This past Saturday I participated in the first of four planned “Open Streets” events in St. Louis.Â I went from my loft at 16th & Locust to Forest Park.Â Most doing the route were on bikes.Â Some were jogging while others were walking, some pushing strollers.Â I did the 10-mile round trip in my power wheelchair.
I had a good time, took 140 pictures and saw many people I know but I have mixed feelings about the event.
Hundreds, if not more, participated in the event.
People got out and biked in the city, exploring areas they might not have seen otherwise.
People were active and physical.
I met and talked to strangers.
Reinforces the false notion that you can’t bike safely on urban streets with cars.
The city is off the hook for the poor condition of the sidewalks and a lack of accessibility.
Much of the route has very little traffic most weekends anyway.
Cars got through in too many places so it wasn’t truly car-free.
At Sarah & Lindell the traffic signal remained on it despite the fact cars had only one option. The signal should have been placed on a all red flash.
In the past such events led to the creation of pedestrian malls where cars are banned 24/7 and people usually stayed away as well.
Saturday May 1, 2010 from 8am to 1pm several streets in our city will be car-free:
This first of four events opens five miles along Locust and Lindell for you to enjoy. That’s right, car-free City streets!
Open Streets is a FREE community event. You’re invited to take to the streets to walk, bike, visit other neighborhoods, rediscover the City and experience the Great Rivers Greenway’s Bike St. Louis routes.
Three activity hubs located along the length of the route host a variety of fun activities – aerobics, zumba, hula-hooping, yoga, walking tours and safety and health demonstrations.
Open Streets promises to be interesting. I’ll participate –seems silly not to given that I live on the route:
My concern is events like this will lead to calls for the creation of new car-free pedestrian malls.
Friday I asked for help with information on 60 former pedestrian malls (see post).Â Readers responded with helpful information.Â Today I’m sharing my complete list of cities that have or had a pedestrian mall built during the period 1959-1984.Â Â 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.Â The “semi” mall permitted traffic but on-street parking was significantly reduced or eliminated.Â 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.Â A couple of sources I have made reference to (nearly/almost/over) 200 malls built.Â Â These sources never document this 200 number.Â 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)
Ann Arbor Michigan
Atlantic City New Jersey
Auburn New York
Battle Creek Michigan
Buffalo New York
Cape May New Jersey
Coos Bay Oregon
Des Moines Iowa
East Lansing Michigan
Fargo North Dakota
Fayetteville North Carolina
Fort Lauderdale Florida
Freeport New York
Greenville South Carolina
Greenville North Carolina
Hallifax Nova Scotia
Iowa City Iowa
Ithaca New York
Kansas City Kansas
Lake Charles Louisiana
Las Cruces New Mexico
Las Vegas Nevada
Lebanon New Hampshire
Little Rock Arkansas
Miami Beach Florida
Michigan City Indiana
Monroe North Carolina
New Bedford Massachusetts
New London Connecticut
New Orleans Louisiana
New Orleans Louisiana
New York City (Brooklyn) New York
Oak Park Illinois
Palm Beach Florida
Paterson New Jersey
Poughkeepsie New York
Providence Rhode Island
Quebec City Quebec
Rock Hill South Carolina
Saint Charles Missouri
Saint Louis Missouri
Santa Cruz California
Santa Monica California
Schenectady New York
Sioux Falls South Dakota
Spartanburg South Carolina
St. Cloud Minnesota
St. Joseph Missouri
Trenton New Jersey
Vancouver British Columbia
Washington District of Columbia
West Chester Pennsylvania
Winston-Salem North Carolina
I believe most, if not all, of those listed in red have been removed with the street re-opened to traffic.Â I may just need the year it was reopened.Â Â Â I have no doubt that over 200 were proposed.Â Built?Â 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.Â These tended to be very different.Â In the case of Oklahoma City they dug out a street in their old warehouse district to create a canal.
The topic of my capstone (thesis) for my Masters in Urban Planning is the pedestrian mall.Â I’ve taken on the ambitious task of documenting every pedestrian mall built in North America between 1959-1984.Â So far I have documentation on 135 pedestrian malls created during this 25-year period.Â Of those I know the current status of 75.Â I believe the 60 that remain on my list have all been removed.Â Some of you out there reading this post have knowledge about some of these.
For my purposes a pedestrian mall is a formerly through street that was converted to a pedestrian zone.
I’m looking for the following information:
Year opened (if not listed below)
Length (measured in blocks)
Width of right-of-way (measured in feet)
Street that was closed for the mall (from street to street)
Did the mall have fixed canopies
Year street reopened
Although you are all very knowledgeable, for academic purposes I could use links to sources such as newspaper articles, organization/city websites and such that have the information I seek.
