square /skwe(É’)r/ noun
an open place or area formed at the meeting of two or more streets
The square, town square, market square, village green ”“ we all have them in one sense or another. We think of an open public space commonly found in the heart of a traditional town used for community gatherings.
They might not be literal squares, but we have spaces, open or built that serve as our town center. They might not even be in the geographic center of town, but they all have the potential to bring people together, no matter the reason, with a sense of community.
Some towns have planned village greens that have been preserved as parks, while other towns may have intersections of streets meeting the center of commerce, market squares today where actual market houses once stood. And then there are the town squares that act as memorials to our fallen soldiers or our forefathers. All of these spaces with a purpose, a reason for existing.
Growing up in Manheim, I’ve always had a certain fondness for our town square. It was the location for many of our community events as well as the focal point for many of the anchor businesses in town: the general store, the barber, the pizza shop, the clothing store, a selection or banks, and even the funeral home. Now, many years later and even after a fire destroyed a collection of buildings, Market Square stands as a proud example of a quintessential town square.
Now, living in Marietta, I look out my front window every day to my new town square, a lovely parklet in the middle of the town’s traffic circle. It’s the center of town, a stop during the Memorial Day parade and the holiday candlelight tour. It’s a focal point when giving directions to visitors and a place to chat with neighbors during the morning dog walk.
Think of your town square. Is it another proud example of a small town square? Is it serving to its fullest potential? Does it need a little sprucing up or perhaps a complete makeover? Or, if you don’t have a square, could you create one? Perhaps on the corner of a vacant lot, in an underutilized parking lot, or in an alley ”“ the possibilities are endless.