Main Street: How a City’s Heart Connects Us All

In cities around the world, the once bustling heart of civic, commercial and community activity—Main Streets—have been devastated by compounding crises of racial injustice, economic inequality, climate change, and public health disparities.

A pattern of disinvestment in inner-city neighborhoods has left Main Streets across the U.S. in disrepair, weakening our cities and leaving us vulnerable to catastrophe. The pandemic has made this painfully clear.

In her book, Main Street: How a City’s Heart Connects Us All, social psychiatrist Mindy Fullilove, MD delves deeper into urban renewal programs, based on her 11-year study of Main Streets in 178 cities and 14 countries around the world. Her harsh lens of forced displacements that had devastating effects on inner-city communities illuminates the strength of segregated communities, who managed to build political power and wealth in the face of destructive racist Jim Crow era systems.

In this conversation with Saundra Thomas, Mindy Fullilove expertly deconstructed our city planning structures through history, giving us context and a better understanding of the moment.

“The doctor is in . . . examining community life. With the eye of a natural scientist, with the warm wit of a country practitioner on house calls, psychiatrist Mindy Fullilove prescribes the renaissance of Main Streets for the ills of industrial decline. You will not see your neighborhood, nor your neighbors, the same way after reading this book.”
— Helena Hansen, Associate Professor, NYU Anthropology and Psychiatry Departments

Author bio
Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD, is an American social psychiatrist who focuses on the ways environmental factors affect the mental health of communities. She is Professor of Urban Policy and Health, Urban Policy Analysis & Management Program, Milano School for International Affairs, Management & Urban Policy, The New School. She has numerous published articles and six books, including URBAN ALCHEMY: Restoring Joy in America’s Sorted-Out Cities and ROOT SHOCK: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America and What We Can Do About It.

Earlier this year, Dr. Fullilove participated in our Conversations on the City series. View her talk on equity here.


OHNY Stacks is a series of book talks exploring the unknown, the unseen, and the unnoticed. These conversations shine a light on the impact of some of the historical staples of American life and how they have shaped our cities and continue to affect inhabitants.