Alphabetical listing by city (mall name, city, state, year opened):
Hamilton Mall Allentown Pennsylvania 1973
Ann Arbor Michigan
Lexington Mall Baltimore Maryland 1974
Downtown Mall Centrallia Illinois 1970
Neil Street Champaign Illinois
City Center Mall Coos Bay Oregon 1969
Stoneplace Mall Dallas Texas 1965
Vermillion Park Mall Danville Illinois 1967
Landmark Mall Decatur Illinois 1970
Town Clock Plaza Dubuque Iowa 1971
Downtown Mall Erie Pennsylvania 1974
Fargo North Dakota
Franklin Commons Fayetteville North Carolina
Las Olas Boulevard Fort Lauderdale Florida
St. Clair Mall Frankfort Kentucky 1974
Downtown Plaza Freeport Illinois 1968
Central Plaza Galveston Texas 1971
Downtown Greenville Mall Greenville North Carolina 1975
Coffee Street Mall Greenville South Carolina 1975
Pratt Street Hartford Connecticut
Progress Place Jackson Michigan 1965
Downtown Mall Lake Charles Louisiana 1970
Courthouse Plaza Monroe North Carolina 1973
Walnut Plaza Muncie Indiana 1975
Parkway Mall Napa California 1974
Downtown Mall New Bedford Massachusetts 1974
Captain’s Walk New London Connecticut 1973
Plaza Park Mall Oxnard California 1969
Main Street Mall Painesville Ohio 1973
Worth Avenue Palm Beach Florida
Parsons Plaza Parsons Kansas 1971
Main Street Mall Paterson New Jersey 1975
Chestnut Street Transitway Philadelphia Pennsylvania 1975
Liberty Place/Gallery Place Washington District of Columbia 1976
Complicating matters is how a pedestrian mall was defined.Â A full mall was completely closed to all vehicles except emergency vehicles.Â A transit mall, like Denver’s 16th Street, allows transit vehicles.Â But then we have the murky waters of the “semi” mall – vehicles are allowed but little to no on-street parking is.
For example it is possible that East Park Central East in Springfield, MO (above, map) was considered to be a semi-mall at the time.Â Or Springfield had a completely closed street that was their pedestrian mall?Â Given the fact that Lawrence Halprin did the adjacent Park Central Square I’d say they did label the above a mall.
I’ve been here several times.Â The most recent was last year.
OK, 59 left. Wait, not so fast.Â I found a document (PDF) from the City of Springfield that indicates the original plan was all four streets entering the square would be pedestrian malls and in 1979 they were reopened.Â But other evidence suggests traffic was never barred from the Square.Â So it is 60 — I’m still unsure how to classify Springfield, MO.
I’ve visited other places on the above list, such as Parsons, KS.
Parsons, KS had a “full” mall on Main Street and concrete canopies over the sidewalks.Â Today they once again have a more traditional street design.Â The canopies were partially destroyed by a tornado – I just don’t know the year.
I’ve sent out requests for information on many of the above but only a few have responded.Â I got an email back from one town in the Northeast that said their mall remains — a 24 foot wide alley behind their main shopping street where vehicles were banned.Â Not sure I get the point of that one.Â A car-free alley is better than a street with cars?
It is too early in my research to talk findings or conclusions.Â I have been surprised by the number of these malls that remain.Â If you have knowledge of these please share in the comments below or email me.Â My graduation is 3-weeks from today.
Main streets across this country, from big cities to suburbs to small towns, have been abused by urban planners over the second half of the 20th Century trying to find the right formula to reverse the exit to the edge.
In big cities you had white flight and schools as explanations for flight but in many small towns these reasons didn’t exist.Â They didn’t have the mall on the edge of town drawing customers away from main street.Â They had only the single school district.Â However, many had Wal-Mart pulling customers out of the existing downtown’s.
The “solutions” were almost universal from big city CBD‘s to suburban areas to small towns.Â With some exceptions these all failed:
One-way traffic – charming main streets were turned into high speed roads to get through town.Â See Collinsville IL and many others.
Elimination of on-street parking – Saw this in Springfield MO.Â A street where you could drive through but you couldn’t stop and shop.
Pedestrian mall – a few have done well but most separated remaining customers from remaining stores.
Indoor mall – an alternative to the open-air pedestrian mall is the enclosed indoor mall.
Removal of projecting signs – main streets were cleansed of unique signs.Â Projections were viewed as a bad thing.
Uniform signage – uniformity was considered an asset. All businesses were encouraged to have the same font & size.
Concrete canopies – numerous towns were sold the idea of uniform concrete canopies over the sidewalks.Â Beautiful facades were bisected.
Modernize facades – cheap modern materials covered detailed old storefronts.Â Sometimes the original facade can be restored but often they are damaged beyond repair.
Structures over roadway – Salina KS has 4-5 open grid structures over their main street.Â Adds nothing but a dated look.
Parking in rear – Many towns built excessive parking behind main street buildings.Â With new rear entrances the street out front became useless.
Visuals of some of the above, all coincidentally from Kansas towns:
Agree?Â Disagree?Â Have additional “solutions” to add to the list?Â If so, use the comments below.
I’m not a huge fan of vintage/heritage streetcar/trolley lines — I much prefer modern streetcar lines using 21st century low-floor vehicles (see Kansas City’s streetcar). I have ridden vintage/heritage lines in San Francisco, Little Rock, New Orleans, and Memphis. I wanted to ride the one in Dallas…