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When politicians and the media mention Main Street, they evoke one people and one place. But there are over 10,466 streets named Main in the United States.
Once you start looking, you'll notice Main Streets are everywhere and tell all kinds of stories. There's a Main Street in San Luis, Arizona that dead-ends right into the Mexican border. The Main Street in Melvindale, Michigan runs through a trailer park in the shadows of Ford's River Rouge plant, once the largest factory in the world. Main Street is small town and urban center; it is the thriving business district and the prostitution stroll; it is the places where we live, the places where we work, and sometimes, it is the places we have abandoned.

A Collaborative Documentary Project

flickrpeeps Contributors from Flickr Mapping Main Street is a collaborative documentary media project that creates a new map of the country through stories, photos and videos recorded on actual Main Streets. The goal is to document all of the more than 10,000 streets named Main in the United States. We invite you to capture the stories and images of the country today. Go out, look around, talk to people, and contribute to this re-mapping of the United States.

We've already got a head start. In May, the Mapping Main Street team packed into a 1996 Suburu station wagon and started a 12,000 mile journey across the country to visit Main Streets. In the process, we took photos, shot videos, and interviewed people. On Main Street in a small town in West Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, we met a retired man who is fixing up a boarded-up house that was once a hotel for jazz musicians like Ella Fitzgerald and B.B. King during segregation. In New Hope, PA, we sat down for beers with a cop on Main Street who talked about strangest fetishes he had come across in his line of work. We've talked with farm laborers and business owners, people out on their porches and people on park benches. We've even stood in empty fields...all on Main Streets across the country.

We commissioned bands to write songs for the project. High Places, the Hive Dwellers, Jason Cady and Ian Svenonius collected field recordings on Main Streets and wrote a songs inspired by those recordings. We've also started fabricating a Mapping Main Street scuplture that will serve as a mobile art installation and recording unit, enabling people to share stories via cell phones.

Mapping Main Street is produced through the generous funding of Maker's Quest 2.0, an initiative between the Association of Independents in Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The project is also supported with funds from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.


Kara Oehler   Kara Oehler - Creator
Kara Oehler is an independent audio producer who works with Ann Heppermann. Kara and Ann are transmission artists with Free103point9. In addition to her work with Heppermann, Kara co-created the Yellow Arrow project "Capitol of Punk", which was included in MOMA's 2008 exhibition "Design and the Elastic Mind."

Ann Heppermann   Ann Heppermann - Creator
Ann Heppermann is an independent audio producer and transmission artist who works with Kara Oehler. Their documentaries and sound art have aired around the world and received awards from Peabody, Murrow, Third Coast, PRNDI and others. She has lived in five different cities (Omaha, Phoenix, San Antonio, Flagstaff and New York City) 4 out of 5 of them have streets named Main.

Jesse Shapins   Jesse Shapins - Creator
Jesse Shapins is an urban media artist and theorist, whose work explores experiments in mapping the imagination and perception of place across different media. He is the co-creator of Yellow Arrow, UnionDocs and The Colors Berlin. His projects have been exhibited at MoMA, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Deutsches Architektur Zentrum in Berlin, among many venues. He is pursuing a PhD at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

James Burns   James Burns - Creator
James Burns is a PhD candidate in the Department of Economics at Harvard University, whose research ranges from market design and game theory to the economics of networks. James is also an avid photographer, mathematician, and coder. He designed the information architecture and programmed from scratch the core interactive data engine of the website.

Matthew Long-Middleton   Mattew Long-Middleton - Critical Writing Fellow
Matthew Long-Middleton is an independent radio producer and the Marketing Manager at Murray Street Productions. For his American Studies thesis at Kenyon College he produced a video documentary on a shopping center in Columbus, Ohio that mimics Main Street, but in reality is a new kind of mall. With his preoccupation on the conceptions and creation of American identity he was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Mapping Main Street.

Local Projects   Local Projects - Designers
The website was designed by the Mapping Main Street team and Local Projects, a media design firm for museums and public spaces. They create a diverse range of installations from large environmental interactives, websites, and mobile applications, to simple experiences composed of thumbtacks, vellum, or conversation.

Ian Gray   Ian Gray - Big Sky Producer
Ian was born and raised in Great Falls, MT. He has worked for NPR's This I Believe, as a producer for Living on Earth and aired pieces on Marketplace, Weekend America, and WBUR. Currently, he studies at MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, where he is researching global climate change adaptation and environmental governance in post-colonial states.

Sara Pellegrini   Sara Pellegrini - Video Producer
Sara Pellegrini is a video and audio editor living in Brooklyn, NY. She loves documentary storytelling and has worked in film, televisionand radio. She is currently working as assistant editor on two documentary films one about a bluegrass band and another aboutdrinking water contamination. Her own short films have screened in New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

Josie Holtzman   Josie Holtzman - Production Assistant and Social Media Producer
Josie Holtzman is an independent audio producer based in New York City. She studied American Culture at Vassar but has much preferred learning about it first hand by visiting Main Streets across the country. After producing a nationally aired radio story about a cross-country art exhibit, she firmly believes that where there is a road trip, there is a great story.

Nom de Code   Andrew Sinning - Flash Developer
Andrew Sinning is an art-school trained software engineer based in Minneapolis. For the past 12 years, he's been creating educational interactive experiences for LearningWare, but also enjoys experimenting with media arts-based projects.

Special Thanks

This project would not be possible without the exceptional support and generosity of so many people and organizations. We would like to especially thank: Allison K Jones, Amar Ashar, Andrae McGary, Andrew Hayes, Angie Gonzalez, Ann Moss, Antoine Picon, Barbara Ann Henry, Barrett Golding, Becca Tabasky, Berly Zapata, Betty Jones, Bill Grouzies, Brian House, Brother Ron Fender, Calvin Johnson, Cameron Adams, Carrie Lewitz, Case Miller, Catherine Bracy, Christina Ramsmussan, Christopher Bavitz, Cindy Reedy, Dave Riek, David Ardia, Colin Maclay, Dennis Cady, Donna Heppermann, Debby Burgoyne, Desi Sharpe, Don Heppermann, Elizabeth Gonzalez, Ellen Riek, Emily Cox, Eric Oehler, Erika Kweon, Eve Troeh, Giuliana Bruno, Glenn Miller, Harold Landis, Helen Fu, Ian Curry, Ian Svenonius, Ingrid Lakey, Jake Barton, Jake Sanfino, Jake Shapiro, Jason Cady, Javier Pardo, Jay Jones, Jeannie Miller, Jerry Shapins, Jody Plaumann, Joe Mitchell, John J. Heyman, John Moss, Joyce Vaughn, Judith Donath, Kathy Oehler, Kenneth Mathis, Kimberley Isbell, Kyle Sweet, Laurel Simmons, Lee Deadrick, Leslie Graitcer, Lieutenant Wrigs, Lizabeth Cohen, Lou Gum, Lukas Biewald, Lyn Harris, Margaret Crawford, Mark Martin, Mary Pearson, Michael Hays, Mike Love, Mike Miller, Nancy Felker, Natalia Alvez, Nikki Silva, Nora Gray, Paul J. Gilligan, Peter Clowney, Randy Gray, Robert Barber, Serena Buontempo, Seth Pipkin, Shana Spencer, Sophy Burns, Spencer Gray, Sue Schardt, Svetlana Boym, Tammy Waddell, Ted Martin, Tiya Gordon, Valerie J. Kee, Whaitman Vaughn, Zuzka Fedorkova and everyone we've met along the way.
Mapping Main Street on Facebook