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Corning, NY
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Corning's nationally acclaimed Market Street Restoration Program was a pioneering 1970s effort to revitalize Market Street and downtown Corning, a model that inspired locally-organized rebirth of Main Streets in countless downtowns large and small across the country.

A devastating 1972 flood left much of the historic downtown in ruins. Many nearby communities affected by the same floods simply neglected their damaged waterfront regions, letting them fall even further into decay. Corning's leaders could have decided to level everything and rebuild in urban renewal fashion. Instead, the town invested its federal disaster relief funds into new brick sidewalks and honey-locust trees for four retail blocks of historic Market Street, the town’s commercial spine.

At the same time, the enlightened leadership of the town’s major employer, Corning Glass Works, recognized that the revitalization of Market Street was as much in the company’s interest as the town’s. With Corning’s funds, the Market Street Restoration Agency was founded with Norman Mintz, a young preservation planner and designer, as its first director. With great skill, Mintz combined a large dose of diplomacy with an equally impressive design talent to set about providing free design services to Market Street merchants and owners.

Mintz encouraged the restoration of all the town's architectural treasures, and building by building, owner by owner, the storefronts were restored, the merchant offerings upgraded, the vacant buildings rented until the rebirth process was solidly underway.

Using small scale, innovative approaches that encourage new local businesses, this effort paved the way for Market Street to become the thriving regional hub of shopping, dining and entertainment it remains today.

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