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North America cities that have (or had) a pedestrian mall

November 23, 2009 Grad School, Pedestrian Mall 49 Comments

Friday I asked for help with information on 60 former pedestrian malls (see post).  Readers responded with helpful information.  Today I’m sharing my complete list of cities that have or had a pedestrian mall built during the period 1959-1984.   A few cities are listed twice because they had two pedestrian malls.

For my purposes a pedestrian mall is the at least partial closure of a commercial street to vehicles.  The “semi” mall permitted traffic but on-street parking was significantly reduced or eliminated.  Most were in the downtown area but in larger cities they could be found on neighborhood commercial streets such as St. Louis’ North 14th Street Pedestrian Mall (currently being removed).

I now have 134 malls in 136 towns and cities.  A couple of sources I have made reference to (nearly/almost/over) 200 malls built.   These sources never document this 200 number.  So part of my research is simply to verify how many malls were actually built during this 25-year period.

Here is the list in alphabetical order by city name (italics = removed; bold = intact; red= need more info)

  1. Allentown Pennsylvania
  2. Ann Arbor Michigan
  3. Ashtabula Ohio
  4. Atchison Kansas
  5. Atlantic City New Jersey
  6. Auburn New York
  7. Baltimore Maryland
  8. Baltimore Maryland
  9. Battle Creek Michigan
  10. Boston Massachusetts
  11. Boulder Colorado
  12. Buffalo New York
  13. Burbank California
  14. Burlington Vermont
  15. Burlington Iowa
  16. Calgary Alberta
  17. Cape May New Jersey
  18. Centrallia Illinois
  19. Champaign Illinois
  20. Charlottesville Virginia
  21. Chicago Illinois
  22. Coos Bay Oregon
  23. Cumberland Maryland
  24. Dallas Texas
  25. Dallas Texas
  26. Danville Illinois
  27. Decatur Illinois
  28. Denver Colorado
  29. Des Moines Iowa
  30. Dubuque Iowa
  31. East Lansing Michigan
  32. Elgin Illinois
  33. Erie Pennsylvania
  34. Eugene Oregon
  35. Evansville Indiana
  36. Fargo North Dakota
  37. Fayetteville North Carolina
  38. Fort Lauderdale Florida
  39. Frankfort Kentucky
  40. Freeport New York
  41. Freeport Illinois
  42. Fresno California
  43. Galveston Texas
  44. Greenville South Carolina
  45. Greenville North Carolina
  46. Hallifax Nova Scotia
  47. Hartford Connecticut
  48. Helena Montana
  49. Honolulu Hawaii
  50. Iowa City Iowa
  51. Ithaca New York
  52. Jackson Michigan
  53. Kalamazoo Michigan
  54. Kansas City Kansas
  55. Knoxville Tennessee
  56. Lake Charles Louisiana
  57. Lansing Michigan
  58. Las Cruces New Mexico
  59. Las Vegas Nevada
  60. Lebanon New Hampshire
  61. Lincoln Nebraska
  62. Little Rock Arkansas
  63. Louisville Kentucky
  64. Madison Wisconsin
  65. Memphis Tennessee
  66. Miami Beach Florida
  67. Michigan City Indiana
  68. Middletown Ohio
  69. Milwaukee Wisconsin
  70. Minneapolis Minnesota
  71. Monroe North Carolina
  72. Muncie Indiana
  73. Napa California
  74. New Bedford Massachusetts
  75. New London Connecticut
  76. New Orleans Louisiana
  77. New Orleans Louisiana
  78. New York City (Brooklyn) New York
  79. Newburyport Massachusetts
  80. Oak Park Illinois
  81. Ottawa Ontario
  82. Oxnard California
  83. Painesville Ohio
  84. Palm Beach Florida
  85. Parsons Kansas
  86. Paterson New Jersey
  87. Philadelphia Pennsylvania
  88. Philadelphia Pennsylvania
  89. Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
  90. Pomona California
  91. Portland Maine
  92. Portland Oregon
  93. Pottsville Pennsylvania
  94. Poughkeepsie New York
  95. Providence Rhode Island
  96. Quebec City Quebec
  97. Reading Pennsylvania
  98. Redding California
  99. Redlands California
  100. Richmond Indiana
  101. Riverside California
  102. Rock Hill South Carolina
  103. Rockford Illinois
  104. Sacramento California
  105. Saint Charles Missouri
  106. Saint Louis Missouri
  107. Salem Massachusetts
  108. Salisbury Maryland
  109. Santa Cruz California
  110. Santa Monica California
  111. Schenectady New York
  112. Scranton Pennsylvania
  113. Seattle Washington
  114. Sheboygan Wisconsin
  115. Sioux Falls South Dakota
  116. Spartanburg South Carolina
  117. Springfield Missouri
  118. Springfield Illinois
  119. St. Cloud Minnesota
  120. St. Joseph Missouri
  121. Tacoma Washington
  122. Tampa Florida
  123. Toccoa Georgia
  124. Toronto Ontario
  125. Trenton New Jersey
  126. Tulsa Oklahoma
  127. Vancouver British Columbia
  128. Vicksburg Mississippi
  129. Washington District of Columbia
  130. West Chester Pennsylvania
  131. Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania
  132. Williamsport Pennsylvania
  133. Wilmington Delaware
  134. Winona Minnesota
  135. Winston-Salem North Carolina
  136. Youngstown Ohio

