Santa Monica Lookout
|Third Street Promenade Turns 25||
When one lives in a city as breathtakingly beautiful and unique as Santa Monica, inevitably that city will be shared with visitors.
By Daniel Larios
May 12, 2014 – The historic entertainment and shopping complex that turned Downtown Santa Monica into a tourist destination will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with a series of events and celebrations throughout the summer.
During a media roundtable on Thursday at the Redwood Grille, Downtown Santa Monica/Third Street Promenade CEO Kathleen Rawson announced the plan to launch the Silver Anniversary of Third Street Promenade, which begins this month and will last through September.
“Twenty-five years ago, the modern-era incarnation of Third Street Promenade in Downtown Santa Monica was ushered in with great fanfare and celebration,” said Jeff Wagner, head of public relations for the Promenade’s 25th anniversary.
He added, “The three scenic city blocks located between Broadway and Wilshire Boulevard were re-imagined on Sept. 19, 1989 not as a generic shopping mall or fabricated city environment, but instead as an authentic and dynamic gathering place for the people of Santa Monica and beyond. It truly has become Santa Monica’s living room."
The media roundtable was hosted by Wagner and Rawson, who invited the founders and planners of the popular consumer-driven strip to relay the history of the Promenade.
Former Santa Monica Mayor Denny Zane and lead planner Woodie Tescher told members of the press about the planning process and the unique partnership between residents, businesses, city leaders and planners.
“The promenade was almost an immediate hit,” Zane said. “And believe me that was a big surprise to many people, including us, because we were doing something here that had not been done anywhere in America.”
Tescher spoke about the public outreach, where residents would help with the planning by using bits of parsley and stick them on a map of the area, using them to represent trees, while Froot Loops were used to represent buildings.
“People would grab the Froot Loops in one area and fight each other, slap their hands about where they were moving the Froot Loops to,” said Tescher, smiling.
Zane also described the City Council actions during the planning phase, introducing and passing legislation that banned construction of movie theaters anywhere outside of Downtown.Theater operators, seeing the potential of the plot of land thanks to the Farmers Market, moved their facilities Downtown, Zane said.
The summer celebration will kick off Friday with the new Friday afternoon lunch series Picnic on the Promenade, where members of the community will have a chance to come together in a space reminiscent of old town squares.
Each event is designed to take advantage of the Promenade’s distinctive outdoor social spaces and community spirit, and they will all be free.
Rawson unveiled a new commemorative marketing campaign, a dedicated blog site santamonicacentric.com and a limited edition 25th anniversary poster with sales to benefit homeless and mental health services provider StepUp on Second.
Anniversary events will include Picnic on the Promenade every Friday from noon to 3 p.m, Cinema on the Street every Friday night from July 11 to Aug. 15, a Promenade Symposium titled “The Evolution of Third Street Promenade” on Sept. 10 and the Grand 25 Celebration during the weekend of Sept. 20 and 21.
“Something this great does not happen without smart people making smart decisions,” Rawson said. “These are three of the most unique, special city blocks that one can find. Fortunately for all of us, the heart and soul of the community were considered critical to the renewal, and the authenticity and great architecture of the Promenade were left intact to play an essential role in the revitalization of the area.”
Over the past 25 years, the Promenade has proven to be an economic engine for Santa Monica, contributing more than $435 million to the city in 2012.
Additionally, it has continuously evolved to become the home to a creative mixture of local and national retail businesses, restaurants of all types, new multifamily housing developments and “the best free entertainment and street performers found anywhere under the sun and stars,” officials said.
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