Our Mission Statement: The Niles Main Street Association is a non-profit, community organization devoted to historic preservation and economic revitalization of the historic commercial and residential Niles district of Fremont, California.

The Niles Main Street Association depends almost entirely on volunteers for its operation and seeks members from all parts of the community.  We have a variety of volunteer opportunities.  Join the Niles Main Street Association by registering online or download our mail-in membership form.  We invite you to share your expertise and contribute toward making the historic Niles commercial district a the vital focus of our community.

The Niles Main Street Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.  We accept needed goods and services, as well as monetary donations.  For answers to any of your questions, please contact us at our Niles Main Street office at 510-742-9868 or email

A Brief History of Niles

Niles was established in the 1850s and was a junction point of the Southern Pacific Railroad lines from Oakland to San Jose and southern coastal points. Vallejo’s Mill was the first flourishing flour mill constructed and completed in this country.  It was run by water conducted in a long flume from Alameda Creek.  Niles at one time was noted for the location of the California Nursery, the largest nursery in California, with the largest rose plantation in the state.

In 1912, Essanay Studios was at the height of its movie making fame. The studio, owned by Gilbert M. “Broncho Billy” Anderson and his partner George Spoor, made famous movies of the time starring Charlie Chaplin, Wallace Beery, and Ben Turpin. Many cowboy adventures were filmed through Niles Canyon and along the main streets of Niles. The towns of Niles, Mission San Jose, Centerville, Irvington, and Warm Springs were incorporated into the City of Fremont in 1956.

Today Fremont’s Niles District is famous for its historic shopping district, Wildflower Festival, Niles Essanay Silent Film Festival and Museum, its annual Antique Fair, and the Niles Canyon Railway. Watch Niles as the community continues to show off a captivating historic character, a family atmosphere, and a friendly shopping experience.  We hope your visit to Niles is a pleasant one.  Come back and visit us often.

Niles – A Main Street Community

After a very extensive application process, Niles was accepted as an official Main Street Community in 1996 — one of only five downtowns in the entire State of California at that time.  The City of Fremont has worked very closely and has taken great pride in supporting the Historic District of Niles.  Niles is truly a unique historic community with a proud history and a coalition of devoted citizens matched by none.

The Main Street Four-Point Approach…

To help communities achieve their economic goals, the National Main Street Center and the affiliated California Main Street Program have developed a comprehensive revitalization strategy that pairs thoughtful preservation of historic assets with sensible business assets.  By blending common sense with sound planning, economic development, promotion, and design, the Main Street Four Point Approach has already produced dramatic results. Nationally, every dollar invested in the operation of a local Main Street Program has leveraged $22.10 of public and private investment in physical improvements, making the Main Street approach one of the most successful economic strategies ever. The National Main Street Center is part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Economic Restructuring

To benefit everyone — residents, shoppers, and investors alike — Main Street must have a solid economic foundation.  The Main Street Approach not only provides current members with tools to sharpen their competitiveness; it also recruits new and old institutions to diversify downtown’s economic base.


No revitalization effort can succeed without a strong organization to support and guide it.  The Main Street Approach builds cooperation and consensus among all the important players — bankers, civic groups, government, merchants and individual citizens — to ensure that the Main Street program benefits from a community wide vision of the future.


Every successful entrepreneur understands marketing.  To keep investors on board and cash registers ringing, Main Street must beckon customers with a welcoming, consistent image.  From simple graphics to sophisticated sales events and festivals, the Main Street Approach gears the promotional campaign to take advantage of the district’s unique heritage.


A critical goal of every Main Street program is to create a friendly, attractive environment that will keep customers coming back. Signs, storefronts, landscaping, merchandising displays and promotional materials must work together to encourage people to shop, stroll and linger downtown.  In many communities, the design effort must include rehabilitation of commercial architecture, a precious asset that could be lost unless action is taken to counteract the effects of time and neglect.  The Main Street Approach emphasizes thoughtful design and a common-sense approach to the reuse of buildings to enhance the long-term appeal of the downtown.