I believe most, if not all, of those listed in red have been removed with the street re-opened to traffic.  I may just need the year it was reopened.    I have no doubt that over 200 were proposed.  Built?  At this point I don’t think so. If you know of others that are not on this list please share.

Some cities, such as my home town of Oklahoma City, built pedestrian malls after 1984.  These tended to be very different.  In the case of Oklahoma City they dug out a street in their old warehouse district to create a canal.

– Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "49 comments" on this Article:

  1. Tim says:

    Steve,

    I believe Montreal has a pedestrian mall, on Rue St. Arthur in the Plateau neighborhood. It's two or three blocks long. I'm not sure when it was created, but it's there now. Was there a few months ago, it looks to do OK, mostly has restaurants along it. Probably more popular in the summertime.

     
  2. UCity Lisa says:

    Steve, Mount Clemens, MI is the county seat of one of the largest counties (Macomb) in MI. In the mid-70s, they built a pedestrian mall smack in the middle of downtown and closed 4-6 blocks, which quickly killed what used to be a thriving, traditional “main street” town center. In the mid- to late-90s, they reopened it and are crawling back back from that ill-advised brink. I'll try to find links for you, but with a population of only about 20k in the city proper, it might not hit the population threshold you might need?

     
    • Thanks! I was able to find documentation online. It was built in 1980 and removed in 1992. The bulk of pedestrian malls were built in small towns such as this – I have no population threshold.

       
  3. Chris says:

    Tim beat me to it, but many foreign countries have pedestrian malls. In fact, the pedestrian zones I've seen in European cities tend to be thriving, whether in Cologne, Munich, Berlin, Rome or Florence. Should we look at why other countries have had such great success with them and America hasn't? Is it just our love of the automobile?

     
    • This was a hard less for many U.S. cities. Just because an idea works in one location doesn't mean it will work in another. Many factors made our ped malls different from European counterparts. Auto use is among the factors. Population density is another.

       
    • Boris says:

      Pedestrian malls work in America as well, including in small towns. I'm very familiar with the Ithaca Commons, the pedestrian mall in Ithaca, NY. It has an eclectic collection of shops and restaurants, street art, and an informal and frequently used performance space.

      For years, I wondered what a shame it was that Ithaca is not near an interstate highway. Later I realized that the lack of an interstate saved it from destruction. Unlike its larger neighbors Syracuse and Binghamton, and their dangerous and hollowed out city centers, Ithaca was able to hold on to much of its charm and human scale thanks to the interstate's absence. So yes, love of the automobile has much to do with it, and I'm glad at least some American towns were saved for people without an automobile fetish.

       
      • Pedestrian malls have worked in 'some' American cities and towns. They did not work in more towns than they worked. In looking at maps of each of these towns I see they are so different. One size does not fit all.

         
      • I think Boris is right that bypasses are key. I'd like to see a factor analysis of this.

        Also, three other pedestrian malls I haven't seen mentioned: Nassau Street (New York City), Fourth Street (Albuquerque) and Washington Street (Binghamton).

         
    • Boris says:

      Pedestrian malls work in America as well, including in small towns. I'm very familiar with the Ithaca Commons, the pedestrian mall in Ithaca, NY. It has an eclectic collection of shops and restaurants, street art, and an informal and frequently used performance space.

      For years, I wondered what a shame it was that Ithaca is not near an interstate highway. Later I realized that the lack of an interstate saved it from destruction. Unlike its larger neighbors Syracuse and Binghamton, and their dangerous and hollowed out city centers, Ithaca was able to hold on to much of its charm and human scale thanks to the interstate's absence. So yes, love of the automobile has much to do with it, and I'm glad at least some American towns were saved for people without an automobile fetish.

       
  4. Lee says:

    I live in Williamsburg, VA, and we have a “sort of” pedestrian mall. We have a main road (Duke of Gloucester street/DOG street) that's closed to traffic that's about a mile long. It runs through an area mostly (but not quite completely) owned by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation which contains a large scale recreation (buildings and actors) of the colonial city that used to exist here. There are also several side roads that are partially closed in the area.

    There are also a few remaining private homes, some active churches, about 3 blocks at the west end of the street a modern (but carefully planned to look like a downtown) shopping district, and many of the “colonial” buildings actually contain apartments for employees of the historic foundation.

