According to the Minnesota Historical Society, the first fully enclosed shopping mall, Southdale Shopping Center, opened in 1956.
In 1964, Petula Clark recorded a song titled "Downtown" that quickly rose on the top 100 charts around the world, gaining the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart early in 1965 in the United States.
The lyrics of "Downtown" were simple, bringing mental images of urban nightlife to mind instantly. Kids liked the catchy lyrics and lively tune too. Enjoy a few lines from Petula Clark's "Downtown"
"When you're alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go downtown
When you've got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know, downtown
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares"
In my younger years, Saturdays were downtown day in our family. Dad would take us downtown and we'd go to the dime stores, pick out a toy and have dessert at the soda fountain.
By the mid-70s, nearly every city had bought into the mall concept. Downtown areas emptied as the anchor stores headed to the mall.
As in many other things, the good old days are back. Revitalizing downtown is the 'in thing' to do these days. A new generation is being introduced to the joys of downtown shopping.
Downtown malls feature open air dining, boutique shopping, farmer's markets and a great place to gather with old and new friends.
Some downtown malls, including Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, also offer live music and street entertainers to enhance your shopping pleasure.
Like the downtown of Petula Clark's recording, all the noise and the hurry seem to wash away the cares of the people walking through the Downtown Mall.
The brick-lined streets are mostly closed to automobile traffic, although there are a couple of car crosswalks. The Downtown Mall in Charlottesville is a true pedestrian mall.
Singles and couples, parents pushing strollers, toddlers running and shouting, and dog walkers all gathered together in one place has a way of bringing an instant smile to your face.
With tables of diners scattered here and there and vendor booths set up in the center of the mall, the feel is a combination of an old-fashioned downtown and a fall festival.
In addition to shopping and dining, Charlottesville's Downtown Mall has a giant outdoor chalkboard for people of all ages to share messages or draw pictures.
On Friday nights, you'll find live music and street performers and there's a farmers market on Saturdays. Sundays are quieter with many shops closed.
Pick a downtown area near where you live and take a stroll back in time. Let the lure of downtown draw you into the carefree world of Petula Clark's downtown.