Downtown Granite City
The downtown was built around industry at the turn of the 20th century. Immigrants packed into boarding houses and apartments as they came to the city to work in the many factories. During the heyday of Granite City, there were as many as 200 people with registered addresses on one particular block of state street.
Jump forward to today and State street is pretty quiet. Granite City's center grew eastward into neighborhoods built for factory workers. Eventually business moved east, and like many other cities began to orient itself around commercial strips. The downtown's role diminished in the life of the city and today would be unrecognizable to a resident from 1950.
There are people in Granite City who say that they never go downtown. Until recently there were very few amenities. In addition, the downtown is surrounded on three sides by heavy industry and post industrial properties. Some of the properties are brownfields and others are active industrial sites. Not exactly an inviting place. Yet, Heavy industry and manufacturing have been the core of Granite City's identity for the last century. But, as conventional industries like steel continue to face uncertainty so too does the city.
To be sure, there is activity in downtown Granite City. There is a coffee shop, several restaurants, boutiques, recent streetscape improvements, public art, and a community owned Movie Theater. Above all, Granite City has dedicated people working to continue downtown viability, including city officials, institutions, and private parties. All that being said, there is no denying that the downtown is struggling. As traditional industries decline, Perhaps there is an opportunity to re-imagine downtown Granite as a center for green industry. What would that look like?