Hollywood set designer Harper Goff was responsible for designing several street fronts for Main Street, U.S.A. He designed Main Street after Marceline, Walt Disney’s hometown. Most people that walk through Main Street never stop to wonder the history behind it or why things are in certain places, however it is meant to coincide with Walt Disney’s youthful neighborhood. “In Walt’s youth, the brick Zurcher building at 123 Main St. held a jewelry shop and had a Coca-Cola logo on its side.
(In Disneyland, the Coca-Cola Refreshment Corner occupies a similar brick building).” The similarities between Marceline’s architecture and Main Street are hidden but there. Main Street is meant to exude a welcoming feeling, as it is the entrance to the park.
Main Street’s buildings utilize forced perspective, which makes the buildings look taller than they actually are. “…the tops of the buildings are all built to a smaller scale than the bottom portions. It gives the illusion that everything is taller than it actually is.
” The features of the buildings appear to be bigger than they are, in order to mimic a real-life town more efficiently, using less space. If a park-goer was to look more closely at the buildings, they’d see that the features of the buildings get smaller as they go up. The bricks will shrink in size to make the building look bigger than it actually is. Disney wanted Main Street to be designed this way to make it reminiscent of older architecture.
Disney wanted Main Street to evoke nostalgia of a simpler time, where technology didn’t rule the world and people still rode on horse and carriage. “Not made for speed, these old-style vehicles give a whole new meaning to slowing down, taking the scenic route and enjoying the ride.” The horse drawn carriages symbolize an earlier time where things weren’t so fast paced, whereas nowadays cars are just a utility to get from point A to point B. The idea behind the carriages was to have people slow down and stop for a minute, taking in the beautiful scenery around them and enjoy what the park has to offer. In our modern times, the concept of “just going for a ride” is unheard of, with our rapid natures and busy lifestyles. Disney wanted people to go back in time and experience how life used to be, much slower with leisure.
This beloved part of Disneyland is meant to bring us guests back to a time somewhere in the early twentieth century, between 1900 and 1911. Seeing a horse and carriage around this time would be something of normalcy, hence why Walt decided to style Main Street this way. He wanted to take people back in time and show them a world that once existed. “This old timey theme is also why you hear the musical stylings of the Dapper Dans, as well as rag-time piano music up and down the street.” The Dapper Dans are Main Street’s barbershop quartet that have been performing since 1959. Their happy, upbeat songs add to the old-timey aesthetic of Main Street, and win the hearts of park-goers that pass by. The Dapper Dans is an aspect of the past that Walt Disney attempts to revitalize through Main Street. Walt Disney intended for Disneyland to be a place where people can go back to the past, and it is shown through the architecture and style of Main Street and the other lands.
Main Street has many different aspects that contribute to the Disneyland aura of happiness and fantasy. “For decades, Main Street stood for the local; today it’s an importable model of planning and development that can be set up almost anywhere.” Main Street is a model for other architectural developments in the U.S. now, and some architects look to Main Street’s aesthetics and planning as a basis for their projects. “It’s hard to overstate how radical a constructed cityscape Main Street, USA, was when it opened in Anaheim in 1955. Across the U.S., cities and towns were tearing out their historic downtowns in favor of automobile-oriented cityscapes: sprawling parking lots, streets built to highway specifications, large insular buildings that spurned the city outside.” Main Street is the threshold between a world of fantasy and reality, and showcases this through its architecture.