Conceptualizing small towns as urban places: The process of downtown redevelopment in Galena, Illinois

Thomas W. Paradis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This research investigates the process through which small-town central business districts (CBDs) are transformed into visitor-oriented attractions. A case study of Galena, Illinois, reveals that the dominant characteristics of the downtown redevelopment process are applicable to metropolis and small town alike. Similar economic “tools,” enabling legislation, and other mechanisms are available to essentially all municipalities regardless of size. Further, growth coalitions and interest groups are formed to promote the particular use and exchange values of CBDs throughout the urban hierarchy. What differs between small town and large metropolis, however, is the way in which contemporary CBDs are perceived by the community. While the metropolitan downtown is now largely viewed as a “command center” within a global economy, the small-town CBD is still varyingly perceived as the community's economic and social center. Such contrasting conceptions of downtown hold implications for the ability to successfully transform Main Street into a tourist attraction without generating substantial inter-community conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-82
Number of pages22
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


  • Downtown redevelopment
  • Historic district
  • Main street
  • Small town
  • Tourism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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