    What makes it a “sort of” pedestrian mall is the fact that one can sometimes park and/or drive on the street at certain times of day. (Generally, after 10:00 PM and Before 5:00 PM. Also, if one is going to a specific business, for example, that only has on street parking on the mall). But it is illegal to drive down the street/through the area without stopping during the day – and there are gates that one must get out of the car, open, move the car forward, and then close manually behind oneself on many parts of the street.

    There's also a decent push by local merchants to close more of the side streets

     
  5. cvanwyn says:

    I don't know the dates that these were built, but two that are not on your list are Grand Rapids, Michigan (Pearl Street downtown), and Ottumwa, Iowa (downtown). Both have since been removed.

     
  6. Colin says:

    Steve,

    What info do you need about DC?

     
    • Glad you asked. in the 70s “Liberty Place/Gallery Place” was built on 1-block. Another added in 1975 and a third in 1976. That is all I know so I need a lot of info: start year? removed? Width of ROW? Exact location?

       
      • beth meyer says:

        Steve,
        Gallery Place pedestrian street included F Street between 7th and 9th (along National Portrait Gallery) as well as 8th Street just south of F.
        In addition, the block just to the west, in front of the DC public library (Mies's firm), was also pedestrianized. I recall both of them in the late 1970s and early 1980s when I was in DC. Neither exist today.

        I have been doing research on Charlottesville's Mall designed by Halprin Associates (1973-76). Let me know if you are interested in any sources.

         
  7. JZ71 says:

    4th Street in Louisville has seen multiple iterations. You're correct, it's now all driveable, but what's kinda unique/weird is that at one point the pedestrian mall had been enclosed for a block and a half (for a retail mall, a la St. Louis Center), but when the street came back, they kept the roof, so now you have a sort-of drive-thru mall: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&source=hp&ie=

     
  8. JZ71 says:

    Pacific Avenue & Bryan Street in downtown Dallas remains a rail transit corridor: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=e

     
    • The two Dallas listings I have are Akard Street Mall and Stoneplace Mall. One block of Akard is still closed in a mall-like fashion (Commerce to Jackson) but all I know about Stoneplace is that it was 1 block with a 50' ROW.

       
  9. JZ71 says:

    Frankfort, KY – it looks like cars have been allowed back on the St. Clair St. mall: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=e

     
  10. JZ71 says:

    Champaign, IL – looks like the mall's still there and car-free: http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=e

     
    • Their mall was called Neil Street. It looks like the street/alley behind Neil is closed to cars – that looks like Freemont St based on their grid. Looking at Neil St the curbs/sidewalks look like something done in the 80s/90s.

       
  11. JZ71 says:

    Tampa – it looks like Franklin St. remains carfree for two blocks between Whiting and Janckson, and is a semi-mall between Jackson and I-275, for a dozen blocks.

     
  12. JZ71 says:

    In Elgin IL, it looks like Wellington Avenue and Ziegler Court were once a rail line, and there are a couple of random blocks of Ziegler that are still mall-like, without cars and with “improvements”.

     
  13. JZ71 says:

    Finally, Milwaukee – they have a dying downtown enclosed mall (http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2009/03/29/grand-aven…) that took over a street or two, and Cass Street has one block closed and two narrowed between Wisonsin and Kilbourn. They also have a pretty cool river walk, which is what we most enjoyed on our last trip there.

     
  14. You are missing Long Wharf Mall, in Newport, RI. Street View: http://tinyurl.com/yc8gbmm

     
  15. Mark says:

    You can add my hometown, Grand Rapids, MI to the list. The Monroe Mall was removed in the early 2000s and is now open to one-way traffic with plenty of angled parking.

     
  16. DJ says:

    Ah, my hometown: Dubuque, Iowa, Town Clock Plaza, built 1971, completely closed Main St. to traffic between W 5th and W 9th Streets, 4 blocks total. Reopened to traffic August 2002. No concrete canopies.

    Sources:
    Built date: http://www.encyclopediadubuque.org/index.php?ti

    Opening date: search of http://www.thonline.com archives for the phrase “town clock plaza open traffic main”. Resulting story had this quote: “The ceremonial opening occurred in August 2002.”

    Both sources have good ancillary information on the impact to businesses of both moves… the original plaza displaced 65 businesses.

    Google Street View also has nice pictures of the now-open Main St. The reopening still preserved some nice streetscape with additional sidewalk tables/benches, but fewer trees.

     
  17. Eric Fischer says:

    You can add Main Street in Salisbury, Maryland to your list, now reopened to traffic. http://www.ci.salisbury.md.us/cityclerk/Ord1915

     
  18. festoonic says:

    There is also such an animal, seldom trafficked and often avoided, in Portsmouth, NH: the so-called Vaughan Street Mall, formerly — of course — Vaughan Street. It's what you pass through after you park your car to get to the main street.

