Why Pearl Street Works

by Osman Parvez

Since first moving to Boulder, I've enjoyed Pearl Street's independent shops, cafes, and art. When we have out of town guests, a stroll through the Farmer's Market and Pearl Street is usually on the agenda. And I don't even like shopping. Pearl Street is different somehow. Even when we don't have guests, I enjoy a visit and frequently meet with clients or friends in one of its cafes or restaurants.

The Pearl Street Mall is a central feature of Boulder and quite simply, it works. Have you ever wondered why?

Today I came across a piece by Richard Layman, a DC based historic preservation and urban revitalization consultant/advocate. Turns out Pearl Street isn't the spontaneous result of random development. It took the hard work of many people to create and maintain. If you're interested in Boulder check out, "Now I know why Boulder's Pearl Street Mall is the exception that proves the rule about the failures of pedestrian malls."

He writes,
Clearly, there are reasons that the Pearl Street "pedestrian" Mall is wildly successful. They work their a**** off to ensure that it succeeds, leaving little to chance. Impressive.
From his piece, one thing stood out; the reference to a "sense of place." According to Wikipedia, a sense of place is fostered by characteristics that are unique, creating authentic attachment and feelings of belonging. When places have that special quality, people get emotional. It's something that Pearl Street succeeds at and most new developments, such as 29th Street, struggle (and usually fail) to create.

Image: City of Boulder

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