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After a few decades, this iconic street is still a great place to slow down and buy a pair of socks

Boulder's Pearl Street Mall is a place to people watch and enjoy award-winning food, breweries and unique shops.
Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA
Pearl Street against the backdrop of the Flatirons.

My trips to Boulder typically involve just about the opposite of doing nothing. That seems to just be the Boulder thing. 

After all: you might think you’re cool for running the Bolder Boulder, but there’s always going to be that other person who ran it in less than 30 minutes. Did you hike Bear Peak? That’s cute, but lots of other people run up it multiple times before breakfast and then free solo the Flatirons Alex Honnold-style.  

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What I’m getting at is the fact I associate Boulder with constant activity, so walking down the Pearl Street Mall on a Thursday morning was a unique change of pace. Was it abuzz with activity? It always is, but truly appreciating the people watching, the architecture, and … dare I say, the Boulder-ness of it all … required slowing down. And that’s something all of us could do a lot more (especially in Boulder).  

This story is part of our weekly 9Neighborhoods series. Join us at noon on the 9NEWS Instagram for a photo tour of the Pearl Street Mall. Is there a local neighborhood or community we should check out next? Email us at webteam@9news.com

In case you’re curious, you can still buy socks here

Credit: Courtesy Denver Public Library Digital Collection
Posing in sack suits, hats, ties and gold chains, in Boulder, Colorado, these men are identified from left to right as: Hi Washburn, John Bester, Mell Sundstrag, Mr Bottoms, Barkley Sanders (or T.F. Wagner). The storefront behind them has window lettering and signs: "Confectionary" "[c]igars" "Jo...Bar[be]r" "[Fr]uits [&] Nuts" "Notice..Highlite." Its awning is retracted, and strings of sponges hang behind the plate glass.

Back in the 1940s, Downtown Boulder’s website says one longtime resident described the Pearl Street Mall as a “good place to buy a pair of socks.” 

Honestly that’s still the case (during my walk, I passed two stores dedicated solely to the sale of socks), but now it’s also one of the few places outside of the Himalayas where you can buy prayer flags at multiple locations. 

Pearl Street is allegedly named after one of the 54 founders of the mining town, which was established in 1859. Originally a busy thoroughfare with street cars and rutted dirt roads, it became the city’s first paved streets in 1917. 

Credit: Courtesy Denver Public Library Digital Archives
Frame and brick storefronts on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado, have false fronts and signs reading: "Cigars tobacco and smokers articles" "Fresh oysters" "Fruit confectionary" "K. S. Peak agent for Snyders Distillery" "Stoves & tinware" "Real estate" and "Garbarino." Men are on the boardwalk by barber poles and a hanging clock; another clock hangs in the foreground on This side of the dirt street. Foothills are in the background.

A population boom brought more crime to Boulder in the 1960s and 70s, as well as a deterioration of the downtown -- prompting one group of citizens to form a committee aimed at preserving it. 

The Pearl Street Mall we know today can be traced back to 1970, when Governor John Love signed the “Public Mall Act,” which allowed Colorado cities to turn streets into pedestrian malls. 

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Pearl Street Mall opened on Aug. 1977, and is now home to cool vintage architecture and murals, street performers who have been there for years, and some of the best restaurants in the country. 

It will be on full display this weekend for the annual Fall Fest, which has everything from live music to food to a beer/margarita garden (PRAISE!). 

The festival takes over the Pearl Street Mall from 11th to 15th streets, and lasts Friday evening into Sunday. You can find more information and a schedule of free events here: http://bit.ly/2kH9sg7 

Here’s the part where I admit I forgot my DSLR (but take a photo tour anyway)

The most Boulder I thing I did today other than go to Boulder was checking my heart rate on my running watch while finding out if I somehow managed to lose an expensive piece of station equipment somewhere between work, my house, and the Interlocken exit of US 36.

For what it’s worth, my heart rate was at 140 during the height of my paranoia, and the DSLR was safe and sound … albeit not in the car with me, and therefore not available during the trip I took solely to get pictures of the Pearl Street Mall. 

Luckily, we live in 2019. I say this because 1: I included this segue before the pictures because I know someone on Twitter will point out they looked like they were taken with a potato and 2. The potato is actually my phone, thank you very much. 

Without any further ado, here are the interesting sights of the Pearl Street Mall -- a place worth slowing down to photograph. 

The sights of the mall

The Pearl Street Mall has plenty of public art, from buffalos (presumably in honor of the University of Colorado) to maps of the area. 

Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA
Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA
Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA

One person even added a flower to an installation. 

Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA

Since this is Colorado, seeing a cute shop dog shouldn't be a surprise ... 

Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA

The street crossings here reflect a message of inclusivity and love. 

Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA

Since this is Boulder, the Patagonia store needs room to grow. 

Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA

The art is on point -- from that on the walls, to Macauley Culkin's face, to the street paintings. 

Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA
Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA
Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA

This photo was taken in the middle of the day, but the bike racks are still full! (also there's a Subaru). 

Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA

Finally, since this is Boulder, even the parking garage had spectacular views. 

Credit: Allison Sylte, KUSA

Enjoy more of the sights of the Pearl Street Mall at this weekend's Fall Fest! 

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