     
  19. Daves says:

    There are two I know of that may or may not meet your criteria – Centerway Square in Corning NY was created after they closed part of Pine St. to vehicular traffic in 1988. You can get a nice view of this on Bing maps birdseye view, it's Pine street from Market to the river, and the Pine St bridge over the river is also now a pedestrian-only bridge.

    In Richmond Va they had the 6th street Marketplace from 1985-2008. If I understand correctly, the block of 6th street between Broad and Marshall had an indoor mall built over it (The Marketplace), and I think the block between of 6th between Broad and Grace was made pedestrian only, but still open-air. Both blocks are now back to vehicular traffic, as the mall building was torn down last year.

     
  20. Levois says:

    Chicago has had a pedestrian mall. Either on State Street in downtown or in the Englewood neighborhood. Neither exists. The Englewood neighborhood in fact had at 63rd and Halsted regular car traffic routed around the shopping area and you will see evidence of that still today. But some might say that if in the 1960s Chicago had never used that plan, the Englewood neighborhood might be in better shape today.

     
  21. Brady Dorman says:

    Dubuque, Iowa's Main Street pedestrian mall was converted back to a thru traffic street a few years ago.

     
  22. gmichaud says:

    Steve, there is a book, For Pedestrians Only by Roberto Brambilla and Gianni Longo that list 70 malls, (Whitney Library, Watson-Guptill Publications 1977) some of which you still have in red. It has at least a paragraph and basic information on each one, including contact information (no doubt dated). The book itself, while it contains other information is basically a treatise on creating these kinds of spaces. You may already know the book, but if not it may be useful.
    There is in depth information and analysis on a number of malls, including several you still have in red.

     
  23. Shelley H. says:

    The one in Youngstown Ohio was paved over about 6 years ago and reopened for traffic!

     
  24. John boy says:

    Add Coffeyville Kansas to the list.

     
  25. publius804 says:

    Raleigh, NC –Fayetteville Street, the main street downtown, was closed in 1977 and reopened in 2006.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fayetteville_Stree…)

    Also, in Richmond, VA, Virginia Commonwealth University closed the 800 and 900 blocks of Park Avenue to automobiles.

     
  26. Richard Pointer says:

    Steve,

    What information do you need for Toronto, ON? Off the top of my head, I cannot think of any pedestrian malls besides The Path (underground mall). I have been to the one in Ottawa and I must say it is horrible but feels pretty European.

     
    • I need everything. My reference indicates it was on Younge St and has been removed. I need to know if it in fact existed, when built, when removed, and from what street to what street did it run.

       
  27. Sarita says:

    Steve, I'm a Master's candidate at UVa – just finishing up my Architectural History thesis on Charlottesville's pedestrian mall. I appreciate your count, it is the best I have come across. One to add to the list is Union Square in Hickory, NC. It doesn't come up in searches because they don't refer to it as a Mall, but I've been there and it is. Believe it was built in the 1970s after some dramatic urban renewal but I haven't done the research. Google it – photos show that it is clearly in the spirit of 1970s pedestrian malls.

     
  28. Ajl1239 says:

    New London, CT has had its -a stretch of road known as Captain's Walk – removed for many, many years. All that remains are some curb.

     
  29. Troy says:

    small ped zone/mall in silver spring, maryland…only two blocks long or so….but nice fountain, ground level retail, and streetscaping…include it!

     
  30. Jessica says:

    I believe someone already mentioned it, but my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, converted Main St. to a pedestrian mall years ago. It’s still thriving! The street is lined with shops and restaurants (Charlottesville locals love their food), but I think one of the main reasons that it has had such success is that during warmer months, an amphitheater at one end of the mall hosts bands on Fridays. These are called “Fridays After Five,” and they bring a lot of traffic to the mall. When you go downtown on Fridays you’re are guaranteed to see people that you know. There is also an Omni Hotel on the other end of the mall, so visitors to Charlottesville explore the downtown mall (as it is called in C’ville) and spend money in the expensive shops that line the street.

     
  31. Jessica says:

    I believe someone already mentioned it, but my hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, converted Main St. to a pedestrian mall years ago. It’s still thriving! The street is lined with shops and restaurants (Charlottesville locals love their food), but I think one of the main reasons that it has had such success is that during warmer months, an amphitheater at one end of the mall hosts bands on Fridays. These are called “Fridays After Five,” and they bring a lot of traffic to the mall. When you go downtown on Fridays you’re are guaranteed to see people that you know. There is also an Omni Hotel on the other end of the mall, so visitors to Charlottesville explore the downtown mall (as it is called in C’ville) and spend money in the expensive shops that line the street.

     

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