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Modern Renaissance: Revitalized Downtowns in Miniature

June 2, 2008

Personally, I have not seen a convincing modern downtown in any scale. Yes, Pelle Soderberg created a masterpiece Mojave’s desolate desert franchise stripmall that is all too common on our modern world. Summit Scale Models has released structures from Pelle’s Layout, see them here: 


A small one-sided downtown like those found in numerous towns in the western United States are full of essential, but always forgotten detail. The high ratio of historic buildings to modern buildings is the key to having a true revitalized downtown.

1. Unique details such as this old Harriman coach which is used for seasonal town decoration storage, but could be used for a small town hall, or a visitor’s center or a  museum.

2. Potted plants, trash cans, old street lights, and low, decorative fences.

3. Event poles” that have seasonal banners proclaiming attractions are some ignored details.

4. Is it summer on your layout? How about some red, white and blue banners. The stores usually leave them up most of the summer, especially in the early summer in preporation for the 4th of july.

5. Trees, Trees, Trees! Foilage is VERY important to a beutiful downtown. Elm, Oak& Maple trees used to line most streets in anytown, USA.


This depot was restored in the Early 21st Century. Notice that the mainline is laid with concrete ties, and the standard wooden ties for the siding.  The groomed ballast profile near the station looks really pleasantand attractive. Note the non-operational train order signal was restored after the station was complete.

This trellace and covered station platform is on the other side of the tracks. Wisteria is growing up and over the trellace with assorted plants lining the sidewalks, an often ignored detail.

The numbered details are as follows:

1. Flagpole and memorial to the VFW’s.

2.Park benches, trashcans, cigarette ashcans, light poles, and raised planter boxes are all necessary details.

3. The RAISED platorm and attractive fencing seperate the platform from the tracks.

4. The road plyons preventing traffic from driving on the wide paved areas is almost never modeled.

 Here’s a plan for a 2X4 module incorporating an old downtown, represented in building flats, an old depot with covered platform, and park with playground.

Looking past the traditional slide and swings, how about a more natural looking playground? (Photo from Wikipedia)

It would be easy to make in any scale, little hills with stripwood planters, ramps, and plenty of stones for kids to play on. Perhaps add a tiny stream and some weeping willows.

I hope this gives you some Ideas.  

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