In the 1970s, when pedestrian malls became a popular urban concept, and Colorado laws were enacted that facilitated their construction, Aspen attempted to resolve some of its traffic and parking problems by transforming five blocks of major commercial avenues, Cooper, Hyman and Mill. The concept of a pedestrian mall had been debated for decades, with architects, such as Ellie Brickham and Richard Lai, participating on citizen committees wrestling with the issue in the 1960s.
In 1976, Robin Molny collaborated with Bessinger, who later consulted for Boulder, Colorado, to create Aspen’s automobile-free commercial space. The pedestrian mall maintains the town’s traditional urban grid but eliminates automobile traffic so pedestrians can shop and socialize in an updated tourist-friendly environment “enlivened by native trees, sculpture, grass watercourses, and playground.” The mall’s proximity to Rubey Park and the newly constructed bus station facilitated public access to downtown for both tourists and workers who lived down valley.
This property is under consideration for landmark designation. For a more detailed history of the site, click below.