Monday, May 4, 2009

My Main Street

When I moved to Columbia in the summer of ’89 one of the things I really liked

about the city was Main Street. On the street I could find a movie theater with a big screen where I’d get to see “Henry V” and the director's cut of “Blade Runner.” Macy's and Belks department stores. A newsstand filled with newspapers from around the country. A diner. A Korean restaurant. A wonderfully dark and cramped record store (Manifest.) An operating Kress store. A local department store in a very cool building (Tapp’s.)

By middle 1980s, most Main streets had already died. Columbia was an exception. Then in what seemed like months, Columbia’s Main Street began collapsing as well. Part of this was a natural progression; part was driven by development of the Congaree Vista.

Because it died so late, our Main Street has been slow coming back to life. I thought the move of the Columbia Museum of Art to Main Street a decade ago would resurrect the street, but it hasn’t been a miracle worker. Even so, while some of the street between Gervis and Elmwood has gotten worse, others parts have improved. Two nice new towers, a hotel in the beautiful Palmetto


Still I’ve never stopped loving the street.

Years ago I noticed that the front of a beauty supply shop appeared to have a

ticket window. I crossed the street and looked at the entire building which was topped with comedy and tragedy masks. Obviously, a movie house.

It will soon be the new home of the Nickelodeon movie theater. While the ‘50s and ‘60s facades stuck over the original upper floors of some buildings hide one history, they are now historical and I pray that the gold mesh on King’s Jewelry will remain forever. The Kress store with its ceramic covered face is a real gem and we’re fortunate both the inside and outside have been well maintained and restored.

Monday I walked down Main Street in the rain, a melancholy journey that made me feel mellow.

It may not be raining Thursday night, but you can check out the street during the Urban Tour from 5 to 8:30. There will be food, drinks and music. You can also pay what you wish to visit the “Turner to Cezanne” exhibition at the Columbia Museum and join the artists of the group About Face at the museum where they’ll be showing and selling. Everything wraps up at the future home of the Nickelodeon.


  1. Alternacirque will be there. We're setting the mortgage for the Nick on fire, and then we're performing "Steampunk" in the street. Pray for no rain.

  2. This is lovely, Jeffrey. Somebody has a soft spot.

  3. Wonderful that the old Fox will live on -like the Tapps, Kress, and Palmetto buildings.

    Nostalgic over the Capital Cafe and the Newsstand. Did you ever have the vegetable soup with cornsticks at Tapps? Sublime.

  4. Hi!
    Nice recent posts!

  5. Steampunk? Join the S.C. Steampunk group at:


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