Green’s Dictionary of Slang

main drag n.

[main adj. + drag n.1 (1), also note drag (oneself along), to make one’s way wearily, tiredly. The term referred orig. to a town or city’s centre of tramp or vagrant life but was extended and then transferred to the main street, whether or not frequented by vagrants. Despite its almost invariably US use today, the term started in the UK and is cited as such by Mayhew, London Labour & London Poor (1861–2)]

1. the main street of a town or city.

[UK](con. 1840s–50s) H. Mayhew London Labour and London Poor I 218/1: He ‘patters’ very little in a main drag (public street). [Ibid.] 424: They goes into the by-courts in Windsor, because this bouncing caper wouldn’t do in the main drag.
[UK]Besant & Rice Son of a Vulcan I 267: Cardiff Jack’s never got so low as to be gridling on the main drag—singing I mean, on the high-road.
[UK]Leicester Chron. 7 June 12/2: We must quit this main drag and keep across country.
[US]J. London ‘’Frisco Kid’s Story’ in High School Aegis X 15 Feb. 2–3: I wuz mopin’ down de main drag, I mean de main street.
[US]J. London Road 120: We begged together on the ‘main-drag’ that day for pennies, and what we received was spent for ‘shupers’ of beer.
[US]J. London John Barleycorn (1989) 122: Another jingle was financed with pennies begged on the main-drag.
[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 163: He detailed a couple of them to take the main ‘drag,’ another to make the railroad men’s boarding houses, another to the saloons.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Finger Man’ in Pearls Are a Nuisance (1964) 75: I went from there to De Cazens Boulevard, which was the main drag of Las Olindas.
[UK]J. Worby Spiv’s Progress 9: There’s a brick-kiln further up, just off the main drag .
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 19: Strutting down the main drag blowing my sax while the chicks lined up along the curb.
[US]J. Jones From Here to Eternity (1998) 449: He turned left on the main drag.
[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 21: A big tavern called Nick’s, a noisy place on a main drag called Del Monte.
[UK]F. Norman Dead Butler Caper 21: At the Silchester roundabout a signpost to Bramley took me off the main drag.
[US]E. Torres After Hours 45: Then the main drag and the car.
[UK]A-Team Storybook 51: B.A. [...] drove off down Charity’s main drag.
[Aus]C. Bowles G’DAY 59: He gets in the Kingswood, chucks a u-ey and heads back towards the main drag.
[UK]K. Lette Llama Parlour 212: The Nirvana Casino was off the main drag.
[Aus]T. Winton ‘Small Mercies’ in Turning (2005) 75: They were full-on people [...] They would never settle for just a meeting on the main drag.
[US]Codella and Bennett Alphaville (2011) 44: His pizza place was on the main drag.
[Aus]L. Redhead Thrill City [ebook] The cab driver pulled up at what I assumed was the main drag. It was wide street with more of those grand old buildings.
[UK]Guardian On Line 24 Aug. [Internet] Main drag Colefax Avenue is lined with stores selling medical marijuana.

2. the main road.

Derbys. Advertiser 2 Dec. 25/4: I saw a little wizened old vagrant turn out his ‘scran pocket’ by the roadside on the Ashby ‘main drag’.
[UK]F. Norman Guntz 153: I found myself [...] tearing along the main drag to Kent.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 62: Fate had me cruising along a main drag in Toronto behind the wheel of a V-8 Ford.

3. (US black) 7th Avenue in Harlem, New York.

[US]C. Major Juba to Jive.

In phrases

buzz the main drag (v.) (also mooch the main drag, work...)

to beg along a town’s main street.

[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 301: Buzz, or mooch, or work the main drag or stem—to beg or bum along the main street.
main drag of many tears (n.) [the bars and theatres on 125th St (Harlem’s main street) where otherwise depressed and frustrated people can attempt to drown their sorrows]

(US black) 125th Street Harlem, New York.

[US] ‘Jiver’s Bible’ in D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive.