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Tuesday - February 13, 2018 8:44 am

Downtown businesses were hurting after the mall opened, 37 years ago

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In 1981, the La Crosse Chamber of Commerce took a $20,000 study that had been gathering dust and looked at it again, in search of ways for downtown to compete with Valley View Mall.  The mall had opened in the summer of 1980.  It drew Sears, JC Penney, and Herberger's away from downtown.  The Chamber report recommended more emphasis on mass transit, and improvements in downtown parking.  Within a couple of years, most parking meters would be removed from the La Crosse business district.

A reconstruction of 3rd Street, including the demolition of a building at 3rd and Main, didn't help business much...but at the end of July, La Crosse celebrated the "grand re-opening of 3rd Street North."  On 4th, the Hotel Stoddard was getting ready to shut down for good, and it would be demolished a year later.

New TV shows getting attention in early 1981 included "Magnum, P.I.," "Dynasty," "Hill Street Blues," and "Bosom Buddies," a sitcom with two young actors named Peter Scolari and Tom Hanks.  And comedian David Letterman was signed to an exclusive contract with NBC after hosting a daytime talk show for the network that only lasted a few weeks.  Dave got the contract in 1981, 37 years ago, yesterday in La Crosse.  

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Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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