Main Street 1969 plan
The Main Street 1969 plan was a concept submitted to the National Citizens Planning Conference by the Arkansas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, led by president Noland Blass Jr., in the spring of 1957. The plan included a drawing of what would one day become the Main Street Mall in downtown Little Rock.
The Main Street 1969 plan's key goals were to increase the attractiveness of the central business district of the city by adding plazas and pedestrian malls, improve the circulation of cars and people, group together various functions of the city like government, finance, or retail, thereby make downtown services and retail more convenient. "Drab" commercial facilities would be updated and connected under the plan into so-called superblocks on both sides of Main Street. Parking would be improved by the addition of multilevel parking ramps strategically placed on both the north and south ends of the street. A sense of "newness, light, and space" would be created by removing the clutter of overhanging retail signage. The local paper in a 1959 editorial called the plan "dreamlike."
In 1961 the plan was folded into the Central Little Rock Urban Renewal Project. The renewal project included proposals for an Arkansas Exchange market for good manufactured in the south-central part of the country, a sports center and marina along the Arkansas River, a downtown local and interurban bus terminal, a convention center, a Variety Lane pedestrian district for retailing in an area bounded by West Capitol, West Eighth, Spring, and Center streets, underground fallout shelters, parking ramps, upscale apartments, and plazas across from the Tower Building and along Main Street. The renewal project also had a special committee designated for work on a proposed Quapaw Quarter of historic homes just south of downtown.
The original Main Street 1969 concept was not implemented until the opening of the Metrocentre in 1978 and the Main Street Mall in 1987.
- Bill Lewis, "Park, Malls Envisioned for Capitol & Main," Arkansas Gazette, February 1, 1960.
- "Design for Downtown," Arkansas Gazette, January 22, 1960.
- "Downtown Little Rock Revitalization Called Boon to Entire Area," Arkansas Gazette, June 2, 1959.
- James A. Hatcher, "Main Street: Little Rock, 1969," Journal of the Institute of Architects (April 1959).
- "Mall First Discussed in '50s with 'Main Street 1969,'" Arkansas Gazette, September 12, 1982.
- John N. Popham, "Planners Vision New 'Main Street': Conference Analyzes Urban Needs: Studies Hailed in Eisenhower Message," New York Times, June 11, 1957.
- Matilda Tuohey, "Extensive Transformation Program for Downtown Little Rock Shown," Arkansas Gazette, August 6, 1961.
- Matilda Tuohey, "Little Rock Plan Provides for Return from Suburbia," Arkansas Gazette, September 5, 1961.
- Matilda Tuohey, "Little Rock's Renewal: Product of Study," Arkansas Gazette, September 3, 1961.
- Matilda Tuohey, "Plan to Revitalize Little Rock Aimed at Pulling Trade," Arkansas Gazette, September 4, 1961.
- Gordon G. Wittenberg, "Little Rock as an Example of What Planning Can Do," Arkansas Gazette, November 7, 1965.