Thursday, July 7, 2016

July 7, 1977 -- The Mall on State Street Is Funded



July 7, 1977 – The Chicago City Council sets up a special assessment district to collect revenue from State Street merchants for the cost and maintenance of the State Street pedestrian mall, scheduled for completion by March of 1979.  With suburban malls springing up as fast as they can be built and with many patrons who traditionally do their shopping on State Street moving to the suburbs, the thinking is that closing the street to all but bus and pedestrian traffic will make it more attractive to shoppers.  The idea comes a tad too late, and in the 17 years that the mall is open Wieboldt’s, Sear’s, Montgomery Ward, Goldblatt’s, Baskin’s, and the Bond store all go out of business.  There were as many reasons for the mall’s lack of success as there were people to share them.  Chicago’s Planning Commissioner in the 1980’s, Elizabeth Hollander, said, “The mall took the excitement out of State Street.”  Adrian Smith, the lead architect in putting the street back together again, said, “The buses would line up, one after another, like a herd, with their diesel fumes.”  Mayor Richard M. Daley, who hitched a ride on one of the machines that began breaking up the mall in 1996, said, “As Mayor I have found it difficult to find out whose idea this was in the first place.”  [New York Times, February 1, 1996]

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