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The death of the Square
From the Isthmus archives, Feb. 9, 1990

Credit:Morry Gash

"In recent weeks, the Mifflin Street side of Madison's Capitol Square has begun to resemble an urban ghost town," writes Isthmus news editor Bill Lueders. "The Strand Theater has closed. Woolworth's and Fairchild's Hallmark card shop are vast, empty storefronts. The windows of the Hub clothing store are plastered with going-out-of-business signs." And other planned closings threaten to make the Capitol Square "nearly void of retail." Observes architect Kenton Peters, "I think the Square's hit rock bottom." George Austin, the city's director of planning and development, calls it "the end of an era for the Square as a major retail district," while heralding efforts to turn things around. Two decades later, the Square has a rich array of restaurants, law firms, the Wisconsin Historical and Veterans museums, a gym, a Starbucks, a Walgreens and even a resurgence of retailers.

Morry Gash

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