CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall is home to over 120 shops, 30 restaurants, City offices, museums and cultural icons.

"It's why I moved here," said one city resident.

But it used to be just another road.

In February of 1974, Charlottesville City Council voted to turn part of Main Street into a pedestrian mall. Two councilors voted yes and the other three abstained

$1.5 million in city funds and a half a million from merchants paid for the original construction.

There were a few reasons behind the decision for what was called an "urban renewal.”

Barracks Road Shopping Center opened in 1958 and was luring people out of downtown with more accessible shopping.

They knew something needed to change and started a study in 1959.

In 1966, the city sent a delegation to Knoxville, Tennessee, another college town. Knoxville had recently built a pedestrian mall as a way to revive their dying downtown area.

Construction in Charlottesville began at the end of 1974 and the Mall was dedicated in July of 1976.

Many pedestrian malls popped up across the country during that time. They were in places like Burlington, Vermont; Fayetteville, North Carolina; and Chicago. But many closed down.

"It's a unique place, no one has a Downtown Mall quite like ours," said another city resident.

Half a century later, the question is why did Charlottesville’s mall remain, and what is the state of it now?

The answers will come through the rest of the year.