Country Club Plaza
Kansas City, Mo.
Across the Missouri River in Kansas City, Mo., the Country Club Plaza is a museum of a different sort. The 15-block district, built in 1922 as the nation’s first suburban shopping district designed for automobiles, is an outdoor museum of Moorish and Spanish architecture and European fountains, sculptures and murals.
Developer J.C. Nichols had fallen in love with the architectural styles while touring Europe on bicycle as a young man. The buildings, such as the iconic 38-foot-tall Seville Light and Giralda Tower, feature ornate towers, brightly colored tile roofs and ceramic tile mosaic sides.
The plaza is especially known for its elaborate fountains. One of the most famous is the J.C. Nichols Fountain of four horses designed by Henri-Leon Greber.
Groups can take narrated 40-minute cruises on Brush Creek, which runs through the plaza, on flat-bottom boats that are patterned after the boats that cruise San Antonio’s Riverwalk.
The more than 150 stores are a combination of upscale national stores such as Anthropologie and Tiffany and Co., and small local upscale boutiques, clothiers, salons, jewelers and chocolatiers.
There are also several fine restaurants and outdoor cafes.
During the holidays, more than 80 miles of lights accentuate every dome, tower and window in the district during the plaza’s Season of Lights, one of Kansas City’s longest traditions.
City Creek Center
Salt Lake City
Although Country Club Plaza is the nation’s oldest suburban shopping center, City Creek Center, which opened in Salt Lake City March 22, is the latest example of mixed-use downtown redevelopment.
Located directly across from historic Temple Square, City Creek Center has changed the dynamics of downtown Salt Lake City with its bold architecture, pedestrian sky bridge over Main Street, water-and-fire fountains, 18-foot waterfalls, sculptures and fully retractable skylight roof, the nation’s first such roof over a shopping center.
The center’s name comes from the 1,200-foot-long re-creation of historic City Creek that flows through the center. The south fork of the creek once ran through downtown and was the original water source for early farmers.
The center also pays homage to the city’s rich history with plaques describing key historic features of downtown scattered throughout the property and two trailmarkers comprised of eight interactive stacked cubes that have historical, geographical and biological information about Salt Lake City and City Creek.
There are several outdoor plazas where shoppers can rest, and a four-sided outdoor fireplace with comfortable seating overlooks a waterfall and the winding creek.
Anchored by Nordstrom and Macy’s, the center has more than 90 stores and restaurants, one-third of which are new to the market, covering two city blocks.
Owned and operated by Michigan-based Taubman, the innovative center is the only regional shopping center scheduled to open in the United States this year according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.