As Main Street enjoys a renaissance — gelato shops! Sundance! something to replace Banana Republic and Bobby Q’s! — it’s worth looking back at what our main downtown drag used to look like.
No, not half a century ago, with stores like Selective Eye, the African Room and Mark’s Place. I’m talking the turn of the century. Last century.
This 1901 Sanborn map was posted to social media by William Weiss. It describes what types of stores were where, as the 20th century began.
On the west side of Main Street — where the Saugatuck River lapped up against the backs of shops — there were a couple of laundries, several “meat” places, a paint shop, drug store, bakery, cobbler, flour and feed story, lumber store, and an enormous coal yard.
The east side of Main Street included a barber, tailor, and more butchers and grocery stores.
And that’s just in the block between the Post Road (State Street) and Elm Street. (Just like today though, a few storefronts sat vacant.)
The Riverside Inn was aptly named. It sat right on the river, about where Starbucks is now.
Across Main Street was the Westport Hotel (misspelled on the map). Two decades later that became the YMCA; today it’s Anthropologie.
The primary occupant of Church Lane was a horse shed. That later became a fire station. Now it’s Bedford Square.
Anyone predictions of what a Sanborn map of downtown Westport in, say, 2101 would look like?