Main Street and the aluminum facade
James, Elizabeth Ann
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The mid-twentieth century was a period of transition in the United States. Technological advances in all fields of study changed the way Americans lived. The invention of the automobile allowed increased mobility for all citizens and altered traditional patterns of life within historic town centers. Downtown businesses were most impacted as retail activity shifted from Main Street to shopping centers on the outskirts of town. Property owners across the country took on modernization projects meant to update the appearance of their buildings to compete with shopping centers. Aluminum façades became the new face of downtown buildings. Aluminum provided a modern aesthetic competitive with shopping centers. While these façades are reaching fifty years in age, preservation organizations generally advocate their removal in favor of exposing the original building front. In some cases these façades possess their own aesthetic and historic integrity, and therefore worthy of recognition in the preservation field.