Boston Main Street Program

HCED has a long-standing partnership with the Boston Main Streets Program that has included:

  • Preparing a study on the program's impacts and success factor as part of the Solutions for America project
  • Completing revitalization plans for seven Boston Main Street districts through the Revitalizing Urban Main Streets class. Three of these plans have won either state or national APA student project awards: Hyde Park, Egleston Square and Hyde/Jackson Squares
  • Senior Lecturer Karl Seidman serves on the board of the Boston Main Streets Foundation and has conducted research and provided training for local Main Streets districts


The core of HCED's Boston Main Street partnership is 11.439 Revitalizing Urban Main Streets. This practicum course brings together faculty and students from the City Design and Development and Housing Community and Economic Development Program Group to prepare plans for neighborhood Main Street districts. The spring 2011 class is working on a plan for the East Boston Main Street district'a vibrant commercial center in one of Boston's oldest neighborhoods and a historic gateway for immigrants. This news article describes on a student March 2011 student presentations on their analysis of the districts: Boston Globe Article


Revitalizing Urban Main Streets focuses on the physical and economic renewal of urban neighborhood Main Streets by combining classroom work with an applied class project. The course content covers three broad areas:


  1. an overview of the causes for urban business district decline, the challenges faced in revitalization and the type of revitalization strategies employed;
  2. the physical and economic development planning tools used to understand and assess urban Main Streets from physical design and economic development perspectives; and
  3. the policies, interventions, and investments used to foster urban commercial revitalization.


Students work with a client neighborhood Main Street program to analyze its commercial district's physical and economic conditions, develop a framework for a revitalization plan and prepare the plan. An example of a final plan prepared by students in Revitalizing Urban Main Streets can be found here: Mission Hill Main Streets Plan