La Crosse is made up of a variety of cultures and neighborhoods, all blending together to create a rich and layered community. Recent revitalization efforts have been taking hold in the area, bringing these neighborhoods even closer together. La Crosse began as a fur trading post, a port for steamboats cruising the mighty Mississippi. It gradually became a commercial center, thanks to the rise of the lumber, railroad and brewing industries. But as the river became less viable as a means of goods transportation, the economy dipped. However, the city has experienced new life in the past two decades, thanks to the1990 establishment of Downtown Mainstreet Inc. This non-profit organization has encouraged the creation of the city’s first comprehensive master plan for downtown, the City Vision 2000 Master Plan. A major goal of the plan is to reestablish an emphasis on the Mississippi River and the role of the riverfront in the community, which is already well on its way. In recent years, nearly 200 new residences have been added to downtown, causing building and property values to rise to $40 million. Streetscaping and façade restorations can be seen all over town, as well as the renovations of some of the most impressive buildings in town, encompassing Italianate, art deco and modern styles. Thanks to this renaissance, La Crosse’s downtown is now a vital part of the community. People living in the area can walk to boutiques, stores, restaurants and bars, all without the worry of getting in the car. The city has two neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places: downtown and the area around Cass and King streets. The latter features homes dating back to the last quarter of the 19th century, with classical revival and Queen Anne architecture. Other districts in La Crosse include Medary, Shelby and French Island on the Mississippi River.