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Yesterday in La Crosse

Keeping customers in downtown stores, 40 years ago

Brad Williams

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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.”  

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.  The movie “9 to 5” was a hit in theaters, and Dolly Parton’s theme song from the film spent two weeks as the number 1 record in the country.  It lost the Oscar for best movie song to the theme from “Fame” in 1981, yesterday in La Crosse.       

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also 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. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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