Monadnock Moments No. 62: The Widest Paved Main Street in the World
Most of us have seen postcards of Keene’s Main Street overprinted with the words “the widest paved Main Street in the World.” The development of this unique street can be traced to a single day in the autumn of 1736, just two years after the first settlers arrived in the town.
A meeting of the proprietors of the township was held on the first of October, 1736 at the log home of Nathan Blake on the corner of what later became Winchester and Main Streets. The settlers voted at that meeting to double the width of the town’s Main Street from four rods to eight rods because “the Town Street is judged to narrow conveniently to accommodate the Proprietors.” The land owners surrendered four rods of their property on the street and were given four rods on the rear of their lots as repayment.
The street was widened from 66 to 132 feet, thus establishing the character of the village which local residents have enjoyed ever since. The settlers did not record why a 66 foot wide street was not “conveniently” wide enough in a thick forest with only a few footpaths and one or two permanent homes. Whatever their motives might have been, however, we owe a debt of gratitude to these early settlers for their foresight in laying out this attractive Main Street which we still enjoy today.