As long as there have been communities, people in them have gathered to buy, trade and sell their wares. What once was known as the marketplace, we call “downtown.” Due in large part to shopping malls, online retail and suburban living, downtowns aren’t as bustling as they used to be—but they still exist, even in the smallest of towns.

WAYNESBURG

Ask any local Italian-food aficionado where you can find some of the most authentic cuisine, and chances are, you’ll be pointed to Cibo’s Restaurant. Housed in the former Mohawk Theater [134 W. Lisbon St.], the family-owned Cibo’s is at the heart of downtown Waynesburg. It’s not just a restaurant, but rather a symbol of the deep roots established by Italian families who once lived and worked in the community. Just south of Cibo’s is the historic Waynesburg Carriage Co. [173 Mill St.], an auto dealership that has been in business since 1894—when the vehicles being sold were wagons. Downtown Waynesburg has the typical small-town features including a post office, two taverns, a karate studio, churches and a cemetery, just west.

EAST CANTON

The blue and white banners that decorate Nassau Street inform visitors that East Canton was around long before Ohio became a state.

The downtown district of East Canton, which was established in the 1700s, is about three blocks long. Its centerpiece is the historic Werner Inn. Built in 1834, it currently houses the Osnaburg Historical Society and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. East Canton’s downtown consists mostly of small businesses: two beauty parlors, a tavern, a pizza shop, an antiques/consignment store and a small-engine repair business. The village’s library and the Foltz Community Center are situated a block north.

Though East Canton’s downtown is small, the traffic is constant because of its location at the intersection of state routes 44 and 172, and just east of U.S. Route 30.

EAST SPARTA

It isn’t its downtown, but rather its iconic town “pump” that East Sparta is famous for. The one-time source of water for the little village has sat at the center of town for 200 years. Today, downtown East Sparta boasts a coffee shop, pizza shop, barbershop, post office and veterans’ memorial.

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Charita Goshay

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