Kalamazoo is known as the Paper City, the Celery City and the Mall City. So how exactly did the city get associated with a Mall?

The nickname dates back to 1959 and no does not refer to an enclosed shopping mall like you might think but rather Kalamazoo's downtown pedestrian mall, the first in the nation.

In the late 1950s, plans were conceived to transform several blocks of Burdick Street into a pedestrian mall and eliminate vehicle traffic.

Why The Mall Could Have Been So Much More

A portion of the Kalamazoo Mall was reopened to traffic in 1998, as complains that grown over the decades that there was too little parking available near the mall.

Interestingly, parking around the mall, and in Downtown Kalamazoo should never have been a problem. The original plans for the pedestrian mall were actually twofold, build the mall AND build a ring road around the mall with ample parking lots just a block off of the mall to provide easy access to pedestrians to get to the Kalamazoo Mall.

A ,perhaps short-sighted, group of city leaders at the time decided only to fund the conversion of Burdick Street to the Mall and did not fund the ring-road and parking lots. A decision that appears to have doomed America's first pedestrian mall.

Today the mall remains open only to Pedestrians north of Michigan Avenue while the South Kalamazoo Mall has seen a renaissance of restaurants and boutique retailers, albeit with very few parking spaces available to those who wish to visit.

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