The 500,000 reclaimed historic bricks purchased by the City of Aspen to surface Aspen’s mall were manufactured around 1900 for streets in St. Louis, Missouri. The mall only needed 320,000 bricks. The extra 180,000 were stored to be used for repairs and in case the mall was ever expanded.
In reaction to businesses moving out of downtown areas to suburban indoor malls, Governor John Love signed the Colorado Public Mall Act into law in 1970, allowing municipalities to close off downtown streets. But the situation in Aspen was different. The citizens of Aspen wanted the mall to improve the downtown experience. Business owners were actually against the idea.
In 1972 Aspen’s downtown suffered from traffic congestion, air pollution and treacherous streets. A group of high school students spearheaded the effort to mall the downtown area. Aspen voters approved a 1 percent sales tax for the mall in November 1972 raising $78,000 for construction and maintenance. The permanent mall, including streams, playgrounds, fountains, trees and historic bricks, replaced the temporary mall in September, 1976.
Bests, Firsts & Worsts: Aspen in Objects explores the area’s unique history told through more than 90 artifacts, each with its own tale that sheds light on the Aspen valley’s bright — and dark — times. The exhibition is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Wheeler/Stallard Museum, 620 W. Bleeker St.