Why is Onawa’s main street so wide?

Onawa, Iowa has a really serious wide main street – but why?

Answer: I did some digging and it seems that there isn’t one clear answer. Here are a few possibilities:

  1. The town originally thought the railroad would be coming through town and they planned to streets accordingly – but then the railroad never came.
  2. They want to make sure that fire would not easily jump across the street to other buildings/store fronts?
Is it the widest main street in the United States?

At 150 feet from storefront to store front, it is certainly the widest main street among all towns in Iowa. I’ve certainly heard that Onawa has made the claim as the widest in the US, but I’m not sure that it’s true.

A quick online search shows that Keene, New Hampshire is 156 feet and Plains, Kansas is 155 feet. However, some of the Onawa locals believe that the others don’t qualify because of how they are designed.

Either way, that’s one extremely wide Main Street in Onawa. Here’s the exact google map location, in case you’d like to bring your own measuring tape and check it out for yourself.

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  1. I grew up in the town of Castana, about 14 miles from Onawa. There used to be a pharmacy there with a soda fountain that served the world’s best ice cream!

  2. Only the inner 2 lanes is Main St. The 2 outermost lanes are considered access lanes so vehicles wouldn’t crowd Main St. Seems to me that Onawa is lookin’ for publicity. dumb dumbs