Bluefield's compact downtown is hemmed in by railroad tracks and yards to the north and hills in every other direction. It appears larger than the population ever warranted, testament to the city's former role as a regional commercial, distribution, and government center. In the 1960s, efforts to stem decline resulted in an urban renewal project that decimated Princeton Avenue, once the main shopping street and known throughout the region as “the Avenue.” With the opening in 1980 of Mercer Mall, downtown Bluefield declined even further. In 1986 the commercial district was entered into the National Register of Historic Places, and Bluefield is now a Main Street Community as well.
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