The real difference between then and now is the ease of renting storefronts and rooms with a view. Before 1970, most downtown buildings had an assortment of rentable rooms, often serving as apartments. Malls and restrictive zoning and "fair" housing laws eliminated most of those rooms from the market.Here's an example of those rooms from the 1940 Census. This page lists the residents of an unnamed 'hotel' at 111 W Maine in Enid, which later became the Cromwells store. When I worked at Cromwells in the early '70s I often went upstairs to fetch various items from storage, and gradually explored the place. At that time the rooms were no longer rented but contained some leftover furniture. A few downtown buildings still had occupied apts in 1970. The upper two stories of the building were all beadboard, divided into small rooms with a central hall running front to back. Each floor had one common bathroom and no kitchen facilities. Residents must have eaten in nearby lunchrooms. (Though the census doesn't list businesses, the details suggest that the ground floor was a cafe in 1940.) Most of the rooms were occupied by older single men. Four of the rooms contained families.
The current icon shows Polistra using a Personal Equation Machine.