Huntington has not made the list of Best 50 College Towns – yet.
The groups that put these lists together look at a variety of factors from livability to cultural offerings to simple “presence” of the school in the community. But when you look at the communities on the top of the list, you understand that the physical interconnection between the college and the town is a big part of the magic.
University life is woven into the fabric of all those communities, and each has its well-known streets and neighborhoods, where town and gown come together. We think that is happening in Huntington, too.
Since 2008, the Old Main Corridor project has been gradually building a stronger link between the Marshall University campus and downtown Huntington. And as the project nears the end of the construction phase, we can see that the connectivity is just beginning.
Most of the work has been streetscape infrastructure – rebuilding sidewalks and curbs, plus adding street lighting, trees and bicycle lanes. But block by block, it is making a difference. The changes have attracted new businesses, re-energized older businesses and increased pedestrian traffic along the stretch of 4th Avenue from Hal Greer Boulevard into the heart of downtown.
“Every time I go down where the work has been completed, I see more activity and more people,” said Charles Holley, director of the city Department of Development and Planning. “That was the plan behind the project, and that is what’s happening.”