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Friday, July 6, 2018

WMU Libraries Play a Part in National PBS Show

Regional History Curator, Lynn Houghton and the historical materials at the Zhang Legacy Collections Center regional history collections help tell the story of Kalamazoo's leadership in downtown development for a PBS show, "10 Streets that Changed America" 

The Chicago Public Broadcasting Service affiliate, WTTW, who produces the series "10 That Changed America", contacted Houghton in the spring then came to Kalamazoo and interviewed her for this 'Streets' project. She had researched the records of the pedestrian mall from materials in the WMU Regional History Collections archives.
Lynn Houghton, Regional
History Curator

It airs Tuesday, July 10 on PBS at 8 p.m.

As many natives know, the Kalamazoo Mall (the Burdick Street business district downtown) was the first pedestrian mall in the country. It was redesigned for pedestrians only in an effort to bring shoppers back to downtown. It was revolutionary for its time and it is why Kalamazoo was known as the Mall City for many years. Many cities copied the idea. Now it is the one-way street from the Radisson complex on Michigan Ave. south to the State Theater.

Kalamazoo's Burdick Street rates pretty favorably in the show with other well-known places like Broadway in New York, the National Road - Virginia to Illinois, and Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The PBS trailer mentions how the street 'changed shopping in America'.

The mall designer hired by Kalamazoo is featured in this WWMT TV3 article.

The Zhang Legacy Center, Archives and Regional History Collections at WMU is the largest facility of its type in southwestern Michigan. It consists of historical university and regional records. The library holds letters, diaries, photography, and documents of area people, business and organizations. It also has several large photography collections, area newspapers, and electronic resources documenting Southwestern Michigan and beyond.