The western portion of downtown Charleston, a roughly rectangular area bounded by Laidley and Washington streets and the Kanawha and Elk rivers, has changed more in recent years than any other part of the city. In 1952 slum clearance programs began to transform this decayed neighborhood into a mixed civic and commercial area. Charleston Town Center, an enclosed urban mall that radically changed the original street pattern, is the centerpiece. Brawley Walkway, connecting the mall to Capitol Street, broadens at Laidley Street and becomes Slack Plaza, a public gathering place. The mall and Capitol Street have not yet “merged” into a seamless whole, as the planners had hoped.
Two important civic buildings, the Kanawha County Courthouse and nearby Charleston City Hall, remain from earlier times and offer reassuring architectural presences in the midst of so much new concrete, glass, and metal.
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