When the K Street officially closed to traffic in December 1969, the occasion was celebrated with speeches, music and frivolity. So it's fitting that the reopening of the avenue to traffic Saturday was also marked with oration and fun.
The conversion of K Street into a pedestrian plaza was culmination of a 10-year battle to reverse the exodus of shoppers from downtown to the suburban stores. At the time the dedication of the space was considered a great milestone in the revival of the central city. A Bee editorial proclaimed:
The chief goals of the plaza have been accomplished. Private cars are swept off the mall, except at some intersections. Pedestrians are given an environment in which traffic will not harass them from becoming leisurely shoppers.
What is more the design of the plaza could turn out to offer a supreme value to any downtown, namely, an interesting diversity [sic] attracting people in ever enlarging numbers to the central business district. The keys to the design are compounded: Up-tilted concrete concrete quadrangles to be covered with vines, islands of quietude amid the heart of the city, grottoes of waterfalls inviting active pedestrian participation and trees and grass.
Oh well, some things don't work out the way they're first imagined.
See the attached 1969 dedication story and editorial reproduced from Bee microfilm. And enjoy this gallery of photos showing K Street through the decades.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kids play on K Street Mall's fountain structures, Dec. 3, 1969. Sacramento Bee photograph