Main Streets 2016: Arizona
In the early days of auto travel, historic highways 60, 70, 80 and 89 all converged on Mesa’s Main Street. Today, the street today is the focal point of an exciting transformation, as the community comes together to create the vibrant interconnections of the Downtown Mesa and Central Main Area.
The recently completed light-rail service along Main Street is a key piece of Downtown Mesa’s renewal, bringing passengers to a diversity of shops, restaurants, museums, cultural attractions and community events. In the Mesa Arts Center on Main Street, you can catch a Broadway musical or a music concert, attend a cultural event or take a class. You can also tour five art galleries that are part of the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, located within the Arts Center. Next door, the Mesa Historical Museum — whose building and auditorium are listed on the National Register of Historic Places — illuminates the city’s role in creating baseball’s spring-training Cactus League. As part of the League, the Oakland A’s play at Mesa’s HoHoKam Park and the Chicago Cubs play at Sloan Park.
The Central Main Area is Mesa’s center for government, culture and business, with murals, art installations, refurbished colonnades and landscaping, and a new pedestrian plaza. Just off of East Main Street on South Lesueur is the Mesa Arizona Temple, famous for its unique architecture, beautiful gardens and stunning holiday light display. The temple is host to the Mesa Easter Pageant, which attracts some 150,000 people and is the largest annual outdoor Easter pageant in the world.
The growing number of community events on Main Street also includes Motorcycles on Main, Trick or Treat Main Street, Merry Main Street, Pop-Up Tattoo Parlor Night and the Dia de los Muertos Festival. On Second Friday Night Out, one can stroll the dog-friendly streets of Downtown Mesa and stumble upon live bands, art booths, kids activities, movies and great food, with merchants and galleries staying open late.
Money.com recently named Mesa the Best Big City in the Southwest on its list of 2015 Best Places to Live. Mesa has also been listed among the best places for outdoor lovers based on access to green spaces, the percentage of the population that is at least moderately physically active and proximity to camping, ski resorts and golf courses.
Photo courtesy of Downtown Mesa Association