Walla Walla, Washington: Best main street

A community comes together downtown

Downtown Walla Walla

Once neglected, Walla Walla's historic downtown now thrives.

Shane Young

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Coming together downtown

Each Friday morning around 7, Jerry "Spud" Cundiff, a trim, white-haired gentleman who has spent his life in the family jewelry business, opens the sidewalk clock outside his store and cranks up its gearworks for another week of timekeeping - as someone has been doing here on Main Street in Walla Walla, Washington, since 1906.

The clock is an antique, but it isn't a relic reminding people that this used to be a bustling little metropolis, the place Theodore Roosevelt praised as making "the pleasantest impression upon my mind of any city I visited while in the Northwest." The clock has work to do, like the rest of downtown Walla Walla--which is thriving, thanks to a 10-year revitalization program.

Walla Walla, population 29,333, is set among the farms of southeastern Washington. In the 1970s, its downtown began a downward slide. Three of the four department stores fled, and a major landmark - the Marcus Whitman, a 12-story luxury hotel built in 1927 - went condo.

 

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