Building a Better Modesto

Modesto Art Museum

Funding Received: 2013
Modesto, CA
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 10, 2013

Update and Reflection

To build on the downtown/design district's annual celebration of American Graffiti, we hosted a car related exhibit, State Plates, at the Building Imagination Center during the month of June. To the delight of many visitors, the exhibit included more than a dozen small car models from the 1960s. This was the first of a series of events, talks, tours, and movies the museum will host in the design district. There have also been two guided tours of the district. The tours are two hours long and highlight the architecture of the area.

Many hours have been spent in the McHenry History Museum archives by volunteers looking for and scanning old photographs of the Modesto Design District. More than 100 photos have been found so far, most never before published. They will be used to create two walking tour guides of the district using Historypin. Users will be able to look back in time at the buildings that once graced the area and see both how much, and in some cases how little, the area has changed. The oldest photos are from the 1870s.

Though Building a Better Modesto has five different projects, they all build on one another and the entire program would be diminished by the absence of one of the parts. Though we theoretically knew this from the beginning, it's become more real to us as we move through time.

Recent Wins

The city of Modesto completed an awareness campaign, encouraging businesses to help keep downtown attractive by maintaining the sidewalks abutting their buildings. Also the city's Promotions Committee finalized the streetscape concept for 10th Street between J and I Streets. The drawings are being finalized and will be shown to the Downtown Steering Group before proceeding to the Modesto City Council for final approval. The enhancements are part of an overall plan for 10th Street which includes the re-opening of a one block segment between J and K streets closed in the 1990s in a failed attempt to create a pedestrian plaza. Nearly every business closed on the plaza and the area is now lined with empty storefronts. Reopening the street is part of a multi-faceted project to enliven the street.


The response from individuals and groups in the community to our efforts to build a better more vibrant downtown has been encouraging and inspiring. Many are generously giving their time and resources to the program. People have offered their services even without asking.