Q&A: Alison Isenberg on Downtown America

As part of our commitment to exploration of the scholarly history of the American roadside as it relates to issues of race, class and gender, we proudly present this Q&A with Alison Isenberg, author of Downtown America.

From the Q&A: Downtown America was once the vibrant urban center romanticized in the Petula Clark song — a place where the lights were brighter, where people went to spend their money and forget their worries. But in the second half of the twentieth century, “downtown” became a shadow of its former self, succumbing to economic competition and commercial decline. And the death of Main Streets across the country came to be seen as sadly inexorable, like the passing of an aged loved one.