in the downtown are pedestrian friendly as well as our meticulously cared-for Central Park. I walked through it the other day and wished I could stay. We all should be thankful that we don’t have highways downtown, but rather byways.

Joe Chodur

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