What you see today is the Third Street Promenade. It reopened in 1989 after a redesign, a two-year renovation, and a renaming, and it was a success out of the gate. In the 30 years since, it’s grown into one of the Los Angeles area’s most famous destinations.
It would have been hard to imagine in 1987. The Mall, as it was known from its christening in 1965 up to the late ‘80s, had been an effort to stem the tide of business moving to the suburbs, with a promise of traffic-free shopping. It is estimated that 200 different towns and cities across America created pedestrian malls, but many of them failed — a fate Santa Monica’s version narrowly escaped.
To save it, an overhaul added everything from more parking to jacaranda trees, fountains, and other cosmetic improvements. But the biggest addition may have been its most subtle. The original mall, Loomis says, was built as flat concrete, like one long sidewalk. A curb was added to make it feel, oddly enough, more like a regular, trafficked street.