The holidays downtown in the 1960s and today

about downtown

Back in 1959, the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce first entertained the idea of creating a walking mall downtown. In 1974, the city hired the pioneering landscape architect Lawrence Halprin to realize that vision. Today, the Historic Downtown Mall is celebrated as one of the most vibrant urban centers in small-town America.

Stretching along 8 tree-lined blocks, the brick-paved, pedestrian-only mall has been called the “Community Living Room.” It is home to more than 120 shops and 30 restaurants. Add in half-a-dozen art galleries, two historic theaters, multiple venues for live music, a movie theater, an ice skating rink—plus free concerts, “Art Walks,” and a Saturday farmer’s market, and, you get a diverse and entertaining place. Remarkably, in an age of chain stores, almost all businesses on the Historic Downtown Mall are locally owned.

If you have any questions or would like an official visitors’ guide, please stop by the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau located at 610 East Main Street or visit