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 In 1959, at a cost of $60,000, the City of Kalamazoo created the first downtown pedestrian mall by blocking off traffic from three blocks of the main commercial area on Burdick Street. The Mall Financed and promoted by downtown business owners was part Victor Gruen's 1958 "Kalamazoo 1980" plan.  It was hoped the mall would revitalize the downtown area to compete with the movement of retail businesses to suburban malls.  The mall featured all the important department and clothing stores of its era, but the trend in commerce was away from department stores and men's clothing stores.  The mall now features many specialty stores.  In 2000, the mall was reopened to limited automobile traffic.

click on link to see photos !

Burdick Street in the years before the Mall was constructed.
Burdick Street 1940's Burdick Street 1955 Mall 1955

1955 - South Burdick Street looking north, a time when downtown Kalamazoo was still the place where people shopped  at "dime" stores like Woolworth's, Grant's, and Kresge's or at upscale Gilmore's Department store.  The era of large suburban shopping malls like those on South Westnedge and West Main had yet to come.  And, it was a time before the big discount stores such as Meijer's Thrifty Acres and K-Mart.

click on link to see photos ! 

"The park-like mall offers shoppers relaxation for the family. 
This permanent mall is a constant attraction for tourists and business executives." 

After Construction 4 Views of the Mall Anchor of the Mall, Gilmore Brothers Dept. Store

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Mall Fountain
 Mall Fountain Mall Pool J C Penny 1960's

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1960'S - 1970's
 1960 Walgreen's & W T Grant
 Two views of the mall probably in the 1960's  1963 showing the then very popular Schensul's Cafeteria
Aerial view about 1965 About 1967 ( 8 Years later)South Burdick Street looking north
1960 Magazine Article about Merchant Views of the Kalamazoo Mall The Mall near Michigan Ave., 1970
Kooi Knapper Men's clothing store, undated 1974 -
"The Kalamazoo Mall in downtown Kalamazoo Michigan is a
colorful garden complete with pools, fountains, trees and
pleasant places to just relax and enjoy the scenery. 
The Burdick Street Mall was the first to be
built in the United States."

click on link to see photos !

The Mall near Michigan Ave
1980 2000 - Open To Limited Auto Traffic

See the Historical Marker and 1980 Tornado pages for more Mall photos

click on link to see photos ! 

Demolition of Gilmore's Department Store, September, 2000.


In addition the Library has a number of Mall photographs viewable on line, following are links to a few of them:

Gilmore Brothers Department Store, ca 1960

Kalamazoo Mall (south from Michigan Avenue), Kalamazoo, ca 1960

Louie's News and Pipe Shop, 1984

Jacobson's Department Store, 1984

Some  urban planners have cited the Kalamazoo Mall as a city planning project that achieved far less than hoped, but at least it was accomplished at something like a bargain price of  $60,000, a modest sum for a city project even in the 1950's.  See the following link:

1846 County History Kalamazoo Mall
1876 County History Kalamazoo Theater Views
 1980 Tornado Kalamzoo Views
 Chronology of Township, Village and City Formation Obituaries from the Pioneer Society Reports
Centennial History and Pageant Program Railroads, Interubans, and Transit History
History Index Reminiscences of Kalamazoo, 1832 -1833 by Jesse Turner
Historical Markers Schoolcraft History Site
Indians in Kalamazoo - Early Letters Vicksburg History Site

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