25 February 2010

Downtown as a Shopping Mall

Via a Fresno Downtown Association, here is a video that was produced by shopping mall architect Victor Gruen. He starts by reviewing the decline of the city from prewar to 1960 via the automobile and freeway development. He then offers a solution of separating cars and people by building more parking garages and making a car-free pedestrian mall of a big chunk of downtown. It is 20 minutes, so you may not want to watch it, but I found it a fascinating look back on the prevailing thought pattern of the time (which was that cities needed to become more like the suburbs):

Fulton Street, pre-plan, crowded but "declining":

Fulton today 

I found it interesting that a commenter on the video stated that today Fresno is often dissed as being the most midwestern-like city in California.


John Schneider said...

'Tis a beautiful thing, that.

Wonder how many years elapsed between the creation of the Fulton Street Mall in 1964 and its being paved over.

Think the bus-trams are still running?

CityKin said...

-yeah, I thought those open mini busses in the video were so pathetic.

Apparently portions of Fulton street are still pedestrian only. This plan was implemented for several years, but since it involved so much de-population and catering to the auto, the town declined even faster..

Bryan Harley said...

Glad you enjoyed the video. Your before/after photos are not quite accurate. The 6-block portion of Fulton Street that was converted into a pedestrian mall in the 1960's is still a mall to this day. Nothing has been paved over, although there has been lots of talk over the past 45 years about opening it to traffic.

The Fulton Mall area is currently undergoing an EIR and specific plan study which will decide if the mall is opened, among other things regarding our downtown revitalization.