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Kalamazoo Mall

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1959, Victor Gruen Associates. Burdick St. between Eleanor and Lovell sts.

On August 19, 1959, more than 50,000 shoppers helped dedicate the nation's first permanent outdoor pedestrian downtown mall, known simply as Kalamazoo Mall. Responding to traffic snarls, lack of parking, and competing strip development along highways on the outskirts of the city, the downtown merchants assessed themselves with $40,000 to hire Victor Gruen Associates to draw a plan to revitalize the city. Gruen proposed a one-way peripheral auto loop around the downtown, strategically placed parking lots, and the conversion of streets inside the loop into pedestrian malls. The plan was partially executed. Two blocks of Burdick Street, between Water and South streets, were closed to traffic and replaced by pedestrian malls in the first stage of the plan. The city and the merchants shared the cost of the mall. Merchants refurbished their own storefronts to create the architectural look of the 1960s. In 1960 the mall was extended one block north, and in 1973, it was extended one block south. Gruen's vision of a solution for the problem of urban centers seemed to stand as proof of his creative imagination: the city has been restored to the people. In 1998, in an attempt to give new life to downtown Kalamazoo, the city opened Burdick Street to low-speed vehicular traffic.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert
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Citation

Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Kalamazoo Mall", [Kalamazoo, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/MI-01-KZ12.

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 217-217.

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