A long time ago I found an ancient fax photo of the streets of a city, converted into a pedestrian mall. There weren’t any notes on the picture to tell me where this might be. It was only much, much later that I learned it was Danville, Illinois.

What happened to all this? What became of downtown Danville? I was eager to see if the ill-advised experiment had lasted, and what effect it might have had. I was not prepared for what I found. Looks like Urban Renewal hit, and hit hard.

We’ll start here, at the end of a formerly important commercial street.

Strange 70s renovation in the middle. See the ledge on the left?

Leftover from its demolished neighbor.

Across the street, a late Spaceship-Modern church. You know it’s a church. Even though it doesn’t look churchy, you know what it is.

Fabulous old commercial structure, now trashed and awaiting a kind renewal.

The lower-floor rehab of the building above was part of a late-60s / early 70s new construction. Not very attractive.

From 2007: a nice commercial structure with classical motifs.

Annnnd today.

Well, surely that's an anomaly . . .



A few teeth in an otherwise empty jaw:

This Is It Furniture! Maybe they mean that this is, in fact, the home of It Furniture.

Again, signs of prosperity - once upon a time. The entire stretch has the forlorn look NP Avenue used to have in Fargo; evidence everywhere of completely occupied blocks, the survivors marooned in emptiness.

No one home.

You wonder what it sold over the years, and who was the guy who was making enough to spiff it up with the name-display area over the windows. Whether he was the guy to turn out the lights for good. Hope not.

Oh good, an enclosed downtown shopping center on the left. Nothing like a big empty street-facing parking lot to give you that ol’ hustle & bustle.

Another corner you know was once much more.

Back in 2007 . . .

And then  . . .


At least the OUMB survived urban renewal - or possibly was intended as the Shining Example of the new downtown.

That’s if this was all part of a broad program, which I’m starting to doubt.

And just like that, we reach the main intersection, and see something old and nice.

Classical buildings in this shape aren’t rare, but they’re not exactly common. It’s always a nice look.

Down the block a bit, something new and dull.

But what’s that to the left? That’ll be next week’s installment, as we search for Old Danville.