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Pearl Street Pedestrian Mall

Boulder, Colorado

December 11, 2020

The Pearl Street Pedestrian Mall is similar to Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. Based on my limited time here, I’d say Charlottesville’s mall has more character in terms of the old buildings. Plus it is hard to beat the anchor of the Paramount. Boulder’s mall is more active and more upscale, befitting a city double the size of Charlottesville.

Both malls attract the homeless. There are more in Boulder.

Here are a commercial write up about the Pearl Street Mall and a discussion of its history.

As an aside I worked with the son of the man who spearheaded. The development of the Downtown Mall. I worked for Paup Clements, his dad was Alvin Clements. Mr Clements was such an old school Wahoo in terms of being such an incredible gentleman. Served as president of a local bank and as president of Farmington.

The commercial piece: It’s hard to imagine a visit to the Boulder area that doesn’t include at least one stop at Pearl Street Mall, the city’s hub for dining, arts, shopping and, of course, people watching.

More than 1,000 businesses fill the red-brick, pedestrian-only thoroughfare, which runs roughly along Pearl Street from 9th Street on the west end to 21st Street on the east end — and radiating to the streets and alleyways that surround it. Most of the things to see and do on Pearl Street are locally owned, bringing with them that special only-in-Boulder character — described as “nestled between the mountains and reality” just a half-hour’s drive from Denver. Year-round, Pearl Street is a gathering place for Boulderites and visitors, where musicians and performers fill the air with festive noise, kids clamber on play installations their parents once clambered on themselves, strolling couples peer in shop windows, patios are filled with joyful diners and cocktail-havers, holiday lights put folks in a festive mood and groups perch on benches and around flower beds to watch it all go by.


In 2010, Bon Appetit  named Boulder “America’s Foodiest Town,” and Pearl Street in particular has been hailed by Food & Wine for its focus on quality, local ingredients and innovating chefs.

You pretty much can’t go wrong on a dining trek along Pearl Street and its surrounding streets, from long-time classics like Frasca Food & Wine, Lucile’s Creole Cafe, Pasta Jay’s and West End Tavern to the newer Black Cat, Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, The Kitchen, OAK at fourteenth and SALT the bistro.

And for snacks and treats, don’t skip T & Cakes, Cured and any of several coffee houses (every Boulderite has their favorite!). And check out one of the state’s most popular farmers’ markets, which runs every Saturday April through November and Wednesday evenings May through October just a couple streets south of Pearl Street alongside Boulder Creek.


This being Colorado, there’s bound to be a few craft breweries where more than a few people are gathered. Pearl Street boasts four: Mountain Sun, Oskar Blues Boulder Tap Room, Boulder Beerand West Flanders Brewing Company.


It’s impossible to encapsulate the breadth of shopping opportunities on and around Pearl Street. There are several places for the city’s notoriously active population to gear up for outdoor adventures, and clothing boutiques, jewelry, activewear, kids and shoes stores keep everyone looking appropriately stylish and sporty throughout the city’s four seasons. Distinctive home goods stores, culinary and gift shops, and art galleries help put a Boulder spin on all your shopping needs.


Several Pearl Street spots are Boulder institutions — places the locals come back to again and again, and the first place they bring visitors. A few of our favorites:

A gift from Boulder’s sister city in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, this handcrafted masterpiece was sent halfway around the world to dazzle Coloradans with its stunning handcarved mosaics and endless tea options, not to mention a delightful lunch, dinner and dessert menu. 

A great place for locally made art and Colorado souvenirs, this large store on Pearl Street is a popular place for poking around. Take home aspen-leaf ornaments, Flatirons photos, Colorado-flag-inspired artwork and many other only-in-CO works.

Books are still cool at this indie Pearl Street book shop that’s been serving Boulder’s readers since 1973. Crowds form on its three floors near the employee recommendations, in the kids areas and at its in-house coffee shop. Catch authors doing readings, book clubs meeting and children’s storytimes during your visit.

Ground zero for passing time while waiting for friends and family, this hands-on “kite shop” is really so much more. Hundreds of colorful curiosities, wind-up toys, gag gifts, puzzles and games keep kids of all ages occupied.

Every crevice, shelf, tabletop and cubby in this homegoods store is delightfully stuffed with hard-to-find kitchen gadgets, luxurious table linens, tasty European condiments, Colorado-made tapenades, rainbows of cool glassware and cookbooks for the ages.

For more than 40 years, this Pearl Street shoe mainstay has been hoofing Boulderites in footwear for all their adventures — active or otherwise. They’re the go-to option when looking for comfort and practicality with a bit of style, much like the city they serve.

The history piece:

As a Planning Board member, Carl A. Worthington began working on the project in 1966 in an attempt to revitalize Boulder's downtown. In 1973 he prepared a master planwhich was approved by an 86% majority. The Pearl Street Mall was constructed between June 1976 and August 1977 and was officially dedicated on August 6, 1977. The design team consisted of three firms: CommArts, Inc.(Boulder), Everett Ziegel Associates (Boulder), and Watertown, Massachusetts-based Sasaki Associates.

In the TV series Mork & Mindy, the New York Deli operated by Remo and Jean DaVinci was located at 1117 Pearl Street. The actual deli of the same name and location closed in 1999.

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